A gamer’s response to the Xbox One’s new advertising strategy

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Ugh. I’m starting to think we’re going to look back on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 era as being the golden age of gaming. Despite their share of flaws, those consoles at least seemed to have gamers’ interests at heart.

Not so much with the new Xbox One, apparently. The news that Microsoft is specifically building their new console to turn the data they’re able to gather on gamers – like their usage patterns and whatever Kinect 2.0 is able to glean – into cash is just another bullet point in the list of reasons I’m feeling pretty fed up with Microsoft right now. When they first announced the console and its controversial “features” that pretty much made the internet explode, I was prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt but this latest news, the blatant cash-grab they’re hoping to pull off on the backs of their customers, is nigh-unforgivable. It’s greed, pure and simple.

Why else are they trying to sneak their privacy-compromising, ad-targeting Xbox One into our homes under the pretense of it being for our entertainment, if not for the sake of greed? Isn’t making $6bn a year enough? To me, this disgusting move shows just how much the Xbox strategy has moved away from “delivering awesome games to people who love playing awesome games” to “let’s turn the suckers who buy the new one into our own personal herd of cattle that can be milked for every cent they’re worth”.

As a gamer, I’m angry. As a thinking human being, I’m furious. How dare they?

The huge controversies that have surrounded the Xbox One ever since it was announced, which this “built for advertising” thing now forms part of, have come about either because the actual message behind the Xbox strategy was unclear, or because the message was received loud and clear and gamers didn’t like what they heard. Personally, I think it’s the latter. Either way, that indicates a major fail on the part of the Xbox division’s leadership, and tells me the company is incredibly out of touch with what their customers – gamers, especially – want, and has chosen instead to force down our throats what they want us to want. 

So yes, I’m not enamoured with Microsoft at this particular time. A lot is up in the air, of course, and it’s always possible I am entirely wrong about just how intrusive the Xbox One will be since the console is still months away from release, but what I’ve heard about it so far doesn’t fill me with excitement. Instead, it really, really pisses me off that my value to them is not as a gamer who loves games, but as an entity to be exploited, with the reward for having my eyeballs raped by un-asked-for advertising being the ability to play the occasional game. Fan-fricking-tastic. 

I’ve learned recently that Microsoft is going to hold another press conference at the Gamescom exhibition being held in Germany in late August. I’m hoping they will say something useful and interesting this time, and not incense me any further than they already have; hope isn’t high, however. But because I am a gamer and I actually want the Xbox One to succeed, just as I want the PlayStation 4 to succeed, I’m going to give them one last chance.

Don’t screw this up, Microsoft. Please.

Deon du Plessis

Deon du Plessis

Deon got his first taste of PC gaming at the tender age of 11 when his father bought an 8088 XT, ostensibly to "help him with his homework". Instead, it introduced him to Leisure Suit Larry, King Graham, Sonny Bonds and many more, and Deon has been a PC gamer and hardware enthusiast ever since. He landed his first professional writing gig in 2006 at a prestigious local PC magazine, a very happy happenstance as he got to write for a living about things he loves - tech, PCs, gaming, and everything in between. He's been writing about it all ever since, and loves every minute of it.

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