I had a dream about Microsoft and the NSA

Any successor to the 360 should have been a huge home run, a cake walk for Microsoft.

Provide better hardware, cleaner look, improved controllers and overall gaming fidelity. Paint it black and give it a slick name before the holidays. Sit back and watch the $$ flow.

They focused on features for the Kinect no one asked for, without any real improvement in game play. This makes me very suspicious about the true origins of these requirements.

Where is the flagship killer Kinect game that uses my heartbeat and emotions?

If those features where so central to gaming, why are they not a part of the launch by being included in a major game release? Unless these details are still to come, I would say this is misplaced requirements for a system that should be more focused on immersion vs behavior monitoring.

Having my real pulse shown in my Battlefield 4 screen or the game environment respond to my emotion could be cool, but unless the gamer and owner of the console are in full control of these features, comprehensive control like the V-Chip in most TVs, they can appear insidious. Think about it for a minute. High resolution sensor, one that is connected to the Internet and in my home focused on my family. What if they are hacked? What if Microsoft introduces new features in the future I want to shut off and can’t?

This much access to millions of American homes requires a level of class, trust and respect to execute correctly. Not a caviler “use a 360 for offline play”, directly attacking the customer and then after the resulting uproar, back-peddling and promises.

The Always on feature and forced bundle of Kinect really drive the bad sentiment home. I am paying a lot of money for something I own. $100 more than the PS4. Why can’t I use it how I want? In an age of losing privacy, why demand this is part of the experience when very few if any use the Kinect today?

It is as if, someone in the marketing department ignored any actual information about what gamers want and said,

“Let’s take the user action tracking of the browser and bring it into the living room. Instead of mouse clicks and page views, it will be family eye views, emotion and pulse reporting while TV content is on screen. Advertisers and Brands will be interested to know what people are doing and feeling when they are watching their content. Xbox One has to be Always on, always watching, and connected to the internet, even when watching TV. Make them all mandatory for use with our new services, if they don’t like that tell them to use a 360.”

This is just wild speculation of course, but even still, given the feature set and the bad handling of PR during the announcement left me with little trust they care about the gamer. Metrics like these are a goldmine for a marketing director and something no one else in the market is close to providing. A monopoly they can sell access to reports by the truck-ton.

I argue in a world increasingly moving to digital content, where historical sales metrics are fuzzy, they can give the Nelson Family some competition.  Even track Netflix and other services like Youtube views. I could understand Microsoft focused more on future Facebook-like revenue streams by selling access to monitored likes, the user just has to become excited while watching content with Xbox One to like something, instead of clicking a thumb icon.

As of March 31, 2013, 77.2 million Xbox 360 consoles have been sold worldwide, Microsoft was thinking large for the Xbox One. The big picture here is a system in millions of living rooms that can record viewer emotions and possibly aggregate this with TV content at time of recording. This gives Microsoft a way to provide detailed reports about viewership emotions by the second.

Imagine telling an advertising brand you can sell them heart beat charts and mood of tens of millions of viewers, superimposed over their commercial video keyframes. Know what the viewer is feeling during each second their content is onscreen.

The Kinect is a fantastic platform with real potential for new experiences, only if you use it the right way by keeping user privacy as a priority. People stare at their iPhones all day while their cameras are on, GPS tracks their every move and yet they wait in line to buy them. It is all about how a feature is implemented, the message from the company and what control the end user has.

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