Ex-Microsoft director Adam Orth discusses Xbox One #dealwithit controversy

"I exercised incredibly poor judgment."

Seven months after he spoke out online over the public response to Xbox One's "always online" policy, Adam Orth, then a creative director at Microsoft, has finally adressed the storm of internet rage that followed.

Orth gained instant notoriety after defending Microsoft's old Xbox One online policies via Twitter, at a time when the company was still advocating the device as requiring a 24-hour online check-in.

Orth was quickly turned into a online meme.

Less than a week later he had resigned his position and left the company.

"Sorry, I don't get the drama around having an 'always on' console," Orth had written. "Every device now is 'always on.' That's the world we live in. #dealwithit

"Sorry for expressing my personal opinion about what I want from the electronic devices that I pay for on Twitter," Orth later replied, after the internet backlash had begun. "Jesus."

Orth spoke publicly about the matter for the first time last night during a speech at GDC Next, attended by Polygon. He now knew that expressing the opinion publicly had been a mistake, he admitted, although he stood by his right to speak freely over the subject.

"I exercised incredibly poor judgment expressing my personal opinion in a public forum about a volatile and divisive topic in the gaming community," he explained. "I made it even worse by continuing that conversation sarcastically with a close friend. While the tone was natural and normal for us, the rest of the world heard and read something very different. It's easy now for me to see the anger, outrage and how controversial it was based on my professional position and the tone in which I delivered my opinion.

"While I stand behind that opinion as well as the right to have and express it, how I said it and how I conducted myself was wrong. This was a conversation I should have had with my colleagues over a beer rather than on Twitter. I absolutely deserved any and all rational criticism and discussion based on my opinion. Unfortunately, that's not what happened."

Orth also went into detail about the impact his opinions had on him - including the repercussions for his family, who also faced harassment over the issue. Orth was personally subjected to abusive emails and phone calls as well as a constant stream of threatening messages via social media.

"Were any of these threats credible? Unlikely, but I wasn't going to put myself and my family at risk," he concluded. "Ultimately we had to leave town to feel safe. We had to completely rebuild our life and fortify our digital life as well as all of our financial accounts in order to protect ourselves and our assets."

Since the drama, Orth has moved to Santa Monica and founded a new games development company which is working on its first game. The event changed him "forever", he said, but he had emerged "stronger".

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Tom Phillips

Tom Phillips

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Tom is Eurogamer's news editor. He writes lots of news, some of the puns and makes sure we put the accent on Pokémon.


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