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Xbox cancels, Twitter explodes

- June 5th, 2013

Now how are we supposed to find out what makes Xbox One levitate?

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.

The owner of Torches R Us had a really great day today.

 

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3 comments

  1. Steve | June 8, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    Will so called games ‘journalists’ actually do their job and stand up in these so called press ‘conferences’ and ask tough questions? Otherwise they are just presentations.

    If Sony don’t make it absolutely clear whether or not they are including the same anti-features that Microsoft have announced, will any journalists have the balls to stand up, make themselves heard and force the people on-stage to give a straight answer live and on-camera?

    Or are these ‘journalists’ just on a jolly? Because if they sit passively in the audience, they get no more or less than those of us watching on a video feed.

  2. WallStreet | June 9, 2013 at 10:52 am

    This is not “journalism”, it is gaming and entertainment.

    No-one covering these events is going to jeopardize their attendance at future shmooze-fests by asking any hardball questions. They will drink their drinks, eat their eats, kiss the arses and take the giftbags.

    “Gaming” or tech reporters report on what they are paid to report on – emphasis on PAID.

    There is a tech “writer/reviewer” on staff here that would test and rate (highly) tampons if his pay cheque required it.

    Plse – faux tech / faux news / faux reporting.

  3. Steve Tilley | June 10, 2013 at 10:33 am

    Allow me to correct a couple of misconceptions.

    First, these press conferences are attended by hundreds or sometimes thousands of media, analysts, retailers, game developers and publishers and so on. These aren’t the events where questions get asked and answered (so maybe “press conference” is actually not the best word.) The questions come later, in smaller sessions and one-on-one interviews. And believe me, many hard questions will be asked of all the players this year.

    And WallStreet, while you’re right in saying this is just gaming and entertainment, nobody who covers this industry seriously does it for drinks, eats and gift bags (there are gift bags? Why wasn’t I informed?) Nor do the companies we cover have any say in what we write about their products. You’re right about one thing – I am paid to report on this stuff (among many other things), but I’m paid by my company to be objective, not by the companies I cover to give them preferential treatment.

    There’s definitely a lot wrong with so-called games journalism, I’ll give you that. But one of the advantages for working for a mainstream news outlet is we don’t have the symbiotic relationship with the people we cover that enthusiast outlets might. It ain’t a perfect system, sure, but it’s certainly a lot better than you’re making it out to be.

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