I wish I could say I was surprised. Microsoft is making an art out of alienating gamers with the upcoming next-gen console release. The Xbox One will be featuring a new dashboard user interface that was built with advertising in mind meaning users will be seeing more ads on their console. Key members of Microsoft’s UK Xbox Live Advertising Team recently told the website StickTwiddlers about the advertising plans on a recent visit to the company’s headquarters.
During the visit, the senior digital art director/user experience designer and technical account manager for Xbox Live advertising revealed that all advertising created for the platform must work with both a standard Xbox controller and the console’s mandatory Kinect camera system.
“With the new Xbox One, the technology and Kinect has improved a lot,” said the technical account manager for Xbox Live Advertising, “so that actually, the voice recognition, the way you speak to your Xbox, and the transition between gaming and watching TV is a lot smoother, and hopefully we can transpire that into advertising that we do.”
The senior digital art director/user experience designer, also commented about the push to make the Xbox One more of an entertainment hub rather than solely a gaming console.
“Xbox is moving more outside of the bedroom. We’re seeing much, much more people use it in living rooms where there is family, friends, there is lots going on, so there is a context of perceiving the content. It’s not like when you’re at work, when you sit in front of a screen and your experience is very personal. But with Xbox, it’s lots of people in front of one big screen. They are playing or watching together, and advertising is being consumed in a totally different way.”
Microsoft has explained that the advertising plans are to better serve consumers in the long run with more contextually relevant ads while integrating it within the console for a less jarring experience.
“On Xbox, the ad is part of the actual experience, it’s not something that is outside. The only difference is that the advertisement we have is quite small and not disruptive, so people are not aware of clicking on the banners because they know this is a part of the whole experience on the dash,” the senior digital art director revealed. “So the users know that this is something that when they click on it, they won’t be hit by something crazy or something dangerous like on the web. Everything that lands there, we create.”
The Xbox Live advertising technical account manager also mentioned that the 360 wasn’t designed to create ads for users and how the Xbox One will be better suited for the process.
“It’s going to be an exciting transition, though, because the 360 console wasn’t built with advertising in mind, it was more of an afterthought, so we’ve had to adapt to the technology and how we work to fit them in to the console,” said the Xbox Live advertising technical account manager.
There is also many worries from consumers about the Kinect camera being used to collect personal, identifying or biometric information thanks to it’s “always on, always watching” persona.
“This sort of works at two levels. There’s the game producers, who have a different API, so a different set of code and system that they use, and they’ve got a lot more control of the whole thing,” the developer commented, “whereas from the advertising point of view, we have a slightly more limited set, which is designed to protect the user. The company is very keen on protecting the user from any sort of abuse, so we can’t do certain things.”
In an attempt to calm consumers down and alleviate fears of the company spying on them, Microsoft recently released official information on how the Kinect camera can be paused, which personal data the system will collect, and how it will be shared with third parties.