I haven’t been retweeted this much since that whole Justin Bieber thing.
Earlier today I mentioned in passing on Twitter that Microsoft had cancelled the Q&A roundtable that was going to follow their Xbox One-focused E3 press conference on Monday morning. It was a disappointing turn of events, but since actually having a roundtable after an E3 press conference is fairly unusual, I saw it more as an easy come, easy go type of thing.
The Internet at large, however, had other opinions.
My tweet was posted in a thread on NeoGAF, probably the largest and most vocal gaming forum on the web, and from there was picked up by several gaming media outlets. After racking up hundreds of retweets, many of which theorized the cancellation was a move by Microsoft to avoid journalists’ probing questions, it was then retweeted by Joe Vargas of AngryJoeShow.com to his 54,000+ followers, and my Twitter exploded anew. More vitriol, more theories.
So, let’s set the record straight here.
I generally consider emails to be privileged information by default, but because this one was worded in such a way that it was clear it was coming from the Microsoft mothership and not originating with regional PR (and thus, I assumed, was going out to all my compatriots who cover games), I figured the message was fair game to pass along. The email says Microsoft has been proud to share its vision of Xbox One and has lots of great stories to tell at E3. “Unfortunately, due to some changes in our executives’ schedules – including some external industry and partner sessions – we are no longer able to offer the Core Roundtable session on Monday June 10 at 11:30am.” It than adds that Microsoft looks forward to sharing more about Xbox One during its E3 briefing, at its E3 booth and on the Xbox Wire blog.
This doesn’t mean Microsoft plans to duck all questions during E3. Far from it. Lots of journalists, including myself, have interviews lined up with various Xbox executives during E3. Lots and LOTS of questions will be asked.
Now, does ditching the roundtable right after the press conference mean Microsoft will have a better chance of controlling the Xbox One messaging for at least the first day or so? Sure, and judging from all the crossed wires and conflicting quotes at the Xbox One reveal in Redmond last month, that might not be a bad thing.
But whether this is a deliberate move to do exactly that or legitimately just a matter of conflicting schedules is not for me to know. I prefer to take Microsoft’s explanation at face value, but I’m also not privy to the inner workings of their communications machine. And like I said, even having a roundtable in the first place was going to be an unexpected bonus. Sony, for instance, is having no similar confab after its press conference (at least not one that I’ve been invited to), but they too are making executives and spokespeople readily available during E3.
I think we all agree that Microsoft has had a rocky start introducing Xbox One into the world. But I’m not sure this particular development requires us to bring out the pitchforks and torches just yet. Let’s sit tight and see what next week has in store.