Sweet Zombie Jesus, does Microsoft need some lessons on introducing products?
It’s a rhetorical question: the answer is yes, yes, they do.
Yesterday was the unveiling of the Xbox 360, the new generation of Xbox which should be available before the end of the year (unless of course the Longhorn team is in charge, in which case it will ship with 1/2 the features in time for St. Smithin’s Day, 2008). Elijah Wood “starred” in this extravaganza, which told us literally nothing about the Xbox 360.
If you haven’t seen this monstrosity, let me set the scene for you:
Begin with Elijah Wood’s intro claiming that the Xbox 360 is so revolutionary, so earth-shattering, so absolutely mindblowing that if you don’t buy one you’ll be a virtual pariah because everyone who is cool and doesn’t have acne is going to have one and you’ll be left out and never be able to get a date and then you’ll have to spend all your time alone playing video games by yourself, uh. Well, never mind.
Launch then into a cheesy retrospective about Pong and Space Invaders. Hey, Elijah. I knew Pong and Space Invaders. Pong and Space Invaders were my friends. You don’t get to talk about Pong and Space Invaders, you 24 year old furry toed bastard…
Then, pan to a bunch of teen and early twenty skate punks and halter top wearing girls (I never saw any of those while playing Pong or Space Invaders, or Halo for that matter) all madly cheering amidst a greenish light. Voice Over: “and now, the future of everything, the only hope for all of humanity, the Xbox 360!!!!” Cue the music, the crowd parts, and….
It’s a girl with an enormous handbag.
Is that the new Xbox?
Oh wait… she’s approaching the podium, and…
Pulls out an absolutely gi-normous white box, and places it on a podium.
Cue Green Flash and Green Laser Effects!
And then, cut to songs by The Killers, whoever the hell they are.
Surely they are going to tell us something about the box though, right?
Uh, no. The remainder of the half hour was spent carefully avoiding showing us anything interesting about the Xbox 360 or why we should want one.
Even Robert Scoble didn’t have any enthusiasm for this launch.
Whoever is in charge of the Xbox at Microsoft could learn a few things from Steve Jobs:
- Advertising is only really useful when you have a product to ship. Announcing a product six months prior to its availability to the public merely tips your hands to your competitors and keeps people from buying your original machine. Care to guess where sales of the traditional Xbox are gonna go in the next six months?
- Beautiful people do not sell products. Having good products sells products. That means cool games running on cool hardware. The question that people will ask before buying the Xbox 360 is just this: why should I buy? What will this box let me do that my existing system will not? We saw no answer to this yesterday.
- The market for video games is not nearly so much about 18-23 year olds. 20% of the gaming market is over 36 for god’s sake, and we are more likely to have the diposable income to actually buy your latest gadgets. Video games are also approaching gender parity, so a more thoughtful approach to the way you portray the sexes might be in order.
I’m going back to sleep until the thing ships.
Need more information/discussion? Slashdot has some links. Favorite quote from that discussion:
Whoa! I actually felt the 30 Minutes of my life pull from my body after watching that.