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Why Is Microsoft's Plan to Turn Retail Xbox Ones into Dev Kits News Today?

A lesson in pulling the trigger on a news story.

There have been headlines flying all over the place in the last hour or so about Microsoft supposedly going back on its previous promise to turn every Xbox One into a development kit.

It's not true, the company said in a statement.

“The comments today were inaccurate," said a Microsoft spokesperson. "We remain committed to ensuring the best possible solutions for developers and hobbyists to create games for Xbox One. We will share more details at a later date.”

Digital Spy "broke" the news from the Develop conference currently happening in the UK.

"We were, in the early stages of Xbox One, looking at the idea of a retail kit that could be turned into a development kit, and vice versa," said Xbox Advanced Technology Group's Martin Fuller during a Q&A session. "In the end, although that was a very admirable goal, it hasn't happened unfortunately. Can't tell you the specifics of exactly why not. [...] "As far as I'm aware there are no plans. I'm not aware of the reason why we didn't manage to do that."

There are enormous red flags that reek of executive miscommunication here.

One, this happened during the Q&A, which means it wasn't part of Fuller's formal presentation, and he's speaking off-the-cuff. Should he be more informed about his company's policies? Probably, sure. But when Fuller says he's "not aware of the reason why we didn't manage to do that," that should sound some alarm bells, at least enough to send a simple email to Microsoft for press not liveblogging an event in real-time.

Even worse, Microsoft commented on the development kit situation yesterday at Develop, based on a report from Gamasutra.

"We have said that anyone will be able to use retail Xbox Ones to develop games," said head of ID@Xbox Chris Charla. "We're not there yet, so we need to send custom dev kits."

Oof.

As much as we'd love more companies to speak honestly, what happened next across a great many websites is why we don't see more of it. It doesn't help, of course, that several Microsoft executives are seemingly terrible at speaking openly, and it's hard to blame the press for wanting to report what a Microsoft executive says in public.

Still, a little caution--we had to wait less than two hours--would have save some headaches. Now, I'm faced with running stories like this, in which I have to consider publishing a news story to disprove a non-story?!

Microsoft's statement doesn't provide any clarity beyond reaffirming the company's previously announced plans, though. We still don't know when the switch will be flipped on retail Xbox One boxes.

As it stands, console game development has traditionally relied on developers acquiring pricey development kits. Granted, both Microsoft and Sony have freely loaned out developments kits for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 to kickstart independent development on both platforms, but that's not tenable long term. Kits potentially exclude hobbyist developers who are just getting started, and Microsoft's plan could open doors for many.

Patrick Klepek on Google+
103 Comments
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Posted by Terjay

Why is a twitter conversation news today?

Posted by DriveupLife

I'm confused by this story non story.

Posted by CrimsonJesus

Everyone's in such a rush to hate on companies like Microsoft, EA and Ubisoft that no one ever thinks of even doubting rumors that affect them negatively.

Posted by tavistavistavis
Edited by Sydlanel

Yeah I was also surprised to find this brought up again. To be honest I perfectly understand them not allowing it, as it would likely open up their hardware to a number of vulnerabilities and possibly complex consumer situations. However, it could easily be handled by some sort of online activation requirement ( as they originally planned for the whole thing).

As someone looking at the possibility of developing for their platform, it was indeed a very interesting alternative, but I think that the number of people really expecting this feature is rather limited.

It's just a shame that they can't communicate or articulate it better, since it makes them look bad to a much bigger audience.

Posted by SkullPanda1

This is why small business man still uses the post office. The Internet is a silly place.

Posted by spaghet3

Does anyone else think this article reads a little weird? There are some awkward sentences. Not trying to rag on Patrick at all, but I think an editor or proofreader would improve these stories.

That being said, Giant Bomb is the only place I go for any news, I don't need the stories hot off the press. I just want them accurate.

Posted by Bollard

@spaghet3 said:

Does anyone else think this article reads a little weird? There are some awkward sentences. Not trying to rag on Patrick at all, but I think an editor or proofreader would improve these stories.

That being said, Giant Bomb is the only place I go for any news, I don't need the stories hot off the press. I just want them accurate.

I already pinged Patrick a PM, I'm sure he will fix the grammar mistakes. I'm sure he's used to it by now :P

Posted by jimmyfenix
Edited by DannyHibiki

Microsoft representatives saying there currently is no plan to work on this still sounds like news to me.

Posted by Luck702
@terjay said:

Why is a twitter conversation news today?

It's Wednesday.

Posted by CByrne

Oh man, I didn't really care about this whole thing until I saw. "ensuring the best possible solutions for developers and hobbyists to create games for Xbox One." If I can, at a reasonable cost, just throw some boxes on the screen and mess around on my xbox with no plans on going commercial... Then awesome.

Posted by joshwent

So I'm guessing the point here is that Journalists should double check their sources before they publish a story, but when Martin Fuller uses phrases like, "...it hasn't happened...", and, "...there are no plans...", it seems pretty clear what he was saying. When you have a direct quote from a primary source, showing that to the public just seems like straight news. There shouldn't be a need to further ask the source, "Did you really mean that thing that you said in front of everybody?".

It's not the writer's fault that Fuller may have spoken out of turn or mumbled his words or just sort made something up.

I still can't understand why Microsoft employees have such an absurdly hard time with what seems to so easily roll of the tongue of every dev and publisher I see interviewed; "Sorry, I can't comment on that at this time.".

Posted by HammondofTexas

So the thing that isn't happening still isn't happening? Got it.

Posted by Lukeweizer

They also said they'd never take the Kinnect out of the box.

And they couldn't remove the "Always Online" component of the system.

Posted by Video_Game_King

Does anybody know the name of what Sony did with the PS1 that turned it into a dev kit for smaller developers? I know they did this, but I can't remember the name of the service or hardware or whatever it was.

Posted by Lyfeforce

Scoops, you're on a roll today with the news turnover!

Edited by DannyHibiki
Posted by TheBloodRite
@joshwent said:

So I'm guessing the point here is that Journalists should double check their sources before they publish a story, but when Martin Fuller uses phrases like, "...it hasn't happened...", and, "...there are no plans...", it seems pretty clear what he was saying. When you have a direct quote from a primary source, showing that to the public just seems like straight news. There shouldn't be a need to further ask the source, "Did you really mean that thing that you said in front of everybody?".

It's not the writer's fault that Fuller may have spoken out of turn or mumbled his words or just sort made something up.

I still can't understand why Microsoft employees have such an absurdly hard time with what seems to so easily roll of the tongue of every dev and publisher I see interviewed; "Sorry, I can't comment on that at this time.".

I see your point in the first bit of this comment, but it's kind of just as much of a non-point as you appear to think Patrick is making. If the phraseology of "...it hasn't happened..." and "...there are no plans..." is enough to make someone confident that this primary source is reliable, the phraseology of "As far as I know..." and "...hasn't happened...", which is in the progressive, and not at all a definitive tone that means "...won't happen..." should be enough to engender a bit of doubt in the scrupulous journalist who isn't just out to publish whatever seems interesting. Just because it comes from a primary source does not inherently mean that it's true, and as was said, "executive miscommunication" can and does occur, which means that a bit of precaution goes a long way - Patrick wrote this thing in like, an hour, if his diction's to be trusted.

Sure, it could use a lot of work, and sure it's not as extensive as it could be (I'm pretty sure neither of these things are the point). But it goes to show that fact-checking people who seem like they should be in the know really doesn't take all that prodigious an effort.

Posted by effache

"As much as we'd love more companies to speak honestly..."

you don't know me

Edited by liquidsnakegfer9

Man your pumping out the articles today patrick, nice job

Edited by EvanSnicks

I'm not sure it's entirely fair to "blame" journalists for quoting an executive. If Mr. Fuller misspoke (at a conference none the less) to my way of thinking, it's on him not the journalists. But when an executive says "there are no plans", that's news. It probably shouldn't have been presented as a definitive proclamation by outlets, but just reporting what he said is fine. Just my humble opinion.

Edited by MATATAT

Thanks for fixing that paragraph after "oof". I was kinda confused what you were trying to say.

Posted by KaneRobot

As Lisa Simpson said..."that was just confusing..."

Posted by gestault

I'm happy to see write-ups like this for scenarios like what we saw this morning. Misinformation resulting from someone thinking it was too much effort to ask for clarification on an unclear moment in a presentation should be unacceptable in reporting.

Posted by lanerobertlane

@joshwent said:

So I'm guessing the point here is that Journalists should double check their sources before they publish a story, but when Martin Fuller uses phrases like, "...it hasn't happened...", and, "...there are no plans...", it seems pretty clear what he was saying. When you have a direct quote from a primary source, showing that to the public just seems like straight news. There shouldn't be a need to further ask the source, "Did you really mean that thing that you said in front of everybody?".

It's not the writer's fault that Fuller may have spoken out of turn or mumbled his words or just sort made something up.

I still can't understand why Microsoft employees have such an absurdly hard time with what seems to so easily roll of the tongue of every dev and publisher I see interviewed; "Sorry, I can't comment on that at this time.".

I see your point in the first bit of this comment, but it's kind of just as much of a non-point as you appear to think Patrick is making. If the phraseology of "...it hasn't happened..." and "...there are no plans..." is enough to make someone confident that this primary source is reliable, the phraseology of "As far as I know..." and "...hasn't happened...", which is in the progressive, and not at all a definitive tone that means "...won't happen..." should be enough to engender a bit of doubt in the scrupulous journalist who isn't just out to publish whatever seems interesting. Just because it comes from a primary source does not inherently mean that it's true, and as was said, "executive miscommunication" can and does occur, which means that a bit of precaution goes a long way - Patrick wrote this thing in like, an hour, if his diction's to be trusted.

Sure, it could use a lot of work, and sure it's not as extensive as it could be (I'm pretty sure neither of these things are the point). But it goes to show that fact-checking people who seem like they should be in the know really doesn't take all that prodigious an effort.

I think that reporting what the executive said at a conference, was an ok thing to do. The original article also said that they had contacted Microsoft for clarification. Should they have ran with the story before hearing back from them is up for debate, But If I was at a press Q&A and heard an executive give that answer to press, I'd probably run the story too.

Posted by President_Barackbar

Boy Microsoft really needs to get their act together when it comes to misinformation about the XBONE. It seems like they STILL haven't learned from their confusing DRM messaging that its really important to make sure anyone speaking in an official capacity for your company should either be informed about what they are talking about or should just keep their mouths shut.

Posted by Krakn3Dfx

To be honest

We remain committed to ensuring the best possible solution for developers and hobbyists to create games for Xbox One

doesn't exactly scream "We're still doing this!" to me, it's almost as vague as the original statement that caused the perceived confusion.

I thought this sounded more like a bullet point for future possibilities when it was announced, and I still think it's probably more that than anything at this point. I would say that if Sony came out and announced that they were turning PS4s into devkits, too. When they first announced it, there were blurred lines across articles as to whether it was going to be a full devkit conversion or some sort of debug console, if anything comes of this in the long term, my money is on debug more than full out dev.

Posted by Karthas

Before reporting on something someone says at a press conference, make sure to call their mother first and ask, "Does this sound like something your son/daughter would say?".

Edited by Brackynews

@video_game_king: The only result I desire from all this Xbawkery is Adam Boyes appearing on camera with a big shiny "Net Yaroze 4" lapel button. :D

Posted by l4wd0g

Boy Microsoft really needs to get their act together when it comes to misinformation about the XBONE. It seems like they STILL haven't learned from their confusing DRM messaging that its really important to make sure anyone speaking in an official capacity for your company should either be informed about what they are talking about or should just keep their mouths shut.

I blame the press. They take whatever "click bait" headline they can and run with it. This is a problem not just for the gaming media, but a larger problem for all press. Not having all of the facts together and running a story is how you lose trust. Remember after the tragic Sandy Hook shooting and the press misidentified Ryan Lanza and Adam Lanza? It's like Patrick said, "That should sound some alarm bells, at least enough to send a simple email to Microsoft for press not liveblogging an event in real-time."

The other problem is that we just click to comment on headline and not read the story. But that's another problem that's exasperated by the "click bait' headlines.

Gawker on the NPR prank

Posted by Lurkero

I think it is news that Microsoft hasn't made substantial progress on something they said would happen. It means that Xbox One won't be as friendly to indies and hobbyists as they'd hoped. If something is not even close to being ready then I don't want to hear about it.

Edited by RuthLoose

@patrickklepek 2015 couldn't get here sooner. I'm ready to talk about games again.

Posted by Dberg

Slow news day?

Posted by Curufinwe

Sony are going to do it, too.

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