When Microsoft reversed its Xbox One policies a few weeks back, there was momentary hope that the company has listened to its customers and understood the features they were asking for. Granted, this was brief -- the company promptly dashed such ideas by throwing out all the Xbox One's good ideas alongside the 24 hour Internet connection and publisher-controlled used-game policies. Still with Mattrick gone
, there was some hope that maybe the company would reintroduce plans like Family Sharing and put the console back on track.
Microsoft's big new feature with Kinect? Advertising.
That, in and of itself, isn't really very surprising. Xbox 360
had ads from the beginning. Then they revamped the dashboard and added even more ad spaces. Ads on Xbox One, despite the fact that you paid $500 for the console and $60 for the yearly service, isn't very surprising. What is
surprising is that the advertising team has managed to convince itself that this is actually a good thing.
"On Xbox, the ad is part of the actual experience, it’s not something that is outside. The only difference is that the advertisement we have is quite small and not disruptive so people are not aware of clicking on the banners because they know this is a part of the whole experience on the dash," a UI designer recently told StickTwiddler. "So the users know that this is something that when they click on it, they won’t be hit by something crazy or something dangerous like on the web. Everything that lands there, we create."
Because this worked so well in 2011, right?
is developing native advertising, where ad content is displayed alongside relevant material, either embedded in search results, promoted on a network like Facebook, or a "Liked X? You'll Love Y!" style of marketing. Not to worry, though -- the company plans to use Kinect
to make these advertisements even more engaging than their current counterparts. In the future, Kinect may offer you a "Choose Your Own Adventure" style narrative in which you speak commands or give orders to an ad as its playing to change the final outcome.
The other way the company wants to use Kinect is to monitor what's going on in the living room to serve you group-appropriate content, rather than resorting to the plain old method of bombarding you with non-interactive advertising for things you don't care about. Microsoft claims that the demographic data the ad team can access is very limited, but it's hard not to see shadows of the same patent for movie licensing that the company applied for last year.
Telling gamers that the Xbox One
is an ad-centric experience and attempting to spin it like a positive doesn't actually work. Sure, people may engage with a new type of advertising at first, but that's not because they actually like or value the ads -- it's because the experience is new and different. According to Xbox staff, the new console is exciting because "the 360 console wasn't built with advertising in mind, it was more of an afterthought... whereas this new one is going to have advertising in mind."
Well, that settles my mind. I was terrified that the Xbox One wouldn't be able to show me interactive ads in the middle of game.
If this keeps up, I'm going to run a contest: "Who wrote this Xbox One story? Microsoft -- or the Onion?"