Jun 152009

First off‚ in the interest of full disclosure‚ I own an XBox 360.  Despite Microsoft’s involvement‚ developers have managed to take a hilariously deficient piece of hardware (my personal RROD hit about 8 months after purchase) and build a gaming library that allows me to swear at 10 year-olds a couple of nights a week.

Now at E3‚ Microsoft pulled one of its game-changing-breakthroughs-for-which-we-have-no-release-date announcements.  Haven’t I seen this kind of thing before?  Tell me if this doesn’t look familiar:

-Is the product being pounded into the dirt by competition that is either better-in-class (PS3) or through the use of innovative technology (Wii)?  Check and check.

-Does the announcement have a delivery date?  Not really.

-Is the speculated release date for the product make it look less like vaporware?  Ummm…late 2010?  18 fucking months? Jesus Christ: that’s the tech equivalent of 10 years!

-Despite not having any official release date for a real-world product‚ has that prevented from demoing the non-product as something that looks pretty goddamned finished?  Or having it announced by an academy-award winning director (by the way Spielberg‚ after what you did to the Indiana Jones franchise‚ shilling M$ vaporware was a natural next step for you)‚ pimped by celebrities and hyped on late-night talk shows?   Nah.

-Are said demos staged‚ if not downright choreographed?  You tell me.  (Please make a note of the camera time depicting actual gameplay vs. the time spent on everything else.  I get 4 seconds.)

This is a classic M$ vaporware setup.

1. Announce something that looks like you have a shread of creativity.

2. Do not give a release date or imply a date so far out in the future that hybrid hovercars stand as good a shot of coming to market.  That way the product might be out in 18 months‚ but it could be 6!  OMG – which one is it?!?!

3. Enjoy the benefit of having frozen purchases of your competitor’s superior products indefinitely.

4a. Turn 18 months into 3 years‚ then shrug your shoulders and claim the product was “a concept”.

4b. Release something that has 10% of the utility (or as they like to say in Redmond “Teh Wow”) intimated by your breathless initial demos/celebrity knob-gobbling.

I have to give the company credit: they work this bit more effectively than anyone out there.

Update: Gizmodo reports that Ballmer has confirmed 2010 as the availability…year.  And we know that Steve the Less never misses a projection, right?

  3 Responses to “Project Natal: I Call Bullsh*t”

  1. To be fair, this was demoed last week on Jimmy Fallon’s late-night show BY Jimmy and it seemed to work pretty good. I, for one, welcome our new Natal overlords… and I find the Wii motion stick setup to be a nice novelty… but crap.

  2. In my laziness‚ I defer to the wisdom of the Wiki Gods:

    “Vaporware is a term used to describe a product…that has been announced by a developer during or before its development and, therefore, may never actually be released. The term is usually applied to products which fail to emerge after having well-exceeded the period of development time that was initially claimed or would normally be expected for the development cycle of a similar product.”

    They didn’t even need to update it for Natal. Because M$ invented this trick; it’s as old as Cairo – literally.

    “”What we wanted to do was — it’s important technology that we’ve been working on some time and we’re not ready to announce the release date or other specifics on that other than what we’re going to be bringing to market is controller free gaming and we’ve got some tech specs announced — such as depth camera, RGB camera, array microphone [and there’s] custom silicon inside there,” [Microsoft gaming executive and corporate VP John Schappert] said.

    So you hold a huge kick off for a product with celebrity and athlete endorsements, an appearance on late-night TV and you don’t have a release date? Name me one piece of consumer electronics that has done that in the last 5 years (besides one poofed from the con artists in Redmond).

  3. i would not have believed this was cool several years ago yet its interesting exactly how age adjusts the means by which you see quite a number of concepts, thank you for the blog post it really is nice to start reading some thing sensible occasionally instead of the general trash mascarading as information sites on the web, i’m going to take up a few rounds of facebook poker, cheers

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