Report: US Army Tried To Buy 360s For Training, Was Turned Down

Back in 2006, the US Army approached Microsoft with a lucrative contract offer: supply a ton of Xbox 360 consoles to the Army for the purposes of training soldiers. Microsoft's answer? No, thank you.

Roger Smith, the man responsible for buying the Army's training gear, says that four years ago - despite the promise of both positive exposure and cash money - Microsoft "refused to sell him the consoles". Smith says the surprising decision was made for three reasons:

- Microsoft was afraid that the military would buy up lots of Xbox 360s, but would buy only one game for each of them, so MS wouldn't make much money off of the games.

- A big military purchase could create a shortage of Xbox 360s.

- If the Xbox became an Army training device, it could taint its reputation. Microsoft was concerned that "do we want the Xbox 360 to be seen as having the flavor of a weapon? Do we want mum and Dad knowing that their kid is buying the same game console as the military trains the SEALs and Rangers on?"

Three very stupid reasons.

- One game at launch doesn't mean one game forever; soldiers would have bought more titles as time went on, just like everyone else.

- This would have been a major contract with a government agency; if it creates supply problems, then you make more consoles.

- The final issue would be a selling point. It's already been widely publicised that the Army uses 360 controllers with robots and Predator drones, so how this would be any worse eludes me.

Sounds to me like some mid-level PR rep made a bad call in the heat of the moment at a trade show, and that the Army's continued use of expensive PCs in place of 360s cost Microsoft a lot of money (not to mention potential Modern Warfare 2 marketing opportunities).

Why the Army Doesn't Train on Xboxes [Wired]


Comments

    what were they going to train them in? Smack Talking on live?

    I don't think that the "if they buy consoles soldiers would buy more games" is valid without knowing the purpose of the consoles. What I mean is, yes they are for training but if they are purely for training and the army doesn't also want soldiers to "trained" in combat to the stylings of 50cent then they wouldn't be allowed to play other games on them. This means that if they supplied a ton of consoles the attach rate number would drop and that's something MS love boasting about.

    Yes it's a major contract but back in 2006 when the console just launched MS were losing money per unit so just selling consoles would have been bad for profit margins.

    Also, this was dated back in 2006. Correct em if I'm wrong but the robot control stuff didn't come out until the last year or so....right?

    pfft, the US army would have been ground to a Holt after six months when they start with the red ring of death??

    Meh... as if Micro$oft needed any more money :p

    "The final issue would be a selling point."

    Seriously? I can garauntee that every anti-gaming advocate would thank their lucky stars the day that the military acknowledged that they are using the same retail console kids are playing on for training soldiers.

    Also, it's Microsoft, like they need the money.

    Sorry lol I just had a vision of a bunch of tanks stopping in the middle of the desert with giant RROD's on them...

    It is totally fair for MS to not supply the army with Xbox 360's

    If its for training purposes then its most likely that they will only buy one game to train with and no others.. maybe if the Xbox's were used leisurely by the soldies then that would be a different story (but the article doesn't state that).

    But not even that, its perfectly fair for a company to not want to support the Army especially when a gaming device is being used to actually train people how to kill other people.
    Isnt the whole theory behind the R18+ battle as well as the whole GTA does not turn people into murderes based on the fact that video games are just video games? But if the Army actually used a video game like Modern warfare 2 to train Soldiers into killing machines wouldnt that prove that video games mixed with some army training can turn anyone into killing machines?

    I love Kotaku and read it daily but I think this is probably the single worst article you have ever created.

    And the difference between using the controllers to control robots and the console to train soldiers into gun toting warriors is that you can use a remote for just about anything with enough tinkering but the fact that the console would be directly related to teaching people how to kill is a totally different story.

    Why am I not surprised to see that Luke wrote this? It would be much appreciated by myself (and if the US portal is anything to go by, a healthy portion of Kotaku's readers) if he could keep his diatribe separate from these articles, particularly when they're founded mostly on opinion and never facts. Microsoft was losing money on the 360 during that period at a loss of (if I recall, it should at least be in the realm of this) $125 per unit. Why would Microsoft agree to this sort of bulk sale when there is no guarrantee of how many titles the Army would purchase over the lifetime of the console in order to offset this? Pursuing it would have cost Microsoft a lot (you'll just have to pretend that I italicized that) of money anyway.

    Also, using a 360 gamepad with Predator drones is a LOT different than using the platform for TRAINING KILLERS. Luke really should know better than to make such a silly comparison. TRAINING OUR CHILDREN TO BE KILLERS, Fox News would have a field day. Terrible backlash for Microsoft.

    Nevermind the fact that there weren't many games for the US Army to use during 2006 anyway. What would they play? Dead Rising, Madden NFL 07... Kameo? Of course, this post is making the assumption shared by the Kotaku and Wired articles that the console was intended to be used for training and not recreation regarding this point.

      "Also, using a 360 gamepad with Predator drones is a LOT different than using the platform for TRAINING KILLERS"..

      Really? And what is it that you think Predator drones do, exactly? Sell cookies door to door? You should ask villagers in Pakistan and Afghanistan whether they appreciate the difference between training to be killers and actual experiencing death from above.

    Training? A pretty lame excuse for teh soldiers to play gaems if you ask me.

    Eh or get over it. MS are still rolling in cash and the 360 is still doing well (minus Japan).

    Either way, it was a good answer. Maybe Luke should go back to his beloved PS3.

    In 2006, MS was selling 360 consoles at a substantial loss (hardware costs, RROD replacement, etc.)

    Selling a large quantity of consoles with only single (or even two or three) titles bundled to a client who has a minimal chance of making future software purchases would have been a straight-up stupid marketing decision.

    Wow, this is the kind of half baked journalism I would expect to find nestled away in a shabby tabloid.

    Microsoft's reasons are valid, and even if they were not it was their call to make.

    Go grab a cold one and go back to quality, objective journalism please.

    the army would have made a special version of Americas Army for the Xbox360.. and used it in bases for chilling out/training..

    and then also released the game publicly

    a way to atract people ot the armed forces..

    its pretty obviouse why microsoft said no.. it would have been bad for xbox360s image..

    The army in my day, wouldnt have given MS any choice

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