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An Xbox Twitter Gaffe – Explodes

April 5, 2013

Xbox console - RRODMy Twitter feed lit up yesterday following a series of controversial and – it must be noted – unofficial tweets by Adam Orth, Microsoft Studios’s creative director. He was responding to negative comments on the rumored “always on” requirement for the next Xbox gaming console currently in development. “Always on” refers to a Digital Right Management (DRM) scheme designed to curb pirated games by checking their authenticity over an internet connection every time they are played.

Here’s the actual Twitter exchange:

Adam Orth's tweets.

Adam Orth’s tweets.

From a public relations point of view this is bad for two reasons big reasons. First, companies don’t typically make public comments about unannounced products (even, or perhaps especially, if they are heavily anticipated). Here Orth is essentially confirming the existence of a controversial feature in an unannounced product. Secondly, he is doing it in an impudent and tone-deaf manner.

To make matters worse for Xbox’s PR team, Orth’s tweets and the subsequent Internet backlash were reported today by Forbes, The Huffington Post, CNET and many other news and gaming blogs. Part of what made the story so juicy was the easy availability of the Twitter graphic. It’s begs to be stuck in the middle of a post (like I just did).

The other thing that makes this story so irresistible is that it fits well into the narrative of Microsoft as an arrogant, uncaring behemoth. And I have to admit that it sounds remarkably like the type of comments I’d often hear internally at Microsoft meetings. It also sounds like Orth was just being flippant and jokey, not deliberately mean-spirited. I’ll bet he’s a nice guy. But it does confirm for me that Microsoft’s corporate culture remains far removed from the customer-centric view exhibited by the world’s most admired companies. I’m sure that any of Microsoft’s many official spokespeople would have handled this differently, but this snarky attitude would never have occurred in a company where each and every employee is focused on earning and keeping the customers’ trust. That’s the type of company I want to work for.

Postscript – This just in..
Thanks to the awesome power of social media, Microsoft Studio’s creative director is getting his 15 minutes of fame – but not in a good way. Less than 24 hours later Adam Orth’s comments have spawned several “Always On” internet memes and even a “Hitler hears about “always online” new Xbox” video.

Some variations on the Adam Orth “Always On” internet meme. Source:_

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