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Microsoft Refused to Sell Xbox 360s to Military

It's no secret that the U.S. military uses game-like simulations in its training, which are currently being ran on PCs. What's interesting is that the U.S. Army approached Microsoft about using the Xbox 360 along with the XNA development platform but Redmond company declined.

Roger Smith, Chief Technology Officer, U.S. Army Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation, explained why in an interview with TSJOnline.

"We wanted to get on to the Microsoft Xbox because it only costs $300, when a PC may cost $1,000. They did not want to work with the military," Smith said, as he gave the three reasons from Microsoft why it wouldn't sell the Xbox 360 to the U.S. Army. "Number one, when they sell an Xbox 360, they lose money. It costs more to make an Xbox 360 than to sell it in the store. The only way they make that revenue up is by kids going out and buying an average of 17 of those games a year. Their concern was that the military would develop a game for the Xbox 360 and buy thousands of the boxes and buy exactly one game for each of them."

Of course, that discussion was from 2006, when the manufacturing costs of the Xbox 360 were considerably higher than they are today.

"Their second concern was that the military could cause a shortage of Xbox 360s," Smith added.

He continued, "The third reason was around the question of, '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?'"

Being a platform holder, Microsoft must approve every piece of software that will run on the Xbox 360 – something the military wouldn't be able to get past.

"They said we will not give the military a license to burn a game that runs on the Xbox 360. So we’re not pursuing it at all because they won’t," Smith said.

Wired looked for a response from Microsoft and received a comment from its outside PR agency Edelman, saying that the Army "has multiple avenues to pursue building simulations. They can team up with a professional Xbox 360 publisher and development studio that have the expertise to assist them with development of a complex simulation."

The Microsoft response continued, "In fact, the Army has successfully done this in the past by working with publishers such as Ubisoft (’America’s Army’) and THQ (’Full Spectrum Warrior’). Or, if the Army prefers to build a simulation without engaging game development professionals, Microsoft has also enabled independent developers to create games for the Xbox 360 using the XNA Game Studio development tools, and deploy and play them on retail Xbox 360 consoles using an XNA Premium Creator’s Club membership."

This is just another example of the military looking to video game technology for its own purposes. The USAF employs a fleet of PlayStation 3 for their computation powers.