Wired recently posted a fascinating look at the way the U.S. military uses computer simulations to train soldiers, specifically, why they run simulations on PCs and not on Xbox 360s. Consoles seem like the perfect fit for the military: Young recruits are familiar with them, they're finally powerful enough to handle complicated simulations, and they're inexpensive. But the army, apparently, uses PCs to train recruits.
According to Wired's source, Roger Smith, chief technology officer for PEO STRI, the Army command responsible for purchasing training equipment,the military is not training on 360s because Microsoft won't sell them to it. Here's why:
- Microsoft was afraid that the military would buy up lots of Xbox 360s, but would buy only one game for each of them, so MS wouldn’t make much money off of the games.
- A big military purchase could create a shortage of Xbox 360s.
- If the Xbox became an Army training device, it could taint its reputation. According to Smith, Microsoft was concerned that the Xbox 360 would be seen as having the flavor of a weapon. "Do we want Mom and Dad knowing that their kid is buying the same game console as the military trains the SEALs and Rangers on?”
Microsoft says the Army can (and has) team up with developers to create simulations -- America's Army, for example -- but leaves the question of whether Microsoft would sell the military large supplies of 360s unanswered.
According to Smith, it may be a moot point anyway. The Army is less interested in the 360 than it was in the past. “Our initial enthusiasm when Xbox and XNA were new products has cooled. At this time we have no active or anticipated projects or R&D that are looking at using either of those products for military simulations. I would be happy to reopen these discussions if Microsoft is interested in selling these products to our community."