Uh Redmond, you have a problem, and his name is Adam Orth...
Microsoft has some damage control to take care of, and if any of the decision makers in Redmond have an ounce of sense, they'll issue an official statement, and perhaps an apology, STAT. For what, you ask? Well, it's never good when your games director takes to Twitter to argue with fans over sensitive subjects like always-on digital rights management (DRM), and it's even worse when he cops a condescending attitude the way Adam Orth did. Here's what happened.
Amid rumors that the next generation Xbox console -- Xbox 720 (Durango), or whatever it ends up being called -- will implement an always-on Internet requirement, Microsoft Studio's creative director Adam Orth went on a Twitter posting rampage in defense of such a scheme, and came off like a jerk in doing so. The Internet community didn't take too kindly to Orth's comments, and perhaps at the urging of Microsoft (or maybe common sense finally kicked in), he turned his Twitter settings to private. Ah, but this is the Internet we're talking about, and his tweets are all over the place. Here's the one that started it all:
"Sorry, I don't get the drama around having an 'always on' console. Every device is 'always on.' That's the world we live in. #dealwithit," Orth tweeted.
Naturally, his tweet didn't take long to elicit a response, and here's how the ensuing conversation went when a couple of readers disagreed with his statement:
Adam Orth: I want every device to be 'always on.'
Alex Wells: Off the top of my head I know 5 people who 360s who current have no access to the Internet. They would be screwed.
Adam Orth: Those people should definitely get with the times and get the Internet. It's awesome.
Manveer Heir: Did you learn nothing from Diablo III or SimCity? You know some people's Internet goes out right? Deal with it is a shitty reason.
Adam Orth: Electricity goes out too.
Manveer Heir: You've lived in LA, SF, Seattle... very connected places. Try living in Janesville, WI or Blacksburg, VA.
Adam Orth: Why on earth would I live there?
Adam Orth: Sometimes the electricity goes out. I will not purchase a vacuum cleaner.
Adam Orth: The mobile reception in the area live in is spotty and unreliable. I will not buy a mobile phone.
What we have is a classic example of how NOT to talk to your company's potential customers, not unless you're trying to drive them to the competition, which in this case would be Sony and it's upcoming PlayStation 4 console. What's even more shocking is that these comments come from someone that's pretty high up the totem pole.
Now, let's not get carried away and view this as confirmation that the Xbox 720 will requires an always-on connection. Maybe it will, maybe it won't. But if not, Microsoft would be well served to come out and ease gamers' minds, don't you think?
As for Orth, he's since claimed he was merely trolling Heir personally and that this was all part of the "normal back and forth" they share, an explanation Heir seems to accept, even if the Internet community doesn't.
Well, as we hoped, Microsoft offered an official statement on the matter, though disappointingly it decided not to stomp out rumors of an always-on requirement. Here's what Microsoft told Game Informer:
"We are aware of the comments made by an employee on Twitter. This person is not a spokesperson for Microsoft, and his personal views are not reflective of those of the company. We have not made any announcements about our product roadmap, and have no further comment on this matter."
This is probably the best you can expect from Microsoft until it officially unveils the Xbox 720, which is rumored to be available by the holiday shopping season, same as the PS4.
Since this article was first written, Microsoft has come out and issued an apology of sorts via its Major Nelson blog. It reads:
"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."
Microsoft's carefully worded statement doesn't answer the question of whether or not its next Xbox console will feature an always-on Internet requirement, so the debate rages on. In addition, it's come to our attention that Adam Orth has deleted his LinkedIn account, though not his Twitter account, albeit it's still private.