Sunday, June 10, 2007

Zero Hour - Mojave Desert - 11/20,21,22


Zero Hour, the culmination of multiple viral marketing (guerilla marketing) campaigns put on by Zed, AKA the Xbox team within Microsoft. Why was it done in the middle of the Mojave desert? To attract only the hardest core, most serious gamer enthusiasts... early adopters... trend leaders. Only 3,000 members of the general public were admitted into Zero Hour with over 64,000 applicants worldwide. While I was there I met people from California, Missippi, Chicago... all the way to Poland and Japan including MS execs all the way from Australia and the UK.

Video of XBOX 360 Zero Hour in the Mojave Desert, Xbox launch event

J Allard, Corporate Vice President and Chief XNA Architect was there, I met him. Clinton Fowler, J's mountain biking friend who also works on the Xbox team was there as well :) and I got the chance to ask him EVERY Xbox/MS question I could think of. Not to mention Peter Moore, Cliff Blezinsky and many others. All of these guys work hard, you can just tell by talking with them. Clinton was planning to stay up for the entire 29hr stretch of Zero Hour (which doesn't include the 2.5hr trip it takes to get to or from LAX to Palmdale. It was amazing to speak with such dedicated and influential people. Almost every person at the event was important to Microsoft, hardly any of them were "hired hands".

My interactions with Clinton, and others, began when they helped me with an Xbox 360 service featured at the event. Clinton helped me register and convert my Xbox Live account inside of this crazy white bubble tent (you can see the tent in the picture on the left). I spoke with another exec named Richard Irving out at the parking lot where he was handing out wristbands. I talked with all of these guys so much during the event that I ended up playing the Xbox 360 for less than an hour over the course of the entire 29hr event!


Artist rendition of the Xbox 360 Zero Hour event November 20th 21st and 22nd 2005

I have to give these guys props, they pulled this event off with world class. It was surreal to see a rendering of how the event "would look" online when I found out I was going, and then to actually see it in real life and have it match exactly. It was also envigorating to see a giant green light in the desert on the night of the 20th when we were first arriving, it was like "that's it, that's amazing!" The fact that I was able to hook up with a friend who lives in Chicago at the LAX and then trust eachother enough to drive down to Palmdale together and split a hotel is a testimate to the community Microsoft has fostered. I have beta tested over ten top PC, PS2, and Xbox titles so I know what's out there in terms of community, and what kinds of promotions are being done in this industry. Hats off to all of the hardworking individuals who made this a possibility, this post is about your comittment and passion for the community. Special thanks to Marilyn Ishak, Ceasar, Ryan from Gamespot, Arne Meyer from Edelman, and Simon Jones from digitaloutlook.

For more on Zero Hour check out stories from GameSpot, IGN, G4 here & here, and a fan weblog called lowdown411

posted by Court @ 4:15 PM |

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