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?