For Our Consideration

Xbox E3 2013 press conference: World Of Tanks

Who Do You Think You’re Talking To?

Microsoft’s E3 press conference had no discernible audience.

By John Teti • June 11, 2013

The single spellbinding moment of Microsoft’s Xbox press conference on Monday came about as the result of a technical glitch. Patrick Söderlund, a vice president at Electronic Arts, set up a trailer for his studio’s upcoming game, Battlefield 4, which is the sequel to Battlefield 3. The trailer was entitled “Angry Sea,” but it was the technological seas that grew angry this day, my friends. The Battlefield trailer was pummeled from stem to stern with some unholy mix of glitches and backstage incompetence. First the video flickered, and then the audio cut out.

This audio problem had also afflicted a trailer earlier in the show, a preview for Crimson Dragon, which is a game about dragons. Because it was a game about dragons, nobody gave a shit, and the trailer was allowed to play out in silence. The stage managers were probably out back having a cigarette—again, because dragons. But when this same thing happened to a game where you shoot people, it was a mistake that could not stand—such is the hierarchy of the Xbox at E3, where shooty bits reign supreme.

Thus the event came to a halt as technicians presumably scrambled to make things right, and in that moment, the eyes of the world turned to Patrick Söderlund. He thought he would only be reading a teleprompter, but the gods had something different in mind for him this 10th day of June, 2013. They called upon Söderlund to vamp, to hold the audience’s precious attention while the demons of 7.1-channel audio were exorcised by those who know of such things.

Xbox E3 2013 press conference: Battlefield 4

And so it was that Patrick Söderlund told everyone to be quiet, although it wasn’t clear why anybody needed to be quiet for a silent trailer. “We will start over,” he said next. We did not start over. Nothing continued to happen. Then, at a loss, Söderlund said, “I’m fine.” At this time, in this place, those two words had an unexpected beauty. Minutes earlier, Söderlund had been an uptight drone rattling off empty phrases like “a true next-generation engine.” The kind of words that ooze out of executives’ mouths and fall to the ground without affecting a single soul. “I’m fine,” though, are the words of a human being appealing to our sense of empathy.

That humanity is why we get excited when something goes wrong at these big keynote events. When it comes amid a torrent of marketing lies and fake smiles, a snafu makes us perk up our ears. We sense that something real is happening, and that the person on stage will now have to be a person, like us, instead of a “so excited to be here” executive, like nobody. In a way, the “I’m fine” utterance was the first point at which we could perceive Patrick Söderlund to exist. He was talking to us.

“Talking to us” is an exception to the rule at Microsoft’s Xbox events. Their default mode is to address a demographic caricature who was born in a marketeer’s binder. That caricature, as far as I can tell, begins with a 20-something white male who only loves to shoot at things, except he also thinks magic knights are cool, just not as cool as the shooting. Plenty of those people exist, but the other thing about Mr. Demographic is that he just fell off the turnip truck. Everything is new and magical to him. When Mr. Demographic hears a developer of The Witcher 3 describe its “deep tactical combat, completely rebuilt from the ground up” with “state-of-the-art next-gen DX11 graphics,” Mr. Demographic does not feel like he is caught in a time loop of jargon that has been iterating since 1995. These phrases actually possess meaning to Microsoft’s imaginary friend!

Xbox E3 2013 press conference: The Witcher 3

Microsoft’s obsession with this idealized audience member has stunted their vocabulary. They only know how to talk to their composite of focus-group pie charts, and it showed on Monday. Most of the usual shoot/kill fare—Battlefield 4: Another One, Titankill, Ryse: Son Of Rome Who Stabs People, World Of Tanks—got oodles of stage time and long, lavish trailers, accompanied by some variation on the “next-gen” script that the Witcher fellow employed.

When it came time to discuss something outside the usual templates, though, Microsoft’s presenters were ill at odds. Below, an indie game from the makers of Superbrothers: Sword And Sworcery, received a perfunctory introduction from Microsoft’s Phil Spencer, followed by a one-minute trailer. The company simply doesn’t have the words for anything outside the usual template.

I don’t need the Below preview to be longer than it was. Nor is this only about indie games vs. studio fare, although independent developers were woefully underrepresented at Microsoft’s show. I’m just desperate to see Microsoft say something authentic—to give us a taste of humanity.

One uncomfortable exchange at Monday’s event showed the perils of catering to Mr. Demographic. An Xbox Live “community manager” and a producer of the fighting game Killer Instinct took the stage to put on a little demo of Instinct. The side-splitting gag of this vignette was that the producer—a man—handily beat the community manager—a woman—and then she came back in a rematch, giving him his comeuppance.

As the producer hammered away at his opponent in the first match, though, he dropped in some ill-advised banter. This included “Just let it happen—it’ll be over soon,” which he said to the community manager as he slashed away at her onscreen avatar. The creepy undertones were made more vivid by the fact that, at this point in the show, the Xbox Live employee was the only woman who had appeared on stage. The guy made a bad joke. It happens, and I’m not about to crucify him for it. It’s hard for me to blame him much at all, really. Microsoft created an environment where the perceived audience is a theoretical mass of pure mindless testosterone. Are we really supposed to be surprised when a bit of misogynist alienation ensues?

Xbox E3 2013 press conference: Titanfall

If the people on Microsoft’s Xbox team thought of their audience as human beings, they would have acknowledged some of the elephants in the room—like the Xbox One’s extraordinarily confusing used-games scheme or the privacy concerns regarding the always-on Kinect camera, which have only become more urgent as the nation realizes how thoroughly we are being surveilled. If they wanted to speak to people, Microsoft’s executives would not have ticked every box on their Buzzword Bingo card twice over. They know this talk of an “entertainment revolution” is bullshit, and we know it’s bullshit. Yet still they make us sit through this inane emperor’s-new-clothes charade, as they talk at length to nobody in particular.

This is how these events are done in the game industry, usually. It’s not like Microsoft is the only console maker that condescends to its players. Sony and Nintendo have done it on a regular basis, too. Sony did it just a few months ago, in fact. But last night, Sony changed the playbook. Its executives went ahead and talked about used games, assuring players that buying, trading, and lending software on the PS4 would be as simple as ever. They showcased a wide variety of games, refusing to pigeonhole their concept of the modern-day player (or the modern-day developer, for that matter). They promised not to make your console “phone home” to a nanny server. And they priced their new machine $100 lower than Microsoft’s.

Yet the substance of Sony’s riposte to Microsoft is almost less important than the fact that they made all these announcements with humor and swagger. It did not feel like Sony was talking past us—this was not a grim parade of humorless suits who were deigning to give us their attention. They made jokes and poked fun. The audience responded. What a difference it makes when you acknowledge the existence of the human beings in the room. Sony’s team spoke to us, and not because a technical glitch forced them into it. I bet Microsoft’s people now wish they had spoken to us when they had the chance.

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  • Enkidum

    Yup. 

    I’m sure the reality will be that the differences between the consoles are minor, aside from DRM, always-on, and the price. But the vast majority of people who watch these things are gamers, and they should be aimed towards people who… well… play games. Sony hit the balance just perfectly – spend a little bit of time talking about TV and movies and music, which are clearly going to be ever-more-important for consoles. But then spend the rest of the time showing games with actual gameplay footage (although, like everyone else, I could have done with 3 minutes less of the generic space shooter footage) and talking about games. Don’t aim your presentation at the kind of assholes who write for Entertainment Weekly, because (a) they write for Entertainment Weekly, and (b) they’re assholes, and (c) their audience won’t give two shits. (Apologies to anyone who writes for Entertainment Weekly, I’m sure you’re a good person.)

    And yeah, even if you aren’t out reading Angela Dworkin or what have you, at least make a conscious attempt to avoid coming across too bro-tastic. I only noticed one woman on stage (although I left for a lot of it for dinner) at the PS conference, so the reality is that the two companies aren’t exactly havens of equal opportunity, but at least they didn’t burn crosses on anyone’s lawn or anything. (There may be some mixed metaphors here, I’m a little tired.)

    And avoid the buzzwords. I mean, the PS people talked about social media and the cloud and interconnectivity, but mostly they looked like they were having fun. Even the execs.

    In conclusion, holy shit look at the PS+ stuff this week.

    • The_Helmaroc_King

      You just don’t understand! The next console generation is primed to revolutionate the paradigms! Can’t you feel the emotions behind the polygons?

      • HobbesMkii

        Plus you can watch TV on it (if you pay us to use services you already pay for!)

        • OldeFortran77

          Will there be value-added, win-win, right-shored synergy?!?!

          HobbesMkii summed it up. The Xbox can do more and more things that I already do more conveniently in other ways. It’s a good very long term strategy, but doesn’t do much here and now.

        • HobbesMkii

          @OldeFortran77:disqus The really odd bit is how MS touts this ability to watch TV, while somehow neglecting to realize that most people will jack their console into their goddamn TV

          “Oh, that’s nice…I can use my HBO Go on my XBox!”
          “Or…we could just press two buttons on the remote and switch to HBO…”

        • Daniel Leef

          Microsoft is trying to be Apple. That’s why they’re trying to link your windows phone to your One, etc. When i saw the One I thought, “If that thing was silver and had an apple on it, it would be the Apple gaming console.”

          Except that it Apple had released the One, people would be fighting eachother for the chance to buy one. And sign up for a two-year contract to AppleLive Gold.

        • DrFlimFlam

          Hey, some of us watch HBO GO on Xbox because we have our parents’ password.

      • Effigy_Power

        Well, I thought there was a definite lack of mold-breaking though. I was not impressed. Can’t have all these molds lying around.

    • zerocrates

      Uncharted 3, XCOM: EU, and I guess Machinarium are fairly big deals now coming to the Plus free dealie.

      It’s hard not to feel a little disappointed when you already have all the cool neat stuff, though.

      Edit: Actually the sale is fairly major now that I look at it. Tomb Raider for Plus members is a downright Steam-esque $20, Revengeance $30, that All Stars thing $14. This is more in the realm of discounting levels I was hoping to regularly see with Plus.

      • Enkidum

        The sale is kind of nuts this week. 3.75 for The Unfinished Swan, Sound Shapes, Quantum Conundrum, and Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit (plus Guardians of Middle Earth, but meh…), 5 bucks for Walking Dead Season pass, and solid sales on AAA games. Seriously, I’m becoming a rabid fanboi here.

      • George_Liquor

        Even for us non-plus plebeians  Sony has come out with some pretty sweet sales. I got Tomb Raider and Quantum Conundrum for 30 bucks a couple weeks ago.

      • http://www.facebook.com/jonathan.michaels2 Jonathan Michaels

        Saints Row the Third as well.

    • http://sarapen.ca/ Sarapen

      Come on, have you read Entertainment Weekly? Admittedly, I haven’t subscribed since the turn of the century but I used to read the book reviews avidly to find interesting stuff to look out for. For a new translation of Beowulf they actually had one of their staff writers who was fluent in Old English write the review.

      • Enkidum

        You caught me. Never read more than the website.

        I UNRESERVEDLY APOLOGIZE TO THE ASSHOLES NICE PEOPLE FROM ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY WHO WRITE PANDERING HORSESHIT INTERESTING AND WELL-RESEARCHED ARTICLES.

        (Honestly, I guess I was thinking of it as a step above TV Guide or whatever but I’m happy to be wrong.)

        • TaumpyTearrs

          No, Entertainment Weekly is mostly a hot turd on a cold street at this point. I’ve had a free subscription for a year from something else I paid for and I read it on the john despite hating it.

          Occasionally there is a decent article, but unless you are into issues with multiple True Blood covers or another article about how Lena Dunham is the voice of a generation its mostly terrible.

    • Chum Joely

      Thanks for the tip, I will be loading many things downward this evening.

    • Daniel Leef

      There are HUGE differences between the One and the PS4. The One has three OSs running at all times, the PS4 has only got the game engine running. The One uses ddr-3 while the PS4 uses Gddr-5. The PS4 uses AMD graphics while the One uses a customized microsoft processor. These specs have been released for months. 

      The One uses its internet connection to supplement its computing power, three of its 8gigbytes of computing power are permanently partitioned for the Kinect sensor and the App-runner OSs. If you want to have 2mpbs of your connection permanently tied up so that your Xbox One will run and look almost at parity with the PS4, go ahead, but saying that the devices are essentially the same is factually wrong.

      • Enkidum

        I stand corrected. Good points.

  • dgtlmeatloaf

    Let me ask you was it ok when they hid the ps+ requirement for multiplayer?

    • RidleyFGJ

      They didn’t really hide it, though; Tretton made it pretty clear that non-subscribers would be limited to single player modes.

      • dgtlmeatloaf

        You are a fool to think they didn’t purposely put it in with the excitement. I still think they hit it out of the park, but no one is an angel

        • RidleyFGJ

          Did they make a big deal out of it? No, but they hardly obfuscated it to the point of “hiding it.”

      • Loo Nerdopper

        Thank you for teaching me the word obfuscated. :D

        • mehh

          I learned that word playing tabletop vampire like some nerd. you learned that word in the comments section of a video game website like some nerd. 

          I don’t know how we should feel about that.

          In the spirit of words, “antipodal” means “situated on the other side of the world”; may it serve you well.

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

      I just lol’d pretty hard at this. 

      • dgtlmeatloaf

        I was caught up in the used game jazz and then I saw the multiplayer stuff

        • Enkidum

          I think people are bagging on you unnecessarily. There is something wrong with necessarily paid multiplayer.

        • The_Helmaroc_King

          @Enkidum:disqus If we’re talking about online multiplayer, then I have to disagree, at least in concept. There’s probably a number of cogent criticisms against the existing services, but servers do cost money.

        • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

          Nah, paid multiplayer blows. It’s just really irrelevant to this article about microsoft’s xbone fuckup. I read it as an xbox fan pointing out that sony isn’t perfect or something. I need to be less of a jerk on the internet. 

        • George_Liquor

          @Enkidum:disqus I’d say it’s unfortunate, but not necessarily wrong. After all, Live’s been doing it since Day One. The PSN consists of dedicated servers which host the games, matchmaking services and voice chats that allow multiplayer to work at all. I have no idea what it costs to maintain this infrastructure; maybe this is a blatant cash grab by Sony or maybe the old model of free multiplayer was unsupportable in the long run.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kevin-Johnson/501651 Kevin Johnson

          It’s possible the original high price tag for PS3 could offset the costs of free online play at the time. Realizing, though, that online play is optional (and, by emphasizing gamers, they indirectly supported single-player games), they focused the costs there. And at 5 bucks a month, that’s more than sound. Plus, you get a whole buttload of other features.

          It sucks mainly because people were so used to NOT paying for it. But it’s a sound decision, I think.

        • Enkidum

          @George_Liquor:disqus I guess the economics is pretty simple. They charge 100 bucks less for the console, but they make that 100 bucks back over two years if you get PS+, and required + for online multiplayer makes it far more likely that you will. Then you factor in the additional revenue they generate from the PS+ sales, and this could really be an astoundingly savvy move on their part. I can’t fault their logic, but I can’t like it much either.

    • http://www.facebook.com/deejaytaufiq Mohamad Taufiq Morshidi

      I’m okay with that though.

      I mean, in return we get awesome free games and there will be less annoying shits during Call of Duty online sessions.

      • http://sarapen.ca/ Sarapen

        But Xbox Live is a paid service and there are still annoying shits on there.

        • http://www.facebook.com/deejaytaufiq Mohamad Taufiq Morshidi

          Eh, whatever.

          Still, free games

        • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

          But you’re paying for them…

        • http://www.facebook.com/deejaytaufiq Mohamad Taufiq Morshidi

          @Douchetoevsky:disqus It’s $5 a month.

          That’s better than having to pay $50 a month or something equally terrible

        • valondar

           @facebook-698650979:disqus  Better =/= free.

          It’s games for $5 per month, not free games for $5 per month.

        • OldeFortran77

          I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again …
          America isn’t the Land of the Free; it’s the Land of the Free with Additional Purchase.

    • George_Liquor

      As long as Netflix doesn’t require a PS+ subscription, then I have no problem with this development; if nothing else, they still have a leg up on Live.

      • RidleyFGJ

        They were pretty clear about apps not requiring any additional paywalls. As it should be, because the more spotlight MS gets for doing that shit, the better.

      • Enkidum

        Yes, this is also a huge annoyance about Live. Plus the fact that it really doesn’t give you shit.

        • George_Liquor

          Yeah, I was gonna re-up last February when I realized that I don’t play Xbox games online anymore, and that all my streaming needs were being met by about 8 zillion other electronic boxes in my living room, so I let it lapse. 

      • happygolucky26

        It’s a mark against, but it’s a slight scratch compared to the huge gaping hole that is Xbox live.

    • oldtaku

       ’ok well they rape babies too’ is a very, very bad defense.

    • Enkidum

      Yeah, I was not happy about this. I’m a PS+ member, but this single factor was one of the strongest reasons why I never got Live Gold. It just felt insulting. 

      That being said, PS+ is frigging incredible, and if that’s what they’re willing to do to bribe me, I’ll do it.

    • SisterMaryFrancis

      ps+ is still loads cheaper than Live, and any of the other online features are still supported without ps+. I think I’ll have a smooth transition away from my gold membership when I get me a ps4.

  • ferrarimanf355

    I was ready to get an Xbox One, but now I have a PS4 preorder in hand. 

    • NephewOfAnarchy

       Same here. I actually panic ordered the Xbox One as soon as the announcement was made, but cancelled it in favor of the PS4 instead. Only bummer for me is that I never liked the flimsy Playstation controllers, and it looks like its pretty much the same thing this gen. Hopefully someone makes a robust third party controller pretty quickly.

      • OldeFortran77

        There was a telephone handset manufacturer (Siemans, I think) whose product got lighter and lighter with all the new materials available, yet people felt that the quality went down. Eventually they figured out that weight=quality in people’s minds and they actually added a metal bar to the phone just to make it heavier. It was actually labelled “quality bar” in the blueprints.

        • HobbesMkii

          That is fucking brilliant.

        • George_Liquor

          I’ve heard that same stupid complaint lobbied against this latest crop of smartphones. I think it was the Cnet review that said the Galaxy S4 felt ‘cheap’ because it didn’t weigh as much as the competition.

      • Kyle O’Reilly

         My distaste for that damn PS controller is so great that I’m honestly considering just skipping this next generation and riding out what I can on my semi-competent 1 gb video card laptop.

    • Cheese

      I’m probably going to preorder soon. Even if I cancel it based on the launch title strength, I still want Sony to know that they’ve won me over thus far.

      • sirslud

        ::Sony sales executive’s PC makes dinging sound, Sony sales executive looks over newspaper and top of glasses to stare at monitor, turns head and yells out office door, “Hey guys, Cheese is on board!”::

        • Cheese

          Hell, it’s not much, but it’s more effective than tweeting about it, or talking about it on a games website. For instance.

        • sirslud

          @TheOnceAndFutureCheese:disqus Oh, I just liked the mental image. I wasn’t making fun of you. :)

          To wit, my gamertag/steamid is kr4ftb0y/kraftboy .. cheese is an important part of my gaming persona.

  • http://www.facebook.com/deejaytaufiq Mohamad Taufiq Morshidi

    So yeah, i’m waiting for Sony to lower the price of PS3.

    Currently the PS3 SLim is being sold for RM850 (aka US$270) and while that’s nice and all, i still can’t afford it because of my financial situation (Bills Bills Bills and Bills)

    So yeah, unless if i get a salary raise (which might be possible), i just have to wait for the PS3 to go lower than RM650 (aka US$205)

    • George_Liquor

      They did it with the PS2 slim once the PS3 hit store shelves. Funny thing is, for a while afterward, the PS2 outsold the PS3 nearly 2-1.

      • rvb1023

         I imagine this holds true for almost every transitioning console and I expect it to happen to the PS$ and XB1 as well.

  • caspiancomic

    I missed Microsoft’s actual conference but picked up bits and pieces of it later. Thing I was most amped for, if you can call it that: Below. I know it was billed as a Bone exclusive, but I hold out hope that’ll it’ll one day end up on a nice sensible platform like Steam.

    The fact that the conference was generally a massive accidental act of self destruction doesn’t fill me with any particular dread or joy, though. I’ve owned every iteration of Sony’s home consoles, but have no particular loyalty to that brand or anything. Seeing Microsoft triumph wouldn’t have annoyed me, and seeing them crash and burn fills me with no satisfaction.

    That said, I did have one sincere emotional response to their show. I got the sads when I saw Dead Rising 3. First, because I was bummed that it was a Bone exlusive. But then doubly so when I saw that the Dead Rising series had been transformed from a franchise about dressing a grown man in a sundress and Servbot hat and duct taping a lawnmower to a wheelchair and killing 10 000 zombies in a controlled, tightly designed environment to a franchise in which a grown man drives cars around a gritty realistic city and shoots zombies with guns. In fairness being able to craft items on the fly seems like a big improvement over DR2′s system, and they made a concession to DR1 and 2′s madcap tone by including that dumbbell/buzzsaw thing, but come on! Hopefully that trailer was simply a gross misrepresentation of the game, because I’d hate to see a series as shamelessly dorky and fun as Dead Rising go all dark n’ gritty self serious Resident Evil on us.

    • oldtaku

       First, I would like to say that I sympathized with and enjoyed your reactions and feel almost the same way about DR3.

      Second, I’m laughing that XBone is already down to just Bone.

      • TheGameroomBlitz

        Seriously, that didn’t take long at all. I’ve got plenty of my own nicknames for the Xbox One; none of them polite.

      • http://twitter.com/zhandlen Zack Handlen

        I’m looking forward to a lot of “Laugh at my Bone(r), will they?” memes in the coming months. That Batman comic is useful in so many situations.

    • http://sarapen.ca/ Sarapen

      Speaking as someone who’s only got a PS3, I don’t think I actually want the Xbox to fail. I just want Microsoft not to be such shits to their customers or else it’ll give the rest of the industry ideas about getting uppity.

      • DrKumAndGo

        Speaking as someone who used to own two 360s, I am actively rooting for Microsoft to fail. A company that actively loathes its customers as much as Microsoft does really deserves a little comeuppance now and again.

      • Citric

        I want it to fail just enough that they learn their lesson, like what Sony did after the bungled PS3 launch.

    • spicollidriver

      another one of those things that puts off a lot of people (like me) that have been playing computer and video games for more than twenty years: yes, it’s perfectly okay to have “serious” games. but many of us also want games that are FUN!

  • http://twitter.com/ghookahs HUKASFILM LTD. ✩

    They could tell you how many millions they made off indie developers in the past.

    • Enkidum

      Is this a bad thing? (I’m genuinely not sure what you’re referring to.)

      • RidleyFGJ

        Jon Blow, Phil Fish, and the guys over at Team Meat certainly haven’t minced words about MS. Even Notch from Mojang has hardly said anything nice about them, and his game sold about a bajillion copies on XBLA.

  • zerocrates

    “…Microsoft’s presenters were ill at odds.”

    “Ill at ease,” maybe, or “at odds”? I’d expect this idiom mismatch from a blog manager, not a proud blog editor.

    • Captain Internet

      Fisk it baby, Fisk it!

  • vinnybushes

    Was it me or was “Just let it happen—it’ll be over soon” besides being misogynistic and extremely unpleasant, also the unintentional message of the Microsoft press conference? it was just them telling us “we know what you want. We’ve focus tested this whole presentation to within an inch of its life. So, let us tell you what you like, what you’re likely to buy and just sit there, listen, and take notes.” It’s like they treat profits and brand loyalty as a given, and all they need to do is just put their product out into the ether and rake in the profits.
     Did I see games that seem interesting to me at both press conferences? Yes, but at the Sony press conference I was allowed to pick and choose which games I like, as opposed to being told what I like, with the caveat that “Just let it happen—it’ll be over soon”. I’m sure at both companies I’m little more than a data point on a very large chart, but at Sony’s press conference I was allowed to be that deviating data point.

    • TheGameroomBlitz

      I think Microsoft will have to take its own advice when the Playstation 4 is a roaring success and its own machine is forced into the slow lane along with all of gaming history’s other failures. Say hi to the 3DO for me, would ‘ya?

  • oldtaku

    The audience for the Xbox One is other corporations.

    That explains everything.

    • http://theladyfingers.blogspot.com/ Ladyfingers

      It’s really the EAbox One.

    • DrFlimFlam

      exactly. the consumer is not an active party. they are to be advertised at based on the needs of the corporate partners.

  • OhHaiMark

    Obviously the best part of this whole thing was the Live Blog.

    *Sips Dorito and Dew tea*

    • oldtaku

       Waving to all you liveblog people. Wish we had livebeer tech.

  • caspiancomic

    Oh, one more thing: does anyone else think the current state of the Microsoft offices probably resemble something out of an Armando Iannucci series?

    • vinnybushes

      I have a mental picture of the election offices for Charles Foster Kane. Or maybe some frothing at the mouth manager a la Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross.

      • The_Helmaroc_King

        Games are for closers only.
        Privacy? Closers.
        Smart, respectful marketing? Closers.

        Kinect?

        That’s for everyone.

        • vinnybushes

          I had a manager at a retail sales job who tried to bullet-point “Always Be Closing” for us during a meeting. I was the only person besides him who knew about Glengarry Glen Ross, and I was fairly appalled that he considered Alec Baldwin’s character someone to be admired. I mostly just found it amusing rather than threatening, because I already planned on quitting.

        • HobbesMkii

          First place is your fired.
          Second place is we transfer you to a development studio
          Third place is laboring in Kinect Customer Service.

  • The_Helmaroc_King

    I have to wonder how Microsoft is going to respond to Sony’s conference. It might not be too late to pull a 180 (or at least a 90) and renege a lot of what they’ve said, but that won’t help their image, and it might be too late to pull out if they’ve already made promises to the publishers. Theirs is not a position I’d want to be in, but on the other hand it’s not like they haven’t been digging their own grave on this.

    • http://sarapen.ca/ Sarapen

      If they go back on what they said they’ll just look like chumps.  Genie’s out of the bottle on this one.

      • Cheese

        They’d be better off looking like chumps and followers than boldly walking face-first into a wall of angry consumers.

    • OldeFortran77

      MS won’t pull a 180, they’ll pull a 360. (this works on multiples levels!)

    • happygolucky26

      Yeah it’s going to be fun to see the backpedaling or carny stunts Microsoft is going to pull to get out of this mess.

    • petehammer

      My bet is that, especially with the used game things, they implement time restrictions on it (i.e., for 90 days after a game is released, the publisher gets x amount.  Between 90-180, they get y amount.  After 180, you can do what you want).  It would soften the blow with consumers and probably wouldn’t upset publishers too much.

  • zgberg

    From a business perspective, this is all Sony had to do to gain dominance in the next gen and kick MS to the curb. A shame because I love my xbox and not particularly a fan of Sony but there is no way in hell I’m buying an Xbox One. They will be lucky to sell “One.”

    • Rick Joyce

      Same here. I think I’ll just stick with my 360 until it dies and hopefully by then the price of the PS4 will have dropped considerably. Since I’m only mildly enamored of FPS games, none of MS’ exclusive games will keep me with them.

    • Fixda Fernback

      Agree wholeheartedly. I’m no fanboy of any game company really, but I’ve owned both the original Xbox, and the 360, for most of their respective lifespans. I also had a PS1 and PS2 but no PS3, but just kind of preferred the way Live worked so well versus PS online play (up until recently, that is), and also the exclusives to Xbox were more up my alley. That said… unless some serious changes come through the wire about the XBone, I’m definitely going PS4 this next round.

  • Ombakrobert

    Mr. John Teti, sir, if I run into you at E3 I’m going to shake your hand I tell you. I am so glad gameological exists and that you wrote this.

    • Ombakrobert

      Aww, I did not see you there – but it was my first time at E3 and boy was that some sensory overload, and I did work a little bit too… gonna catch up on the coverage tomorrow!

  • http://www.facebook.com/andy.tuttle.79 Andy Tuttle

    Just brilliant John. You are a master of the written word!

  • CNightwing

    You can place at least some of the blame for Microsoft’s imaginary consumer on the prevailing American culture of the last decade, coupled with the strongly reinforcing patriarchy. Boys and male teenagers of the last ten years have been repeatedly shown how much they should value the military, and the hypermasculine culture of responding to any threat with force. They grow up, they obtain a disposable income that’s higher than women of their age as a reward for their masculinity and so they are targetted. This has happened most decades since WWII really, resulting in governments that actively seek to maintain the disparity and reinforce the male position. I think it’s ironic that Microsoft, founded by a complete nerd and made successful by brains over brawn, have positioned themselves to become part of that reinforcement.

    • Roswulf

      I’m not sure this historical narrative matches reality.

      To throw out a few statistics, while there is a gender pay gap that has stubbornly refused to disappear, it is as low as it has ever been in recorded history. As a whole, our society is notable less violent than it has ever been (for the moment, ignoring foreign wars). Rates of gunownership are down significantly since the 1970s. The greatest shift in cultural mores in the last decades regards gay rights, surely the last place to expect significant progress in a culture defined by hypermasculinity. I am in no way claiming that the problems you allude to are either illusory or solved, just that they do not seem to originate with American culture either in the last decade of the last half century.

      There was no pre-WWII Golden Age, no time within recorded history when both the world as a whole and the play of adolescent males within that world were not saturated with violence and dismissive of women.

      • Kyle O’Reilly

         While you make some vaild points I don’t think they invalidate @CNightwing:disqus .  Yes, gay rights have advanced but the majority that supports them is still only as high as 55% percent according to the most recent polls and supporting gay rights does not invalidate many young men’s participation in our violence and testosterone based culture.  Just because you support Gay Marriage didn’t mean you weren’t first in line to buy Modern Warfare 3, get your UFC tickets and see the Avengers in 3-D.

        American Culture has been geared towards pleasing the young white male above all else and it shows no signs of stopping.

        Many women have an equal amount of disposable income to their male counterparts but Microsoft (and EA, and Sony, et al) have shown that they aren’t interested in courting them.

        As for violence, yes crime statistics have been down, but our culture’s obsession with portraying violence as the be all, end all in our media has only increased.  Compare the amount of on-screen violence and the attention it is paid in the original Star Wars versus a more recent blockbuster hit such as Iron Man 3.

        While we’ve made progress in a lot of ways, video games are still pushing an agenda aimed at appealing to adolescent-traits in men and boys.

        • Roswulf

          I have no quarrel with what you write here, nor with the part of CNightwing’s post that states “much about our culture sucks and I wish Microsoft were not a force for evil within it.” I challenge only the notion that things used to not suck.

          Iron Man 3 is more gruesome than Star Wars, but Star Wars has vastly more death. Blowing up the Death Star, killing thousands (tens of thousands? hundreds of thousands? More?) is the heroic climax of Star Wars. Is that really so much better? Maybe…but it’s not clear. And the fact that even as our culture has gotten more gruesome it has also gotten less criminal suggests that the decay is minimal.

          To extend the timeline back if only for rhetorical purposes, the Illiad, Gilgamesh, and the Bible are as bloody and vicious as Ryse, the Witcher, and Battlefield. If we want to build something better, more gender-balanced and creative rather than destructive, we need to look ahead rather than back.

      • CNightwing

        I feel like I should point out that I’m actually a typical European in disparaging American culture, but honestly, when visiting it is a little shocking to see how misogynist the country is. I’m talking about the little things mostly, like TV ads and the way people treat waitresses compared to waiters, if you find a waiter.
        I think a lot of the problem lies at the top too, where there really is no visible feminist agenda in government when even the supposedly left-wing party is in power.

        But yeah, I’m not saying there was a golden era, I’m just commenting that Europe became more equal after WWII compared with the US, and I think cultural reasons are at the heart of that.

        • Roswulf

           Well then…I take back most of what I said, sorry for the America-centrism. I agree that there are cultural differences in awfulness on this matter, and that cross-national models are useful. While I do not pretend to know the specifics, I think we can all agree to a rough Sweden-US-Saudi Arabia continuum of violent misogynist assholery, and I’m all for moving towards Sweden.

          Although having apologized, the patriot in me is feels obliged to launch into irrelevant anti-European-ism. How’s that refusal to couple economic unification with viable transnational political structure working for y’all over there, Huh? HUH? Whoo America!

        • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

          America doesn’t have a left wing and a right wing; it has a right wing and a crazy wing.

        • Rick Joyce

          And to belatedly jump on the irrelvant anti-European-ism, much of your lot seems to have lots of trouble (as much if not more than us) dealing with diversity (ethnic, religious) and immigration.

      • CNightwing

        I fear your insults sting slightly less than they ought, as I’m from Britain and I live in Switzerland. Anyway, screw economic unification, I want federated states. Nobody likes trade republics!

        • Roswulf

          Foiled again!

          *Retreats grumbling to his cave. A cave full of fireworks, eagles, and ‘chocolate’ that could never be labeled as chocolate in Switzerland*

    • Rick Joyce

      I’m with Roswulf on this one – I mean, just as one example look at the kind of men elected to the presidency. At one time, it was almost impossible for men who hadn’t served in the military to become president. Teddy Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Truman, GHWB…Clinton faced huge backlash for avoiding military service. But I don’t think it even came up that Obama never spent time in the military.

      And if you think culture is more patriarchal than it was pre-WWII, well… I just don’t know what to tell you.

      • CNightwing

        I don’t believe it was less patriarchal, but it was less militaristic. The country as a whole was against involvement in foreign wars, which is why the US didn’t join either World War until they had already started. This is probably a result of the Civil War being so bloody, but that was not something engaged in lightly.

        I don’t know, it just seems like there was a time when the most revered young men were those in college to become scholars, doctors, businessmen, whereas now they are revered because they can get a ball violently to the other end of a field.

        • Roswulf

          I’m not presently equipped to give this comment a full response, but I do want to flag the danger of interpreting US reluctance to enter into a fullscale Europe-centred world war into a generalized anti-militarism.

          The US was reluctant to join WWI because it seemed like a pointless meatgrinder of a war (and possibly divisive given the huge German American population), and to join WWII because WWI seemed like a pointless meatgrinder of a war.

          The US fought a major colonialist war in 1899, and was combating rebel forces until the dawn of World War I. Moreover probably the focus of the American military, and the popular imagination regarding the American military even into the 20th century were the so-called Indian Wars, violently subduing the native peoples of billions of acres of land. The early-20th century US had no problem with committing violence, when in was in its own perceived national interest.

        • Rick Joyce

          When was this time? Unless you’ve been around for many decades, you may be relying on some rose-colored imagined history rather than real history. Frankly, the US used to be far more imperial than it is today.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jonathan.michaels2 Jonathan Michaels

    So, once again, the company whose console came in third place in the battle comes back to be first place in the next gen.

    First Nintendo bounced back from third to take the lead with the Wii, now Sony appears to be leapfrogging the other consoles and taking the lead.

    Only difference is, this time Microsoft doesn’t get second place.

    • TheGameroomBlitz

      I’d be quite happy if Microsoft was pushed out of the video game business entirely. Their callous disregard for Xbox owners and eagerness to pen licensing deals with everyone from the NFL to Doritos suggests that they’ve forgotten who ultimately uses their products, and who should be getting their attention first and foremost.

      It’s a shame, really. I was impressed with the Xbox and the Xbox 360 remains my favorite console of this generation. But if this is the kind of attitude Microsoft will have from this point forward, I want no part of it.

    • Rick Joyce

      I bet Bone’ll still sell better than Wii U. Enough people really don’t care that much about privacy; they just want to shoot things.

      • spicollidriver

        but they might care about getting games for cheap.

  • thestage

    If they treated us like people, their press conference would be less of a press conference, less like every other terrible press conference ever.  And if you treated the people on stage like people, you would not curtly excuse a scripted rape joke on account of some nebulous on-theses point about corporate inadequacy.  A person wrote the rape joke, and (presumably) another person said it.  Those people could have, at any point, decided that rape jokes were probably not the way to go.  They didn’t.  Sure, Microsoft is terrible, not selling used games is a great way to get your employees to think about rape, I promise–but if you want people to be treated like people, then they have to take responsibility for their actions.

  • pragmatiker

    I’ve said this numerous times in various discussions, but the problem with the games industry nowadays is that is run by people with exactly the same MBA’s from exactly the same colleges and have  learned exactly the same marketing techniques and all therefore default to doing exactly the same thing which is to try to one-up the other guy instead of actually developing a new idea.
    The best comparison to the video games industry nowadays is the energy-drink business. All they sell is an image, and for a 1 dollar can of sugarwater that may be fine, but for a 500 dollar console or a 60 dollar game, you expect a lasting effect, not a quick rush. The MBA’s are very good at marketing the quick rush so that is what they do.
    When people with a business background start to interfere in a creative process, the end result is usually a half-arsed compromise, and that is what we gamers are reaping now for turning the industry into a success. Eventually the backlash will come and the Michael Bays of the games industry will be out on their asses.

    • jon_eric

      Eventually the backlash will come and the Michael Bays of the games industry will be out on their asses.

      …Just like the real Michael Bay?

  • vinnybushes

    I’m not usually one to post loads of youtube videos but this abridged version of the Microsoft press conference fairly well destroyed me. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=XlkZNNaYBro

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002342037632 Jonathan Carney

    It annoys me when people moan and complain that Microsoft is ignoring the indie games, etc – what do you expect?
    I didn’t spend the money I did on the leading consoles of the time (N64, Dreamcast, PS, PS2, xbox, 360) to play crappy looking games similar to what I played on the Megadrive, Amiga and Spectrum. 
    If I want to play delighful indie games I have an android phone. 
    Of all the games I’ve played on xbox 360, the ones I’ve enjoyed the most are Skyrim and Battlefield 3. Big budget games that have amazing graphics and gameplay. 
    To complain about games like Battlefield is to compain about films like Inception, Batman. 

    • vinnybushes

      Why do people care about platforms that support indie games? For the same reason people care about films that don’t have 250 million dollar budgets and can be fully digested 15 minutes after the film is done. People care about art, beauty, story, and depth. Why do many of us list Bastion as a favorite game (originally an xbla exclusive.)? Because, it tapped into something deeper, more emotional, and ultimately, more fun than blowing up a building for the twenty millionth time. Big budget triple A games have their place, but to rule out a game of more modest means because it has fewer polygons is frankly, as shallow as they come.
       Independent games are a way for people who don’t have access to vast swaths of venture capital to express themselves artistically, and to share that vision with others. Having an indie friendly spot on their marketplace is extremely low risk for Microsoft and, surprise, makes them money. You may not see the appeal but plenty of others do. Having a place to go on your home console where you can encounter something off the beaten path that could be more compelling than anything else you encounter for a while makes sense as a consumer and as a supporter of an art form.

    • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

      You are right. To complain about over-rated, solid-but-not-very-good AAA games is like to complain about over-rated, solid-but-not-very-good Hollywood movies. In fact, many people do draw a comparison between the creative stagnation in both of those areas.

      Indie games afford aesthetic and gameplay opportunities typically not capitalized upon by the AAA games industry, and the big companies’ fostering of indie developers has encouraged some of the more successful of these voices in the last generation – MS supported Braid, Bastion, and Super Meat Boy, Sony supported Flower, Flow, Journey, The Unfinished Swan. The loss of those voices would have been a more serious blow to last generation’s gaming climate than the loss of Call of Shooty 3 through 5 or whatever.

      Which is not to say that AAA games aren’t capable of artistry or innovation. But a console that discourages independent developers is effectively narrowing, by a great deal, the variety of games available on their platform. And that variety is something game players, even many “hardcore gamers” have come to appreciate, and to expect. It’s like marketing a TV that only receives one of two channels that only play Michael Bay and James Cameron tentpole movies, versus marketing a TV that can access a full cable package that includes movies, crtically acclaimed TV dramas, trivial little game shows, and weird foreign shit that makes no sense but is kind of cool.

      Also, while many indie games have more modest specs than AAA games, not all indie games lend themselves to a touch-screen interface, so your glib dismissal of them to smartphones isn’t really workable. Also many people, especially youngsters, have access to a console but not a smartphone. Also, a smartphone can cost as much as or more than a current-gen console, so why is it a waste to play an indie game on a $500 console but not on a $500 phone? I suppose you also have never played a flash game since it’s not powerful enough to justify using a $700+ dollar computer to run?

      None of your arguments really come together, honestly.

    • Enkidum

      Yeah, cause if there’s one thing that Braid, Bastion, Machinarium, The Unfinished Swan and Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet are known for, it’s their crappy graphics.

    • Citric

      Big budget games can be fun, as can big budget movies, but I like to have experiences I haven’t had before, instead of “Battlefield, Now On a Boat!”

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

      Yeah, I’m gonna echo what everyone else is saying and say that you’re totally wrong. Indie games are as close as games get to that higly sought-after Art with a capital A. 

      Skyrim is boring. Battlefield is boring. Hotline Miami is fun as fuck, and about a thousand times more interesting than either.

      • Enkidum

        Honestly, I have no problem with AAA games, and play them often. I played through Halo 4 this year and it was awesome, I have no real interest in Call of Battlefield but that says more about me than it does about the games – I’m sure they’re good. And I’d probably love Skyrim if I’d ever played it. I just think the idea that photorealistic graphics are the only things worth playing on a big screen is silly.

        • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

          Yeah, I was being harsh cause those dudes downthread put me in a sour mood. AAA games are fine. I’m not the audience, that’s ok. Call of Duty or whatever is pretty fun sometimes. No one bashes my beloved indies though. 

    • Croyles

      Indie developers of any industry are the trendsetters.

  • TheGameroomBlitz

    Oh man, the game sharing instructional video (at a whopping 22 seconds!) won my heart. One guy just hands a game to another guy, and that’s it, the way it should be. It also must have been humiliating for Microsoft, which was likely convinced by a syndicate of large publishers that Sony had similar plans for content restrictions on the PS4.

    You’re absolutely right about the massive gulf in tone between Microsoft and Sony’s respective conferences. Microsoft has had its eyes locked onto publishers and marketing partners from the moment the Xbox One was first devised. The end user was always just expected to come along for the ride, and was never given any consideration in the machine’s design. You could hear that indifference in the Xbox One reveal, the subsequent press conference, and all the interviews that followed. The words of Microsoft spokesmen like the detestable Don Mattrick were heavy with tangled corporate jargon, and had a self-serving, dogmatic view of the future of gaming. “Used game restrictions are the future of gaming. This is the way it will be, and you had better get used to it.”

    When you have competition, you’re not in any position to tell your customers what they must accept, because they will in all likelihood flock to companies who listen to them and address their concerns. It’s a lesson Sony learned in 2006 with the Playstation 3, and now it’s Microsoft’s turn to have a slice of humble pie. 

  • TimothyStone

    People wanted high quality exclusive games and Microsoft gave them what they wanted.  

    You wanted to be a moron and that is what you get. 

    • doyourealize

      Who are you insulting?

      • hastapura

        YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!

    • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

      Erudite, on-point, and unassailable counter-argument! You have me convinced!

    • a_scintillating_comment

      Hey-o! Better count that one!

    • Enkidum

      Counterpoint: U R SO GAY.

      • Toparaman

        U R MR GAY

        YA I M R U

        • Enkidum

          I retreat in the face of your superior logic.

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

      Oh this is good!

      AHEM

      Whoa there, hitler.

      Johnny Boy.

  • missmoxie

    I hope Khaleesi doesn’t get wind of your dragon statement…

  • Travis Douglas

    Wow, you just encapsulated most of my feelings about the conference in better phrasing then I could have dreamed. Great article.

  • Chip Dipson

    I agree with everything in this article. The 100 dollar price difference, along with a wide variety of  games (Octodad!) sold me a Playstation 4. It really felt like a game of chess with between Sony and Microsoft this year, except no one told Microsoft there was a board game going on.

  • The_Misanthrope

    That Battlefield 4 snafu really goes to show that, despite all the preparation and stage-managing, there really is no replacement for natural charisma.  I know that’s a tall order, since the line-up of speakers is largely composed of developers and executives, neither of which are professions used to interacting with the general public.  I suppose they lean so heavily on the fancy trailers that they figure that no-one will pay attention to the speaker.

    The bit about “talking to us” rings especially true.  I’m no expert at presentations, but I have found that whenever something goes off the rail–a video won’t load, you get your notecards out of order, whatever–it usually helps to take a moment and engage with the audience in some light conversation while you sort things out.  It not only gives you time to get your shit together, but it shows that you are more than the sum of your Powerpoint slides.  It also confers the illusion that you are still in control, despite the fact that something obviously went wrong.  And it never hurts to have a story/anecdote/joke on tap if you really need to stall for time.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kevin-Johnson/501651 Kevin Johnson

      I’m not a super fan of public speaking, but even I know a couple of canned responses when things go wrong. You begin with a simple “Excuse us a moment, we’re experiences some difficulties, but we’ll get back to showing you more of the XBOX X-perience in a few moments!” Then a few “How’s everyone doing! How’s everyone enjoying the presentation so far!” A little more canned nonsense, then boom – by that time everything up and running.

  • Cool Lester Smooth

    Well, those of us who play on the PC enjoyed hearing that TW3 will have deep, tactical combat, which was actually lacking a little with TW2, and true DX11 graphics despite resources being devoted to its cross-development on far, far inferior hardware.
    And the fact that it’s being rebuilt from the ground up is significant too, as it promises a complete overhaul of the combat system to better fit with the new, open-world gameplay.

    Hell, maybe we’ll get some mounted combat.

  • Kyle O’Reilly

    As someone who has been on stage when an audio-visual problem arose, I feel it’s kind of mean to pick on the Battlefield guy.  You don’t stop and think, “Hmmm, looks like a road-bump, better banter with the audience.” You think “Holy shit, Holy shit, Holy shit, we’ve been prepping for this presentation for months and now it’s all going to hell, what the frank!?!?!?!”

    It’s not a fun experience and the audience’s jeers at him were pretty low.

    But yeah, the press conference was lame and Microsoft done goofed and yadadada.

    I need there to be some new bombshell at E3 because I am already bored to death of this “Burn Microsoft, burn!” narrative that’s all across the internet.

    • http://tmaiblog.wordpress.com/ Chalkdust

      Before the Nintendo stuff, I was just thinking, “if I see Smash Bros., Bayonetta 2, Wonderful 101 and maybe even some of Monolith Soft’s next game, I’ll be happy” and that is exactly what I wound up seeing!  And I am happy.  Mega Man in Smash Bros. was a delightful bonus.

  • Tom Jackson

    As much as I agree with the emptiness of Microsoft’s constant onslaught of vapid statements I’m not too sure I’m on the same page with that apparent misogynistic comment.
    I honestly didn’t draw a connection between the two genders of the players but it definitely did play into their bizarre perception that their core audience is nothing but a bunch of testosterone fueled frat boys who love nothing more than to shout ‘EPIC WIN’ in other peoples faces.

    • evanwaters

       With any corporate event, it’s not the impropriety, it’s the appearance of impropriety. You don’t want people buzzing about the language of sexual assault in gamer culture when they should be saying “this game looks awesome.”

      What’s worse is that somebody wrote that. Somebody thought that would be good on-stage banter and other people approved it.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=767343655 William Burr

        “Just let it happen,” is a great Rorschach test for people looking to find misogyny in everything. People didn’t have this complaint when nearly identical lines were used in the show “Angel,” in “Twin Peaks,” or the movie “Anchorman.” It’s also just an odd recurring line that people have used in movies while choking someone unconscious. 

        • evanwaters

           But of course there was also “You like this.” “I don’t like this.”

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=767343655 William Burr

          Which has zero sexual connotation. Again, Rorschach test. Corny, trite, yes. Tacit acceptance of violence against women? In 2005, no. Today, why not.

        • Citric

          It’s context. It’s a line that could work in some contexts, sure, but here it was delivered in a creepy, mechanical manner and just sounded rapey, especially combined with all the other scripted lines during that section which sounded rapey as well. It was a really uncomfortable moment.

      • Tom Jackson

        That’s what I’m saying though, the thought did not cross my mind that the comment had any misogynistic connotations until reading this article. I felt the comment fed more into Microsoft’s bizarre perception of it’s audience rather than having any sexual implications.
        They’re playing a fighting game and my attention is focused on said game rather than the inane ‘gamer speak’ Microsoft seems to think we all appreciate.

        • Roswulf

           I would suggest that, given your screen name, you may not be the person most inclined to register misogynistic connotations. Such are the blindspots that come with male privileged

          I say this as someone who watched this part of the livestream, and thought only “this obviously scripted banter is poorly delivered. Makes me appreciate actors.” But I do not deny the validity of gendered readings of the moment, just because it did not read as problematic to me. My interpretation is not the only interpretation that matters.

          I do continue to insist however that the banter delivery was atrocious.

        • Tom Jackson

          @Roswulf:disqus I’m not denying the validity of interpretation or opinion, simply expressing my disagreement with John’s interpretation of the statement.
          All I saw was a poorly scripted sequence of badly delivered dialogue no different to anything we see regularly at e3. My only thought was ‘gee I wish they would stop talking and just play the game’ and nothing further.
          Perhaps my male brain was oblivious to the sexual connotations of the mentioned comment but it was a joke I did not feel was in reference to gender and would’ve been equally as lame had it been said to a male.
          I felt the priority of the statement was to address Microsoft’s perception of what constitutes their core audience and was not intended to imply malice towards the community manager as a woman.

          I am also in strong agreement that the banter delivery was exceptionally lame though the guy playing Project Spark probably took the cake.

        • Roswulf

           Rereading my comment, I think it was unfair to you (although I stick to the content of course). Didn’t mean to insinuate that you were a bad actor, my apologies for doing so.

          My excuse is that the E3 news has brought some racist and sexist trolls about the fair valley of Gameological, and that’s got me on edge.

        • Tom Jackson

          @Roswulf:disqus Hey no probs, I know the feeling and have already run into a few unfortunate instances myself.

  • SuperShamrock

    Jesus I hate this article.  It sounds angry and snarky and the complaints are nonsensical.  Like an angry video game fan trying to pack in as much vitrol as possible.  What I got out of the article:

    1) Some guy gave a presentation where the sound didn’t work and didn’t improvise very well.

    2) Some whining about Microsoft making games for white people (brown people are more into indie games I guess) .

    3) General snark about how indie games are better than mainstream games (maybe John Teti is a brown person).

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

      Get your stupid racist ass the fuck out of here.

    • Tom Jackson

      Woah there Hitler.

      1) For a company as big as Microsoft, you’d think they could scrape together enough dough to hire a half decent AV team.

      2)….Brown people?…

      3)….Really?…

    • Enkidum

      BROWN PEOPLE ARE ALL UP IN MY GAMEZ!

    • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

      I’m a brown person who is more into AAA games than indie games. I guess I didn’t get the secret brown person gaming memo. Damn. *hands in brown person card*

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

        Also, y’know, death to the American infidels and all that jazz.

        • Roswulf

           Wait a second…I thought jazz WAS a brown plot?!?!?

          Suddenly my Rube Goldbergian scheme to destroy Gene Krupa’s reputation seems ill-conceived and misguided.

          • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

            I was wondering what was going on when I saw that you had connected Gene Krupa’s hi-hat to a string which was connected to a pair of bellows whose opening was behind a sleeping mouse in front of a ramp atop which rested a piece of cheese on a plate balanced such that it would rise upon consumption of the cheese, causing a small iron weight to land on a teeter-totter, projecting a plastic Army Man into a can floating in a tub of water that would spill over its edges when the Army Man landed in the can, pushing the water into an overflow channel at the end of which was a small chamber that would fall from a hook upon filling, opening a trapdoor concealing a bowling ball that would fall on Gene Krupa’s drum kit.

    • James J.J. Carter

      What’s with this ‘white/brown’ thing anyway?  You’re talking about your racist bullshit and conspiracy theories.  Sounds like you don’t like reading about video games either.  Why the hell are you here anyway?

  • selderane

    “This included “Just let it happen—it’ll be over soon,” which she said to
    the producer as she slashed away at his onscreen avatar… Are we really supposed to be surprised when a bit of misandrist alienation ensues?”

    I’m curious if the above would exist had the gender roles had been reversed?  I’m thinking not likely… because it’s cool to imply violence upon a man.

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

      1) Misandry is not a thing.

      2) It didn’t happen that way. 

      3) “Because it’s cool to imply violence upon a man.” Ok you’ve got to be trolling here. 

      • selderane

        1) Merriam-Webster seems to think it is.

        2) I was drawing a hypothetical.

        3) And you’re obviously not interested in serious topics.

        • caspiancomic

           My man Fyodor never wants to talk about serious topics! All that guy cares about is that Microsoft brought out like one woman all night, joked about how she was crap at video games, and made rape jokes at her! Dood’s a total jokester!

          PS please leave forever.

          • selderane

            Ignoring that you wouldn’t bat an eye were the situation revered probably doesn’t mean anything. I mean, it’s only empathy.

            It’s probably not worthy to note the lack of it is common amongst psychopaths.

        • selderane

          Man… point out feminist hypocritical crap and people get jumpy.

          So much for being the crowd of open minds.

    • HobbesMkii

      I don’t even understand this response. “What if it had happened another way?”

      It didn’t happen that way. Can you imagine if society always respond through this crap minimization method. You get robbed, the cops show up and go, “well, what if your neighbor’s house had been robbed, huh? Bet you wouldn’t have called us then.” It helps absolutely no one in any way.

      If there were a four thousand year old history of sexual violence against men by women, pervasive across almost all culture and geography, your statement would be insightful commentary. But there isn’t, so it’s not. 

      And for the record–it’s not “cool to imply violence upon a man.” Violence generally isn’t cool–it’s violent. It’s right there in the name.

      • selderane

        Except your example is completely meaningless to what I’m talking about.  The author called out very tame trash talking as misogynistic because it was directed at a woman.

        What if it was reversed?  Would it be equally appalling?  If not, why not?

        Either you truly care about equality or you do not.  I do.

        Not everyone is like me.

        • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

          “Either you truly care about equality or you do not.  I do.
          Not everyone is like me.”

        • Roswulf

           Teti and numerous others are suggesting that the verbiage used in the conference was kind of rape-y. Given the detestable frequency of male-on-female rape, and its link with misogyny, Teti made a connection.

          Had the same language been used by a woman towards a man, Teti would not have made this connection. This is because female-on-male rape is infrequent and not associated with misandry.

          Or to offer a parallel, I am a white man in my 20s. Were I to encounter a black man in his 60s, he could call me “boy” with no ill feelings or negative connotations. I would never, ever, ever call him “boy.” Words and phrases have multiple meanings and varied connotations, and sometimes they shift depending on the speaker and the audience.

          • selderane

            So since by your assertion that female-on-male rape is rare it’s permissible for a woman to threaten a man with it?

            Just because you deem it not misandry doesn’t make it so. If it whatever-hating for one sex to say it, it’s only logical for the opposite to also be true.

            Unless you think the sexes aren’t actually equal. In which case, well, I’d agree. They’re not.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=767343655 William Burr

          “Kind of rape-y” is a chilling charge. You have to back that kind of thing up with more than “Me and my friend both think it sounds that way!” You’re not just throwing an accusation into the wind here, you’re specifically calling a real person, so far identity-invalidated as “male Microsoft producer,” a misogynist. 

          The words he used are near-trope status, used in television and movies as synonymous with “give up, you’re about to get knocked out.” They’re an utterly typical bit of fighting-game patter. If scripted, they were surely meant to be used whoever his opponent happened to be, man or woman.

          Changing the verbage to account for gender would have been paternalist and condescending, chauvinistic. 

          • selderane

            Ummm… I never said “Kind of rape-y,” sir.

        • Roswulf

           @selderane:disqus William Burr was responding to me- one of the perils of Discus is that after a certain number of nested replies, you can no longer respond to a particular post, and must intend reply to something up the ladder.

          It can get confusing.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=767343655 William Burr

        Well damn, if violence isn’t cool, then how do they keep selling so many Xboxes? 

        • HobbesMkii

          Well, it’s certainly diverting. I’m not sure it’s cool. If violence were “cool” it’d be an acceptable behavior. It’s not in society. 

          It’s an acceptable form of entertainment, provided everyone involved in that entertainment is a willing participant (or an actor, or created by a computer program). Violence is “cool” is boxing, in movies, in television, in video games, because within those realms violence is a behavior that does not cause injury to people unwilling to engage in violence.

          It’s not cool in real life. It’s not cool when you get assaulted. It’s not cool when your colleague brings you up on stage in front of a room full of press to imply that he is raping you.

          You’re a thinking, feeling human being, yes? You see the difference?

        • OldeFortran77

          Gameological Society turned into a Voigt Kampff test so gradually I didn’t even notice!

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=767343655 William Burr

          If you’re asking me if I can tell the difference between colleagues participating in a piece of marketing theater in which one slings fighting-game cliches at the other, and a situation in which one party is forcibly coerced into sexual intercourse by another, yes, I can tell the difference between those 2 things. 

    • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

      Okay, let’s engage in this little thought experiment. If the gender roles had been reversed, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that there still would have been an outcry. Woman-on-man rape and man-on-man rape are often ridiculed in various media and creative works. (The former is actually played for laughs in Wedding Crashers.) But there are myriad progressive bloggers and commentators on the Web who are cognizant of how sexual assault with male survivors is treated and portrayed, and I have doubt that they would have been swift to condemn that kind of talk even if the gender roles had been reversed.

      None of that makes the rapey trash talk at the Xbox presser okay. Is this one occurrence a big deal in the grand scheme of things? Probably not. But these little micro incidents add up and contribute to a general feeling that certain people – in this case, sexual assault survivors and women – are unwelcome in gaming. It should have been clear to Microsoft that what’s fine between close friends gaming on the couch is inappropriate for an official corporate press event.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=767343655 William Burr

        Having now watched the exchange: http://youtu.be/LHE0CQK1sZo , anyone who thinks there was anything remotely sexual, implied or otherwise, about the banter, is completely insane. Not only was it not anywhere in the same universe as innuendo, it actually suggests another plane of existence in which every sexual organ, penis, vagina, cloaca, or other, is either long-dead and buried a mile beneath salted Earth, or never existed in the first place.

        More offensive is how he just sat there and ate punches in the second round so she could win. Totally condescending. That is not a believable way to throw a fight.

        • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

          I think you might have missed my point. I don’t think the word choice was intended to be sexual at all, but it was very ill-considered. Since I’m pretty sure this was pre-scripted banter, I’m surprised that nobody at Microsoft said, “Hey, wait a sec, this might be taken the wrong way.”

          Of course Microsoft wasn’t condoning sexual assault. That’s absurd. The problem – which is to an extent reflective of the wider industry – is that Microsoft was being inconsiderate and didn’t take them time to fully think about how their words may be received.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=767343655 William Burr

          I didn’t miss your point, I emphatically disagree with it. It wasn’t ill-considered at all, because it wasn’t sexual, intended to be sexual, or resemble anything at all to do with sexual violence. Having watched the video I also doubt it was pre-scripted. If anything it was a referential euthanasia joke by somebody who has watched a lot of movies and television. 

          This isn’t Microsoft’s problem, nor is it reflective of any problem in the industry. It is indicative of a problem though–people hunting down ambiguous stimuli and painting it with their own completely off-the-wall prejudice. They can’t stop people from making any bizarre assumption they want. They can’t anticipate every chip on every shoulder. The joke got a mild laugh from the audience who understood it better and had a better appreciation for its tone and context than most of the people in these comments. 

        • Citric

          So did you seriously start arguing long before you actually viewed the clip in question? That throws everything you say into question, as though you’re just the bizarro version of the people you decry, constantly assuming there’s nothing wrong when there actually is, and then getting enraged when people point it out even if you don’t know what they’re referring to.

          The exchange was poorly handled, from the scripting to delivery, and it’s basically the opening to an episode of Law and Order SVU (I was incredibly thankful for headphones, lest my coworkers think I was watching something objectionable at work). Of course, since you’re bound and determined to live in a universe where sexual violence doesn’t exist and ill-considered language should never be pointed out, you’re going to say there was no problem. It’s kind of aggressively naive. 

          For the most part, I am willing to accept not everyone found the exchange creepy, it did make it to stage after all. But if you’re starting to argue there was nothing wrong before viewing the clip, I can’t take you seriously, before or after.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=767343655 William Burr

          Wow, hold your horses there sport. I didn’t start arguing anything, I started comparing notes, as did others, based on the words that were reported. That doesn’t call anything into question, I made no comment about the presentation before watching it. I’m pretty sure still most of the people here haven’t watched the exchange, they’ve been reacting to what has been said about the exchange, which is part of the problem. There are numerous reports talking about the exchange that seem damning. The full context isn’t clear though, until you actually see the setting and hear the words delivered.

          So yeah, I did comment that the words themselves weren’t necessarily super-rapey, before watching the clip. That’s absolutely fair game, as there has been plenty of coverage about what was said. A 2nd- or 3rd- hand account is even included in Teti’s article, which is really all anyone here is obligated to be talking about. Did you forget where you are or something? In the forum discussing Teti’s article?

          I guess I’m sorry if I violated your rules of having an opinion and a viewpoint! You seem pretty eager though for reasons to “not take (people) seriously.” I’m not going to lose sleep over it.

        • James J.J. Carter

          The amount of energy you’re putting into this is just sinking your argument completely.  If you’d made one comment, it would seem logical.  To go on-and-on about it through the entire page makes you seem like someone who feels threatened by the possibility that rape jokes aren’t ok.  I didn’t think it was a big deal in the article either, it was just another little thing to remind us how it’s largely a boys’ club, but the more you go on about it, the more serious it looks since YOU can’t let go of it.

  • http://www.edmcdonald.org/ Ed

    I am switching to PC. I can by a decent gaming PC for a little more than one of these consoles and PC games allow their users a lot more leeway with mods.

  • Citric

    I think the difference was that Microsoft assumed that you would buy the console anyway, so they could do whatever they wanted. Sony knew that you might not, so they worked to give the audience a reason to buy it, and even appear as affable as possible so maybe you might want to give ol’ Uncle Jack $400.

  • tamper

    Microsoft has lost its way. The X-box is just the latest division of the company to catch the disease. Stillborn Windows 8, pricing a tablet to be more expensive than the market leader, etc. etc. its becoming a broken record.

  • Toparaman

    I thought the dragons game was the most interesting game showed at the Xbox conference, apart from MGSV.

    • Tom Jackson

      That game looked rad, would’ve preferred some sound on that than Battlefield 4.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kareem.harper Kareem Harper

    *SLOW STANDING OVATION*

    B R A V O !

  • Jesse

    EVERYTHING’S MISOGYNY NOW! Whippee!!!

    • Tom Jackson

      Stop being such a misogynist.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=767343655 William Burr

      Words “you’re going down” now prosecutable as a hate crime, as recent survey shows women more statistically likely to be on the giving end of oral sex. 

      • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

        Yeah dude, it’s political correctness gone mad!

        • http://sarapen.ca/ Sarapen

          It’s exactly like the Holocaust, except worse.

        • Toparaman

           Thanks Obama.

  • Federico Alvarez

    Brilliant article! I applaud you, Mr. Teti. 

  • XFistsClenchedX

    Congratulations, John Teti — this article is one of the most Sony-biased articles I have yet to read on the internet. It’s a bunch of nonsense.

    • James J.J. Carter

      Then feel free to fill in the blanks if you think the information is insufficient.  You say it’s nonsense, go ahead and say what’s nonsense about it.

    • Nelson Kaiton

      It’s called having an opinion.

  • DrZaloski

    I think the Xbone is just aimed at people without TVs.

    Well, I’m going to go back and cuddle my Wii U and pretend I’m actually playing a game on it that isn’t Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate. 

    Then I’ll go back to playing Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate in a unique state of exhilaration, confusion, rage, self and world loathing. 

  • MarloweSpade

    Very good article, Mr. Teti. I’ve been a Sony customer for quite awhile, for no more noble reason than I prefer their controllers. Having lived through my share of Sony PR disasters, it was refreshing to see them actively swinging the pendulum the other way, right in front of my eyes.

    Also: Christ on a bike, people – if you make a comment that could be interpreted in an extremely negative way by a significant section of the populace whom you are presumably trying to sell expensive merchandise to, then that comment/banter is in fact ill-fucking-advised.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=767343655 William Burr

      You are vastly over-estimating the degree to which anyone who isn’t a complete lunatic gives a shit about the so-called “rapey” comments. Either that or you honestly believe there are people out there who say to themselves “Well, I was going to buy an X-bone, until that marketing guy at a niche developer conference said “just let it happen” to that marketing woman while they were doing a poor job of pretending to play a fighting game against each other.”

      • Ian Williamson

        Dude YOU sound like a defensive lunatic with a vested interest in this.

        Love the losers that chomp at the bit to defend some corporate dude from “gasp” the opinions of some consumers.