The Xbox Third-Party Global Publishing team has a 14-year tradition: When a new game ships, the account team rings a 42-inch gong. Everyone comes into the hallway and claps. The gong sounded recently, when Titanfall was launched on Xbox One.
The ceremony epitomizes the camaraderie of the 3PP team. According to John Smith, Senior Director Global Publishing: “Our team is the coolest at Microsoft.”
There are a lot of cool teams at Microsoft. There are a lot of cool teams at Xbox. How is this team different?
According to John, the difference comes from a combination of what the team does, how it works, and what it values. He should know: Last week, John celebrated his 15-year anniversary at Microsoft. He’s been with this team since its inception (about 14 years ago). For this sweet occasion, John brought his colleagues 15 pounds of M & Ms and Smarties to enjoy.
The 3PP team is responsible for working with partners to bring content to the Xbox platforms. John explains: “We’re the group who since the original Xbox partnered with game publishers and developers to bring their games to our various platforms (Xbox, then Xbox Live, then Xbox 360, then Kinect, Windows Phone, Windows and now Xbox One.) So when you see that Xbox TV commercial with non-Microsoft Studios games as well as Microsoft Studios titles: That was us.”
For example, with the launch of Xbox One, “We spent two years in deep engagement enabling partners to make games come to light on a new platform,” John says. “Our business teams evangelize the vision, our technical team makes it real, and our global extended virtual teams (v-teams) provide support (Marketing, PR, Marketplace, Release Management …).” 3PP inspires and evangelizes a few years in advance what entertainment and features will capture the imagination, what will get families excited about playing Kinect during the holiday season, and what will keep gamers fired up.
Here are eight reasons 3PP says it is a cool team at Microsoft:
1. Delight. “We deliver entertainment to millions of people around the world,” John says. “Millions of people globally at some point picked up a plastic guitar and wished they could be Jimi Hendrix. Those experiences you have at home came to life with our 3PP team working with partners.”
2. Impact. “What’s cooler than managing partners who have shipped more than 1,000 titles on Xbox 360, covering everything from dancing to raiding the pits of hell? Or throwing the doors open to the next generation of entertainment with Xbox One?” says Nick Rooke, an Account Manager based in the U.K. Nick and his global account v-team oversee every aspect of Microsoft’s relationship with a games publisher, from initial concepts through to retail, digital release and beyond. “We work in a $66 billion industry that’s constantly pushing the boundaries of entertainment.”
3. Solidarity. Some of the team’s core values and traditions:
- MRI: Most Respected Interpretation. You always give people the benefit of the doubt.
- Family First: Team members cover for each other when someone is having a personal challenge, family or medical issue.
4. Longevity. Many team members have been in role for a decade. “That’s a large factor in why I joined this organization,” says Pam Narode, a Group Manager who joined 3PP last summer. “This has created fierce loyalty and an ever-turning wheel of reinvention in how we make our publishers successful on our platforms.”
5. Customer-obsessiveness. Nick says, “We work closely with our counterparts in other regions to ensure our partners receive consistent service from wherever in the world they’re contacting us.” Maintaining partner relationships is paramount. “We value our role in managing very long-term strategic partnerships,” John says. “We’re not here to get a game and move on. We work with that partner for many years, through multiple iterations of any single game across our generations of platforms.”
6. Cross-organizational ethos. “Nothing we do could happen without our tight relationship with our platform and engineering teams,” says James Miller, Senior Director of Development Account Management. “While game publishers use our systems and services to deliver great experiences, it’s our platform teams who enable. They’re tightly coupled to ensure we have amazing experiences on the other end.”
7. Startup mentality. “We’ve had to be scrappy,” John says. John has been with the team since the very beginning, when the original Xbox organization had to persuade game makers to sign on. Today, he says, “Previous success is not a guarantee of future performance – we always need to be re-evaluating, and adapting to change.”
8. Passion. “I’m surrounded by people who have a serious passion for what they do,” Pam says. “There are continually new games, new technologies and new challenges. Mix that with seeing your output on a shelf and overhearing strangers talk about something you’ve had a part in helping to make possible. That’s inspiring.”
What’s next for the 3PP team? John promises the gong will keep ringing. “Look forward to more amazing games, more platform capabilities, more social integration. More and more.”
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