Former Microsoft programmer Allen Murray took credit this week for pushing banner ads on the Xbox 360's dashboard, including these that he says he helped design.
The Xbox 360 may have blazed a trail in connecting console players via online gaming, but with that service came an unpopular side effect: banner ads, designed to be downloaded and updated on a regular basis by all of those online players. As the 360 tiptoes toward its tenth anniversary, Allen Murray, a former Xbox programmer, used his own 10-year mark in the games industry to get something off his chest. Banner ads are his fault, he said, and they came after he argued with coworkers who actually didn't want them on Xbox 360.
In a Gamasutra post on Monday, Murray described his start with Microsoft in 2004 as a Web services layer programmer, where he became intimately acquainted with the Xbox Live Arcade initiative—and realized how hard its games were to find for players unaware of a console-specific game-download shop. "It was several clicks down in the UI, hidden from the player," Murray complained, so he asked for a meeting with an unnamed boss to discuss adding promotional content to the in-development dashboard.
According to Murray, he was met with immediate resistance—"Banner ads? Like on websites?"—and was told that "gamers would hate ads." Murray used the post to recall why his sales pitch failed at first: "My choice of language, using terms like ‘advertising’ and 'banner ads,’ conveyed a tone of corporate soullessness. This was games! We were supposed to be cool and 'fuck the man' and all that shit."