Opinion// Quote Not-Quote

Posted 19 Jun 2009 18:35 by
Steve Ballmer: Not Quote
Steve Ballmer: Not Quote
The things that CEOs say. What a day it's been for that. Microsoft's Steve Balmer quoted as talking about a new console when he was, in fact, talking about Project Natal. Then Activision Blizzard's CEO, Bobby Kotick looses one of the most shocking statements made in the video games industry since Microsoft announced it was getting involved.

Let's start with Ballmer's speech at the Executive Club of Chicago (which sounds like the kind of place the guys from Madmen or The Office would hang out in, I'm just jealous).

As I write this even the Microsoft reps are apparently trying to lay hands on a transcript of what their CEO actually said; this strikes me as odd as it suggests that Ballmer went rogue and departed from what must surely have been a carefully prepped monologue to deliver to the Execs of the Windy City.

For now we have to rely on a single report from TG Daily which said:

"The new device will be equipped with technology that is 'really, really close' to an actuality. The console, which was described as having a 'natural interface,' will have a built-in camera with the ability to recognize movement and voice."

Let's look at the bits in there that were actually said by Ballmer according to the report itself:

?natural interface? and ?really, really close?.

The site reported live from the event and I've been over that transcript; no mention of the word ?console? in there either.

Even a cursory read of the quote should have indicated that Ballmer was referring to Project Natal. As Microsoft has already stated that full-body motion control device will be compatible with current Xbox 360s; as those consoles are, again according to Microsoft, only half-way through their ( I say, 'their' because of the number of motherboards inside different units); you might have expected reasonable coverage to look at the ?quote? and decide that maybe 'new console' wasn't actually what was said.

Still, that hasn't stopped reports ? including TG's own ? stating that there will be a new console in 2010.

Maybe this was due to combining the not-quote with stories such as 1UP's that drew a conclusion that the next Xbox would appear in 2010 from its own podcast discussion?

?On this week's Listen Up podcast we discussed Natal, and David Ellis and I talked about what we've been hearing regarding the new technology -- and how it's actually the cornerstone of Microsoft's next evolution of the Xbox. Microsoft will not only release Natal as an add-on for the Xbox 360, it will come standard with the next Xbox console.

Yes, there will be a new Xbox console next fall?, was how that one went.

Again it was picked up as fact and run (wild) with across the expanse of the Internet.

Right now it wouldn't surprise me if the TG Daily phones had rung hot with discussion with Microsoft's marketing people trying to re-imagine the message. Microsoft's retail relations people will also have been hard at work reassuring their contacts that all that Xbox 360 console stock would indeed keep moving off the shelves because consumers won't be hanging out until next year waiting for the new camera/console/Xbox 720 thing that Steve Ballmer announced in the town once owned by Al Capone.

Robert Kotick: Quote.
Robert Kotick: Quote.
Ballmer's not-quote (until we all get the transcript), however, is nothing on the excremental cyclone unleashed by Robert Kotick, CEO over Activision Blizzard ? along with EA, is in the top two of the world's biggest third-party video game publishers.

I know he likes to be called Bobby, but I figure that's on a par with William H Bonney wanting to be called Billy the Kid; it softens the image, and Robert was not being soft when he said:

?They (Sony) have to cut the price (of the PS3), because if they don't, the attach rates are likely to slow. If we are being realistic, we might have to stop supporting Sony.

?When we look at 2010 and 2011, we might want to consider if we support the console ? and the PSP too.?
Let's have a think about a parallel in any other industry that could equate to Koticks' statement.

I'm thinking... the porn industry withdrawing itself from BetaMax to concentrate on VHS leaps to the mind of one advisor.

More recently Warners pulling out of HD DVD lead to Paramount following, which lead to the demise of the format.

Yes, it's that's big. It's unlikely that it will force Sony into price cutting, however. It's also unlikely that Activision will sacrifice sales on PS2 in places like China, India and South America.

The difference between the two stories, however, is the key here. The Ballmer piece has no real attributable quotes, whereas Kotick is quoted verbatim. Which story has got most traction on aggregator sites such as N4G though?

Yes, you guessed it... the Steve Ballmer not-quote that has as much chance of irrevocably chaning the video game landscape as, well, this op ed.

The opinion expressed in this article is that of the author and does not reflect those of SPOnG.com except when it does.

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