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Phil Spencer takes over as head of Microsoft's Xbox division

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Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

Phil Spencer is taking over as the head of Microsoft's Xbox branch, the company announced today.

Spencer, who most recently served as the chief of Microsoft Studios, will now lead that division as well as the entire Xbox business, including Xbox Live, Xbox Music and Xbox Video. His official title is Head of Xbox.

"Combining these teams will strengthen the connection between some of the world's most innovative creators and those building the Xbox itself," said Spencer in a statement on Xbox Wire. "It's been a remarkable year for Xbox and I am honored to lead the team at this incredible time for Microsoft and the games industry."

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced Spencer's promotion in a companywide email today. Spencer will report to Terry Myerson, executive vice president of the company's Operating Systems Group, which covers Windows, Windows Phone and the Xbox One operating system. According to Nadella, Spencer will continue to work with Yusuf Mehdi, chief marketing and strategy officer for Xbox; George Peckham, head of Xbox third-party relations; and Mike Angiulo, corporate vice president of hardware development for Xbox.

"Combining all our software, gaming and content assets across the Xbox team under a single leader and aligning with the [Operating Systems Group] team will help ensure we continue to do great work across the Xbox business, and bring more of the magic of Xbox to all form factors, including tablets, PCs and phones," said Nadella. "I love the way the Xbox team is focused on great games and gaming experiences (go, Titanfall!), connects with its fans, pushes the boundary of entertainment and has embraced the power of the cloud in such interesting and impactful ways. Phil is the right person to lead Xbox forward."

"It's been a remarkable year for Xbox and I am honored to lead the team"

Spencer has spent 25 years at Microsoft. He worked on products such as Encarta and Microsoft Money before taking the position of Microsoft Studios' worldwide general manager in 2008 and being promoted to corporate vice president the following year. Prior to that, he was the general manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa of what was then known as Microsoft Game Studios. Under his tenure, Microsoft has built up a stable of key franchises such as Halo, Gears of War, Fable and Forza.

The Xbox branch at Microsoft had been without a single, official leader since Don Mattrick, the president of the division, left the company last July to become CEO of Zynga. Shortly after Mattrick's departure, Microsoft announced a major reorganization under which Julie Larson-Green became the head of the Xbox hardware and studios groups, while Myerson was given leadership of development on the Xbox One OS. Larson-Green took a new position within the company in February, and was replaced by former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop. Marc Whitten, who had served as chief product officer for Xbox, departed earlier this month for audio equipment manufacturer Sonos.

Nadella announced today that Elop will serve as executive vice president of Microsoft's Devices group once the company's $7.17 billion acquisition of Nokia closes, which is expected to occur by the end of April. Elop, said Nadella, will work with Spencer and Myerson when it comes to the Xbox platform.