Microsoft Scoffs Military Personnel with Xbox One Comments

Xbox exec Don Mattrick tells soldiers, in so many words, "Sux 2B U n00b!"

I had a friend who worked as a civilian contractor for the Army. They stationed him over in Iraq in 2005 with the job of keeping the internet going for our soldiers in the “green zone”. Many an interesting Skype call came from there, let me tell you. But one thing that he took over with him were gaming consoles.

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For military personnel, gaming is how they take a break from the world. Most of these soldiers grew up on video games, and more than a few love to play HALO in their downtime. It’s such a comfortable part of their daily lives that they’ve adapted Xbox controllers to run ROV & UAV’s. And how does Microsoft thank our service members? By telling them in so many words “Sucks to be you.”

In an article from the Army Times, soldiers have already spoken up about the restrictive practices the new Xbox One will have which will basically lock them off the system. You can only play in a limited number of countries (So soldiers in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait or Japan can’t log in), the games are region locked (so no care packages from home with the latest title) and the very real safety concerns of an “always on” microphone or camera that make commanders more than a little skeptical.  Add to that the “24 hour check-in” aspect, and soldiers in remote locations just can’t get high speed internet, and you have larger problems.

However, Xbox executive Don Mattrick, president of the Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment division, has addressed these concerns for our soldiers overseas. Mattrick is quoted as saying “Fortunately we have a product for people who aren’t able to get some form of connectivity, it’s called Xbox 360.” You can hear it for yourself on a Gametrailers’s video (1:51 in).

The real damage, however, is when Mattrick said (2:10 in above video) “When I read the blogs and thought about who’s really the most impacted, there was a person who said, “Hey, I’m on a nuclear sub.’ I don’t even know what it means to be on a nuclear sub, but I’ve got to imagine that it’s not easy to get an Internet connection. Hey, I can empathize. If I was on a sub, I’d be disappointed.”

OFF duty asked Microsoft officials if that empathy might translate into practical workarounds for the military. “I don’t have additional details to share and can’t speculate on workarounds at this time,” wrote Xbox rep Danica Stickel in an emailed response to questions. “Military personnel will be able to take their Xbox One and play their games with them without an issue as long as the game has been ‘activated’ once in the U.S. Your games go with you and play, no issues,” she says.

If you need things spelled out for you, basically Microsoft just told every military soldier they aren’t allowed to play on the new Xbox One if they’re stationed in any remote region, on a ship, or can’t get internet access. Needless to say, many of our servicemen are not pleased with Microsoft’s apparent scoffing.

“Microsoft has single handedly alienated the entire military.” says Naval Aviator Jay Johnston. “And not just the U.S. military — the militaries of the entire world.”

Joel Hruska, a writer for Extreme Tech, wrote “This is shameful, telling troops that you ‘empathize’ with them is both embarrassing and hands Sony perfect ammunition. Do I think Microsoft is going to change? Honestly, no.”

And that’s a problem. Microsoft has declared that if you can’t have a 24/7 internet connection, for whatever reason, you need to get an 8 year old console and that is that. Mind you, this isn’t the first time Microsoft has slighted the US Military. In 2010, they allegedly refused to sell Xbox 360s to the US military for training purposes.

With all this in mind, it is my opinion that you won’t be seeing many Xbox One’s overseas any time soon.  I also doubt that Microsoft is even in touch with modern gaming to make statements like they have.

UPDATE  6-19-13

Microsoft has announced that they will be lifting several of the restrictions listed in this article.  You can see their official announcement on their own website, but important to this article : 

“An internet connection will not be required to play offline Xbox One games – After a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc based game without ever connecting online again. There is no 24 hour connection requirement and you can take your Xbox One anywhere you want and play your games, just like on Xbox 360.”


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TygerWDR
I'm a gamer. I'm a reality junkie. I'm a cynic. I'm a dinosaur. I'm a writer. I'm so much more than a paragraph can say. You want more? Ok. I started a video game show on the internet some time ago. See, I've played video games since Intellivision and Atari 2600 and PONG back in the day. Retro-gaming doesn't really fire me up as much as seeing how the community ticks. And after seeing way too many "I'm too young to have played this game when it first came out but it MAKES ME SO ANGRY" reviewers who would happily eviscerate my childhood for lulz... yeah I tossed my hat into the ring. the quickly scooped it back up, I'm told I have a bald spot that needs covering. Outside of gaming... yes I go outside shut up... I like to play paintball when I can. I snowboard a lot, when I can. I go mountain biking, when I can... seeing a trend yet? I prefer reality to video games, but at 4 AM it's hard to find a paintball game going on. Lately I livestream a lot, playing video games for an audience.