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 Mom 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; as these consoles were ultimately intended to be used on an almost personal basis, soldiers would surely 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 couldn't you just make more? After all, a major contract is guaranteed money up-front. Unless, of course, Microsoft was worried about making a loss...(or, to be fair, was simply unable to manufacture more around 2006-07)
- The final issue would, I believe, 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!).