The launch day for Microsoft’s XBox in Europe is coming nearer and nearer and one can see Mickey’s money being pumped out of the window like a waterfall.
XBox Commercials are occupying alot of TV time, 10 XBox console’s are going to be sold on eBay starting at the ludicrous price of 1 euro, press people could buy and XBox with a 30% discount (unlike in several other countries where the press got them for free) and the XBox Xtreme Tour was meant to give gamers the possibility to play already with the machine and even win one.
To win an XBox, gamers had to qualify themselves on the XBox Xtreme Tour and that would give them a free ticket for the XBox Xtreme Night where next to some prices like a free XBox also a Smart Cabrio car would be given away.
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The XBox Xtreme Night was intended to be a big party and could well be seen as a pre-launch event for Microsoft’s console.
Being members of the press, the Fragland crew of course was invited as VIP’s and therefor, on March 2nd, we headed to the Brussels Cart Expo to see what Microsoft had in mind for us.
At 8 PM we arrived at the door of the VIP area and saw that already alot of people were waiting to be able to enter. Apparantly the doors weren’t open yet and when we saw 2 people coming through with a microwave oven we had a good idea that it could still take quite a while before we would be able to enjoy the night.
After one hour of waiting in the freezing cold people were allowed to enter, 4 at a time. Seeing that there were over 100 people waiting, I don’t think this was very positive and showed clearly of bad organisation.
Once we were inside and had taken some time to warm up our frozen bones we took a look around and saw that the VIP room wasn’t really big enough to hold the amount of people that were supposed to be VIP’s…
Time for a drink was my first thought so we went to the bar and wanted to order some soda as a good journalist would do (*cough*)
Much to our surprise we weren’t allowed to drink anything that didn’t have alcohol ! If we wanted to drink Coca Cola or anything else than Campari, Champaign or some unknown energy drink, we would have to wait 2 hours !
I didn’t really understand why we had to wait 2 hours to be able to drink something normal, but I quickly knew when the hours were over and we had to pay for drinks… What a VIP room !
There was also food available, but with over 100 VIP’s (I was amazed by the amount of 14-year old “journalists” that were present) you can imagine that there was a big line waiting on the food-part of the room. Not really interested in spending our time waiting on some half-warm food, we went out of the room to see what else there was to see.
A big discobar and sound installation were put in front of the VIP room, along with a waterfall and several big screens which ran a promo movie for the XBox. Lasers were projecting the logo onto the waterfall and except for that there was hardly any light present. It was going to be dark just like the color of the XBox.
150 XBox consoles were spread over the floor with most of the launch titles and several upcoming 3rd party games ready to be played.
However, since the “normal” people were in already hours before any of the “VIP’s”, none of the consoles were free to be played on with long waiting lines of people watching other kids play.
The few consoles that were put in the VIP room itself weren’t really enough to cope with the interest either…
While looking around we saw a booth where several computer were connected to the internet and several pathetic kids seemed unable to leave their precious internet connection alone and didn’t do anything but surf the web.
Yea, it was a party alright !
To emphasize that there was a techno party going on with several international DJ’s, the smoking machines started pumping out smog making it unable for people in the nearby surroundings to see anything before their eyes. The sound volume changing from time to time without any apparant reason other than incompetence and a room that was totally inappropriate for a party due to the enormous amounts of resonance made even the biggest techno-lover want to run away. Time for the promised chill-out room.
Unfortunately, Microsoft doesn’t really seem to know how a techno-party is built up since the “Chill-Out room” was right in front of the discobar ! I didn’t see how people could chill-out except if one sees chilling out as laying on a few bags instead of standing…
Back to the part of the room where the 3rd party developers were showing their stuff, and just in time to see two guys entering with huge blocks of ice. A short talk with one of them revealed that the ice was meant to make an XBox sculpture out of it. Personally I find that to be a nice feature, but having it stand in the middle of a huge room is pretty useless, especially if that room is not even half-filled with people.
All in all, I found the XBox Xtreme Night to be a good initiative which developers should do more over here but in this case there were too many flaws made.
The location of the party was too big for the amount of people while the VIP room was defenitely too small in comparison with the amount of supposed VIP’s.
Microsoft might think that a party is a party when a few good DJ’s play hard music but they forget that there needs to be an atmosphere created and you don’t do that by putting a few XBox consoles in the middle of the dance floor, nor by having a room that can have 10 times the amount of people that actually attended, and a huge smoke machine doesn’t create atmosphere either.
For being an XBox show, 150 XBox machines may seem to be alot but not if you’ve got only 1 machine with f.i. DoA3 while there are 10 machines with Project Gotham Racing and Halo.
We arrived at 8 PM and left at 11:30 PM and we were glad to leave because although the idea was good, the organisation was so bad that we couldn’t stand to stay another minute.
I wish Microsoft hadn’t wasted so much money on this Xtreme Night but instead they could have used it better to make the launch itself 100 times better.
If you want to have an idea on the event, download this .avi movie which we created at the event and which also has some gameplay featured in it.