Microsoft (MSFT) Xbox One VS PS4 Turns Phil Spencer AutarkicAuthor: Paul SheaLast Updated: May 31, 2020 Microsoft Corporation isn’t that heavily invested in games. Though it may seem to the member of the public that gaming is one of the firm’s major businesses, and Satya Nadella and the rest of the team do like to play that up, the truth is different. Microsoft doesn’t really have all that much money at stake in gaming, and that’s turning Phil Spencer, who leads the Xbox One VS PS4 fight at the firm, autarkic.On Friday console sales numbers for the month of July emerged from the NPD. The full figures weren’t released to the public or the media, but the headline is clear. Microsoft lost once again. Phil Spencer, in the plethora of interviews he did after Gamescom, gave off the impression that he didn’t care how Sony was doing, and that it had little effect on the way he does his job.Phile Spencer doesn’t need anyone elseAutarky, in its base form, is self-sufficiency. The word has a lot of connotations that suit the state of Phil Spencer’s recent comments about the Xbox One VS PS4 fight however.In the 20th century Autarky was used to describe a political doctrine whereby states eschewed international trade, high economic growth, luxury goods and the latest technology in order to have control over their destiny.Pure autarky is very hard to find, but examples of some kind of strong autarky include Cuba during the 1960s, Russia right now and, if his words are to be believed, the Xbox One segment under Phil Spencer.Autarky as marketing at MicrosoftIn a recent interview the Microsoft exec said “I honestly don’t goal the team on how many units Sony sells.” He said his job was making the Xbox One the best it could possibly be. Putting his focus on Sony PS4 sales would hurt that.Since Gamescom he’s being telling the press that Microsoft has put a new focus on first party titles in the Xbox One VS PS4 battle. He says that Sony Corp (ADR) is buying its way to the top of the third party ladder, getting titles from the like of Activision Blizzard simply because it has the money to throw around.None of this is untrue necessarily, but the way that Mr. Spencer has framed the Xbox One VS PS4 battle is certainly a reflection of autarkic states throughout history. The point of autarky is to have control over you own destiny.It doesn’t matter if other states are doing better than you, what matters is that you control your own future. That’s the same line that Mr. Spencer appears to have taken in recent weeks.The problem is that that line often comes from propaganda rather than a place of principle. So it is with the Xbox One VS PS4. Since he took over the Xbox segment, Mr. Spencer has repeated more than once that he’s going to focus on the gamers.The famous autarkies of the past would never allow a contrast based on numbers that made it look weak in the eyes of the world. Those are, in their eyes as in Spencer’s, the wrong figures, and hurful to focus on. The same states are very likely to push the stats that make them look good, however.Cuba extols its healthcare system, and Russia its military. Both ignore low growth and massive poverty. In the Xbox One VS PS4 fight Mr. Spencer says the sales difference between the Xbox One and the Sony Corp console don’t matter. What matters is feedback from users.None of this is to say that Microsoft isn’t focusing on gamers. Cuba has great healthcare, and Russia’s military is very very strong for the size of the economy that supports it. Mr. Spencer isn’t lying, that’s not what we’re saying here. We’re saying that he’s using the framework of self-sufficiency to sell the Xbox One.Autarky as self-defense in Xbox One VS PS4Autarky usually comes about when a state feels threatened. It’s not Sony that’s Mr. Spencer’s big enemy in the Xbox One VS PS4 fight, it’s the other board member at Microsoft Corporation.Microsoft is not able to compete with Sony for third party content for two reasons. First, despite what Mr. Spencer has said in recent interviews, the cost of content tends to go up as relative user base goes down. Second, it’s clear that Microsoft, already on a cost-cutting spree, has tightened the purse strings at Xbox.Mr. Spencer has to make Xbox self-sufficient, because if he doesn’t the whole segment could fall into the ocean, or simply be absorbed through the rest of Microsoft. Windows gaming, which Mr. Spencer says is a key part of the culture at Xbox right now, could simply pick the firm apart in a matter of months.Autarky in Cuba was a response to an embargo put upon it by the US. Russia’s current ideas about growing its owned food were brought on by sanctions Europe put against it.Closing yourself off from the world, and ignoring sales in the Xbox One VS PS4 fight, is often a move made to defend what you already have. Phil Specter doesn’t want to lose the users that his brand has built since the release of the Xbox One in 2013 to Sony Corp .He certainly doesn’t want to lose them to a Microsoft decision to shut down gaming’s growth at Microsoft.Microsoft has made some great strides in telling users a story about the Xbox One VS PS4 battle in recent weeks, and Mr. Spencer should be lauded for that by Satya Nadela, the firm’s CEO.That story is, however, the same that Fidel Castro told Cubans through the 20th century, and the story that Vladimir Putin is telling Russians right now.The Xbox One VS PS4 battle has clearly been won by Sony. PS4 sales are almost double those of the Xbox One just two years into the console gen. Microsoft , and Phil Spencer are defending, and they’re trying to sell more units of the Xbox One. That’s why they’ve succumbed to the joys of Autarky in recent weeks.