Microsoft issues Xbox One warning…

In a small snippet of news that Microsoft seem to have sneaked out during the GTA V frenzy, fans of the upcoming Xbox One console have been warned against standing the machine upright. According to Microsoft’s senior director of product management and planning, Albert Panello, this is due to the use of a slot-loading disc drive. He went on to say that 80% of 360 users lay their Xbox 360s flat anyway, implying that this won’t be much of a problem.

We don’t support vertical orientation; do it at your own risk,”

Until this announcement, I hadn't noticed the Xbox One always appear flat in the promo pictures?
Until this announcement, I hadn’t noticed the Xbox One always appear flat in the promo pictures?

Now, I’m no stranger to numbers and the implied ‘this wont affect 80% of our users’ is a great way to spin this. Much better than ‘20% of our users MIGHT have an issue with this’ – though that is just as true. Or even ‘1 in every 5 Xbox 360 users stand their console upright.’ put like that, it would appear they could have a headache on their hands in the future.

Of course, these numbers are virtually impossible to prove. That 80% could easily be much higher – or significantly lower. There’s no real way of knowing without checking with every single user globally, which Microsoft certainly haven’t done. This is all just spin.

So why announce this at all?

Well, there are two reasons as I see it. The first one is that Microsoft is being upfront this time. Anyone who remembers the initial Xbox 360 will remember what a shambles that console really was – ESPECIALLY if you worked anywhere that sold them (having to return 8 faulty 360s in a 4 hour shift really sticks with you). Red rings of death were only part of the problem. By far the biggest issue was if your 360 was anything other than flat and perfectly still, you were at extreme risk of the machines laser burning and ruining your disc.

Stores were also told when this DID happen, it was the customer’s fault, certainly not the machine’s or Microsoft’s! We were told NOT to return games that suffered laser burn. Thankfully a good number of store managers (mine certainly) ignored this and not only returned the games but advised the customers how to handle their shambolic console (eventually, Microsoft DID admit their were issues and extended the machine’s warranty to 3 years).

Laser burn. A familar sight to anyone who breathed on their 360 while playing a game.
Laser burn. A familar sight to anyone who breathed on their 360 while playing a game.

Worryingly, the second reason for this announcement could well be setting up a similar scenario. ‘Do it at your own risk’ certainly sounds to me like ‘we don’t want to hear about it when your top of the line next-gen console destroys your brand new game.’

This may sound cynical. It is. But if you worked in games retail at the time the 360 launched, you’ll know exactly what I mean and have a fairly good idea of what may be coming.

Do it at your own risk.”

It IS a warning right enough, just maybe not the kind you think?

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