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Xbox chief Phil Spencer thinks cross-platform bans would be swell

"When somebody gets banned in one of our networks, is there a way for us to ban them across other networks?"

Chris Kerr, News Editor

January 11, 2022

2 Min Read

Xbox boss Phil Spencer believes console makers should consider implementing cross-platform bans to curb toxicity.

Pitching the idea during a recent New York Times interview, Spencer acknowledged the concept has logistical challenges, but suggested it would prevent players from escaping punishment by simply switching to another platform and potentially harassing other users.

"Something I would love us to be able to do -- this is a hard one as an industry -- is when somebody gets banned in one of our networks, is there a way for us to ban them across other networks?" asked Spencer.

"Or at least as a player, for me to be able to bring my banned user list, because I can always block people from my play. And I’d love to be able to bring them to other networks where I play. So this is the group of people that I choose not to play with. Because I don’t want to have to recreate that in every platform that I play video games on."

Spencer continued to elaborate on the challenges that come with moderating burgeoning online communities, and said that Microsoft didn't set out to create a free speech platform.

The Xbox boss acknowledged that a multitude of conversations concerning everything from love and life to politics could be unfurling on Xbox Live at any given moment, but that Microsoft's main role is to provide a social network centred on video games and interactive entertainment -- not to facilitate all kinds of social discourse.

"One of the things we’ve stated about our social network is we’re not a free speech platform. We’re a platform around interactive entertainment and video games. And we’re not there to allow all kinds of social discourse to happen on our platform. That’s not why we exist," added Spencer.

"We’re not there to allow any conversation to happen on our platform. I’m not to say it never happens. We’re not a place -- it’s very difficult to come to Xbox Live and say, Okay, I want to go create a political party on the platform. You could kind of twist the tools and try to get there, but it’s just not set up for general-purpose conversations or community. It’s really set up for community around interactive entertainment and the games that run on our platform. And that’s the way we invest. And I’m not judging what other networks do. It’s just not what our network is about."

You can hear more from Spencer by checking out the full New York Times interview.

About the Author(s)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

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