Mixed martial arts is a sport with an increasingly wide audience, and Microsoft's move to show UFC events on the Xbox 360 through a special app sounded brilliant at last year's E3. The app not only lets you purchase and watch pay-per-view events in standard or high definition, but you can also pick the winners of each fight, compare your picks with friends, and watch video of the weigh-in. Microsoft wanted to make last week's UFC 141 fight a big event, and the company gave away tens of thousands of free codes to watch it. As a member of the press, I got access to the fight to write a story about how well, or poorly, the app worked.
I told my buddies to cancel their plans at the sports bar we usually visit, my wife made large amounts of food, and I invited friends over to watch the fight and enjoy the interactive features Microsoft was offering. Well, that was the plan. The reality was that Microsoft learned the hard way what happens when a show that's treated as an event is used to hype a service. A service that was in no way ready.