Xbox & Fall Out Boy:- An Emo Fall Out at Xbox Sounds
Or how to make friends but not sell Lips to people…
©2009 Aaron Bertinetti:- NE (News Editor)
OXCGN had the pleasure last weekend of attending yet another Microsoft event tangentally related to games. Last time it was razor blades, video games, cheerleaders and Yager bombs. This time it was Fall Out Boy, video games, the Navy and… sunburn! A week later I still have the sunburn but sadly no hangover…
Unfortunately this was a 15+ event and unlike the OFLC, Microsoft doesn’t seem to believe in providing adult products to minors.
For those unfamiliar with Xbox Sounds in a nutshell it’s a series of exclusive concerts put together by Microsoft Australia, in wholly unique locales, to promote the Xbox 360 as the cool console for the music lover who just might pick up Guitar Hero: World Tour or Lips.
Last time it was the Pussycat Dolls at the Sydney Opera House, whose burlesque themed performance is something I still regret missing. This time it was Fall Out Boy, supported by INNERPARTYSYSTEM and Aussie rockers Slow Down Honey, making the Royal Australian Navy’s heavy landing craft HMAS Tobruk rock, and all whilst not at sea!
For a rock concert it was an early start at a yawn inducing 11am.
But somehow after a rockstar-worthy night before I dragged myself out of the sack and eventually met Grant (XboxOz himself) at the best named suburb in the history of man, Woolloomooloo, for a serving of the best meat pies in Sydney at Harry’s Cafe de Wheels.
A Tiger digested (that’d be a meat pie topped with peas, mash and gravy), we strolled up to security for our media passes and to sign our lives away on an all encompassing waiver in the case of our imminent death or injury on the Garden Island navy base. That done I slipped straight through (minus some chewing gum) whilst Grant was delayed for what may have been an assortment of reasons but probably came down to the fact that he carries a dealer-blushing amount of painkillers for chronic back pain and happens to look like somebody’s dad.
A short bus ride later, accompanied with the distinct impression that the gaming press was a minority (represented only by OXCGN) amongst music and mainstream media, we arrived at the tip of Garden Island.
Staring at the imposing HMAS Tobruk: a ship that can carry 3 helicopters, 18 Leopard/Abrams tanks, 40 Armoured Personnel Carriers, 500 of the Navy’s finest and beach itself amphibiously; you had to hand it to Microsoft for getting this thing to float!
Recently returned from tours in East Timor, the Solomons and military exercises with our US comrades in Hawaii, it was clear the Navy were going to enjoy this as much as the assortment of prize winners who were lucky enough to score a ticket.
On the landing deck of the HMAS Tobruk, frying along with 500 other eggs in the Sydney sun, the thought crossed my mind to cool off in Sydney Harbour, until I recalled a shark attack on a Navy diver right next to the Tobruk only days earlier. With that idea scrapped we went on the prowl and after grabbing some tasty Navy burgers for lunch, we managed to find some reprieve in a poorly conceived promotional tent filled with Lips, Guitar Hero and XBLA.
This is the part where I get all emo with Microsoft…
But in what increasingly appears to be a Microsoft problem at large, they don’t seem to know how to promote anything other than first person shooters and franchise blockbusters.
It seems, to me at least, an endemic problem. Games outside of those traditional genres continually underwhelm in terms of sales, and whilst I’m sure some would argue that that’s simply a result of less popular genres or franchises, I’m more inclined to argue Microsoft doesn’t know how to market them effectively.
It’s the bane of many cluey gamers as to why relatively excellent titles that broaden the console’s offerings such as Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts (9.5/10), Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise (9.5/10) and Scene It? Box Office Smash aren’t promoted more substantially. Sure their markets aren’t as big as the core FPS crowd, but you don’t broaden your audience without some investment in broadening your product’s appeal in the first place.
Yet despite the effort and expense of an event partly designed to promote it, it seems that the opportunity for putting Lips in people’s hands has been somewhat wasted.
It’s not quite SingStar yet but OXCGN really enjoyed it.
More importantly, however, Lips does have significant points of difference that make it mightily attractive to the casual audience. Wireless mics, a more pure karaoke experience, a jukebox mode, party modes that utilise other peripherals and, perhaps the most overlooked feature in the ability for gamers to plug in their iPods and sing songs of their own desire.
So asking why such a tent was so hard to find, so poorly fitted out and lacking in any promotional pizzazz or presence to get people excited and playing, is perhaps an exercise in stating the obvious. It’s nonetheless a disappointing note on an otherwise successful event that promoted the console if not the games it was apparently designed to promote along with it.
But I digress, the show must go on…
Thankfully the main event was an enjoyable affair. After arriving by jet boat, Fall Out Boy got down to business singing sincerely about “America’s Suitehearts” and how to “detox just to retox”. Considering the band had allegedly been up to 7AM and were now playing at an unnatural hour in 32 degree heat (90 farenheit), it was an impressive feat.
Between the allusions of a late night with red wine in a hot tub, having a kid with Jessica “these boots are made for walking” Simpson and what happens when you put a “Dick and a Bush in the Whitehouse”, it was a sound education for the younger members of the crowd. The boys from Fall Out Boy, and in particular Mr. Simpson, Peter Wentz, were talkative throughout a one hour set declaring to the smiles of Microsoft’s PR “we play Xbox games too, so it works out well”.
In fact, Wentz seemed generally enthused for a rockstar who’d only got 4hrs sleep and looked like he needed 8hrs more…
He couldn’t help but marvel at the “gnarly setting” and the fulfilment of a boyhood dream involving GI Joe and an aircraft carrier (don’t ask), which he felt perhaps rightly, the US military would never be crazy enough to entertain. He also playfully dissed the little island across the sea, sometimes know as Middle Earth, so it made it even harder for the strongly Aussie audience not to like him.
If emo rock wasn’t your thing, and strangely there were a lot more pirates than emos, there was an uninterrupted view of the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge to illustrate just why Sydney is the prettiest city on Earth. Or at the very least to lend weight to the view (sorry) that the best spots in Sydney are almost invariably owned by the military or the church.
It was heartening to see the Navy enjoying themselves so much, and even better to hear that it didn’t cost them a thing thanks to Microsoft’s generosity.
The Navy were so well organised, well dressed and enthusiastically friendly that it was easy to excuse their casting call good looks and a sly attempt to recruit the younger guests with sunscreen and baseball caps.
But then again if every day in the Navy was like that I’d want to join to!
We’d also like to give a big shout out to the guys at Pulse and Kumar at Microsoft for another enjoyable event. We just wish Microsoft would put the same effort into promoting maligned but generally excellent range of casually focused games.
On that note, I’m off to play some more Nuts & Bolts…
Many thanks to the great Guys-N- Gals at Pulse for making sure we were looked after and ensuring OXCGN was there representing the gaming fraternity.
©2009 Aaron Bertinetti:- NE (News Editor)