Microsoft Unveils Unveiling

Journalists worldwide had egg on their face this week after a surprise move by Microsoft, announcing their upcoming unveiling of their next generation Xbox.  While most had touted that the ‘Big Two’ would lift the lid on their new-gen kit at their respective E3 press conferences, Sony were first out of the starting gate when, on February 20th of this year, their heavily-advertised live stream revealed the spec and features of the PS4. With nothing but silent shrugs or the occasional ‘no comment’ from the Microsoft camp, it was believed that the world would find out about the new Xbox in June.

This week, in a dramatic turn of events, Microsoft upped the ante by going one better than Sony by announcing an actual unveiling.  Across the globe, the inboxes of Xbox Live users received an email with the subject line of “In 27 days…” within which was an oddly-obituarial graphic detailing the exact time and place of “A New Generation Revealed”.  It was the announcement that millions of Xbox gamers had been waiting for, and it was coming sooner than expected… yet years later than was needed.  We spoke with Dawn Matrix at Microsoft to ask whether they were tempted to let the cat out of the bag after Sony turned the tables on them by revealing the PS4 ahead of the new Xbox.

“Not at all.  They may have beaten us to the punch in terms of the actual date of their reveal, but we’ve gone one better as far as advances in marketing strategies are concerned.  Sony merely teased that they were planning ‘something’ but were non-specific about their plans whereas, if you were to look closely, Microsoft kept quiet this entire time with no teasers and in our email on April 24th effectively unveiled an unveiling. Our marketing department said that’s more betterer.”

Why are helicopters in movies always silent until they appear over the top of a canyon?

It could be a coincidence, of course, but it may in fact be a stroke of genius.  This does raise the question of why they didn’t simply unveil the new Xbox in the email, linking to a pre-recorded video on a brand new website, killing several birds with one Kinect-thrown stone.

“We could have done that, but then we wouldn’t be able to get full use out of our huge screens, and we paid a lot for them.  It’s also difficult to convey progress on a static website with pre-recorded footage as there’d be no atmosphere, and so you can’t control when everyone gets to see it, whereas this way everyone sees the same thing at the same time.  Like our Kinect launch… elephants are considerably more impressive when you’re not expecting them.  If your friend tells you that we had an animatronic elephant then you wouldn’t get that sharp intake of breath when Dumbotron rolls out, but if you don’t know it’s happening and then suddenly BAM, there’s an elephant… it’s more exciting.  Like when Airwolf suddenly appears over a canyon.”

With the elephant card already played at a previous reveal, it would appear that Microsoft are running out of tricks and may ultimately lose out to Sony.  On whether she thought the new Xbox, and the live stream itself could compete with the PS4, Matrix had these final thoughts for us:

"Marketing finds a way"

“When we went with the tagline of ‘you are the controller‘ for Kinect, it wasn’t convincing enough for certain hardcore gamers and we had to ask ourselves why.  What if we took a risk and went with an actual controller this time?  What if the controller looked like you; would that be more convincing?  And what’s the point of the PS4 being able to power down your console at any point and be able to pick up where you left off? Think of all the advertising you’ll miss.  Those are some of the questions we had to ask our R&D team… and we got answers.  As for having already played the elephant card, this year we’re going one better with live animals.  You’re familiar with Dr John Hammond’s work, I presume?”

At this point, our interview came to an abrupt end as security caught up with us and Ms Matrix managed to wriggle free.

About the author…
Cottingly Welles: a young loner on a crusade to champion the cause of the innocent, the helpless, the powerless, in a world of criminals who operate above the law. To steal Doritos from the clutches of the corrupt and give Edward Woodward a run for his money, sans dodgy trench coat.

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