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Xbox's big decision during the pandemic has everyone talking

Ever since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, there has been an increase in the number of gamers who are engaged in their favorite pastime. This has become something of a necessity, particularly when most places are either closed or under restricted hours. Many people have taken to wiling away the days in lockdown with video games.

Xbox head honcho Phil Spencer seems to be acutely aware of this fact. It would pretty much be impossible to ignore the spikes in sales and the importance being placed on video games in the current era. However, Spencer wants to make it clear that his company is not in any way working to capitalize on a scary situation.

In an interview with Business Insider, Spencer explained that Microsoft saw the current boom as a way of reinforcing its own values and commitment to customers. 

Spencer explained, "Our opportunity is to stand on our principles and our values and be there when our customers need us. We want to be very thoughtful and not exploiting the situation. We're not putting in place any different business tactics or other things. We're just trying to keep all the services up, trying to keep the games enjoyable, keeping our networks safe and secure. And being there at a time of need. I'm proud that we can provide this activity for people."

Game companies have been making interesting moves during the COVID-19 pandemic. Rockstar Games pledged 5% of all sales in its biggest games to aid in COVID-19 relief efforts. In the meantime, several developers and publishers have partnered with the World Health Organization to encourage people to stay indoors and play video games while they practice safe social distancing. All in all, it seems like the pandemic has brought out the best in many of the biggest names in the gaming industry. 

This is definitely reflected in Spencer's comments on the current flood of new gamers. As Spencer explains, the recent boom in video game sales all comes down to timing. "Gaming is a social and community connection for many people, and as physical distancing is requiring shelter in place, is requiring that people are physically apart, the social connections and community connections that the games industry brings to people is just expanded."

However, it's hard for Spencer and his team to feel right about celebrating these newfound customers, simply because of why they're retreating to the world of video games in such huge numbers. 

"You wouldn't wish this is the way we get here. We've talked [internally at Microsoft] about this," Spencer told Business Insider. "It's about, 'How do you feel that gaming is doing well at a time where the world is hurting?'" 

That goes a long way toward explaining the frame of mind that Spencer and company are in. It's comforting to know that there are many ways in which Microsoft and other game companies could take advantage of customers' need to escape and self isolate, but they are actively choosing not to. 

However, it is also worth noting that Spencer has made it very clear that there are no plans to delay the release of the next gen Xbox Series X console. In fact, in an interview with The Verge, Spencer said that the system will be coming out on time, but the only unknown factor is just how game production will be impacted by coronavirus. 

Some fans are already nervous about this decision, considering how COVID-19 has affected the economy. Some are already talking about how much money they'll have to save to afford the console, while others are casting doubt on the success of the Xbox Series X in such an uncertain time. 

"Lots of ominous signs that the holiday season will be disaster .. hope I'm wrong," tweeted one Xbox fan.

Still, there were others who felt very reassured by Spencer's comments. One fan even asked if they could go ahead and preorder their Xbox Series X. It seems like people are very pleased with how Microsoft is approaching things these days.

Honestly, it's not like video game companies really have to push all that hard, anyway. Consumers are coming to them. For example, since the outbreak, Steam has broken its all-time record for the most concurrent gamers logged into the service. This record has been broken not once, but twice. Microsoft seems to understand that all it has to do is keep people invested in its products and the customer base will continue to grow while people need something to do.