As the U.S. military turns more and more to PC-based military simulations as a less expensive solution to real-world exercises, an article on Wired examines whether game consoles might eventually replace PCs as the training platform of choice.
While they can lack horsepower when compared to their PC brethren, consoles are attractive to Army officials for one reason—price. Consoles can cost a couple of hundred dollars, while a high-end PC can run into the thousands.
It seems, though, that Microsoft themselves may have created a roadblock to the more widespread use of Xbox consoles within the military. The Wired article features feedback from the Chief Technology Officer of U.S. Army Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training & Instrumentation, who claims that Microsoft refused to sell him consoles in 2006.
Roger Smith said the Xbox-maker gave him three reasons for the refusal: Microsoft feared a low attach rate for the consoles sold to the military, the military could have drained supplies of the console and Microsoft did not necessarily want their console associated with the Army, as this could “taint its reputation.”
A Microsoft spokesperson answered that the military was free to team up with an existing developer (as was done in the case of THQ’s Full Spectrum Warrior) or they could leverage XNA Game Studio development tools and create their own games.
It turns out that Smith may not even be interested in using the Xbox anymore, as he stated, “Our initial enthusiasm when Xbox and XNA were new products has cooled.” So it appears the PC will remain the training base of choice for at least the near future, leveraging a more open architecture and an ability for greater performance.