Last week, Microsoft was thrust inadvertently into the global limelight after one of their employees expressed his opinion on the rumours surrounding the still unannounced Xbox 720. Communicating via Twitter, Adam Orth was responding to gamers concerned about the hearsay ‘always online’ component by telling them to ‘deal with it’. Microsoft condemned the comments in an official statement which you can read below.
“We apologize for the inappropriate comments made by an employee on Twitter yesterday. This person is not a spokesperson for Microsoft, and his personal views do not reflect the customer centric approach we take to our products or how we would communicate directly with our loyal consumers. We are very sorry if this offended anyone, however we have not made any announcements about our product roadmap, and have no further comment on this matter.”
The company’s response was to be expected considering the immature and unprofessional nature of Orth’s Tweets, however, it seems Microsoft have used the apology as a means of circumnavigating the divisive online issue. In the wake of Sony’s announcement of the Playstation 4 on February 20th, you would have to imagine that Microsoft will unveil their console competitor soon, although this ongoing ambiguity has done little to help the industry buzz for their new product.
Bearing in mind that North America is Microsoft’s primary market for Xbox 360 – it’s been the highest selling console for two consecutive years in the country – moulding the next iteration around an always online model seems rather backwards. Internet access is far from ubiquitous in the States. As a matter of fact, figures published by the Federal Communications Commission last year showed that 119 million Americans either couldn’t afford broadband or live in an area where an internet connection is just not possible. Adding this to the already problematic mash-up – bandwidth problems, cloud saving issues – it would appear that forcing consumers to be online during play would do more harm than good for the company as a whole.
Of course, these are all rumours at this point in time, but the silence from Microsoft’s camp begs the question of whether Orth’s messages were true or not. No doubt, this is a contentious issue and it’s one we’d like you to pitch in on. Do you think the next-gen Xbox will require players to be connected to the internet?