It's not unusual for executive-level employees to be disconnected with their customer base. After all, it's hard to empathize with group of people who have never tasted Beluga Caviar. However, you'd think that people whose job requires them to understand the concerns of their customers would know better. Apparently this is not the case with Adam Orth.
Orth is the creative director at Microsoft Studios, which means that his job includes user experience design. But, in a series of strangely apathetic Tweets, Orth proved that he has no idea what gamers actually care about.
"Sorry, I don't get the drama over having an ‘always on’ console. #DealWithIt#," Orth Tweeted. "Every device now is 'always-on.' That's the world we live in."
The weird part about all of this is that Aaron Greenberg, the Chief of Staff for Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft, is claiming that he doesn't know who Adam Orth is. Lynn Dawson, a Twitter user who likes to tattle on Microsoft employees, sent a message to Greenberg complaining about Orth's remarks and encouraging Microsoft to take this issue seriously. Greenberg responded by saying "Very sorry if you were offended, I don't actually know who he is."
A quick check of Orth's LinkedIn account reveals an interesting, albeit somewhat idiosyncratic, work history. In 1995, Orth was apparently signed to a multi-album record contract with Interscope Records. No details about the project are given, but it looks like Orth was the bass player in a Rivers Cuomo (of Weezer fame) side project called Homie. Orth's LinkedIn account claims that he "Wrote, recorded and produced 1 full-length record for Interscope. Performed nationally to support," but Homie only released one track and never toured. Now, there’s a good chance that Orth is talking about Shufflepuck, a band that signed to Interscope in 1996 but never officially released their debut album. Orth was the frontman.
After his stint at Interscope, Orth wore a pretty diverse series of hats in the video game industry. He was a Creative Director at LucasArts (R.I.P., LucasArts.), a designer at Sony, Game Designer at PopCap, and he recently landed the Creative Director position at Microsoft.
Back in 2007, when Orth worked as a game designer at Sony, Cheat Code Central actually dug up a conversation where he talked to David Jaffe about his hatred for Halo. He likes to swear.
There's no real reason for me to doubt the believability of Orth's work history. Even the fact that Aaron Greenberg doesn't know Orth's name doesn’t really surprise me. Microsoft is a gigantic company. Though, I wouldn’t be surprised if people started getting a little suspicious.
However, I am surprised, given Orth's history, that's he's so cavalierly disconnected from his customer's concerns. Considering how much controversy has surrounded Diablo III and SimCity, you'd think that someone who was so heavily involved in the marketing side of the industry would have the foresight to avoid insulting a large chunk of the gaming community. But he doubled down when confronted on his comment and superciliously dismissed replies. When one user countered by saying "Try living in Janesville, WI or Blacksburg, VA," Orth responded with "Why on earth would I live there?"
Beluga Caviar, indeed.
Of course, Adam Orth doesn't understand people's concerns. He's employed by a company that could potentially make boatloads of money if these always-on connections start to become effective against piracy. He'll never have to worry about licensing issues, or technical problems.
He probably also lives in a castle.
Date: April 5, 2013