The best way to keep a job as a marketer is to never go off message. That’s precisely what happened when I interviewed Xbox’s head of console marketing Albert Penello on our E3 stage this week. While he was more than happy to talk about the Xbox One X’s tech specs and the impact 4K gaming will have on everyone, asking harder questions about Xbox as an organization resulted in a lot of non-answers. But there were a few tells.
When I pressed him about Microsoft’s reliance on timed exclusives and seemingly abandoning original games in favor of sequels to its headlining franchises (Gears of War, Halo and Forza), for instance, he said this: “We’re clearly invested in game [intellectual property]. The industry’s not going anywhere, there’s going to be plenty of time to bring new IP.” Which is to say, Microsoft isn’t worried about creating a robust stable of original games any time in the near future.
Then there’s the explanation for how Microsoft arrived at the Xbox One X name:
“If you look at phones, there’s all kinds of different types of names used and people manage to figure it out. You’re gonna know ‘I want the 4K one,’ [you’re gonna know] by price or bundles or color; I think people will figure out which console they’re buying.”
Good luck getting a hapless Best Buy or Walmart employee to explain which one “the 4K one” is to someone who isn’t a NeoGAF member. Both the One S and the One X contain UHD Blu-ray drives, play 4K videos and support HDR. That’s to say nothing of their similar designs and the myriad colors and bundles each will be (One X) and is (One S) available in.
Thankfully, Penello was clear about which Microsoft franchise he’d love to see resurrected.
“Oh man, I’m gonna get in so much trouble for saying this. For me it would be MechAssault. I love robots and multiplayer; I think there would be a great modern interpretation of MechAssault. And I’m fired,” he said, laughing.
The last MechAssault that graced Xbox hardware was 2004’s MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf for the original Xbox. But hey, maybe we’ll get to play it again with the newly announced backwards compatibility program.