Microsoft announced the Xbox One game console in May, and will offer more details on its games for the console in a big E3 2013 press conference in LA on June 10th. However, there was a time that Microsoft was planning to hold a much bigger gaming themed event, but those plans later got scuttled.
Alex St. John, one of the creators of the DirectX platform for Microsoft, posted up the details on the cancelled DirectX gaming event, Judgement Day II, on his personal blog this weekend. St. John later left Microsoft and helped to found the game developer and publisher WildTangent, among other businesses.
However, back when he worked at Microsoft, St. John was the evangelist for DirectX at the company. Part of that job was to organize marketing events, such as the original Judgement Day, a gaming event for developers and the press that was held in 1995 in Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond that had a haunted house theme.
For Judgement Day II, St. John wanted to make it a consumer event, to help launch a new wave of PC DirectX games using Windows 95. The plan was for Microsoft to rent out hundreds of movie theaters across the US on Halloween night of 1996 so people could watch the actual launch event that was being held at the Alameda Military base in California. He added:
One of the giant hangers on the base would contain a giant circus tent designed by HR Geiger (sic) (famous creator of the Aliens in Alien and Species) to resemble the interior of a giant organic looking alien space ship. (Imagine the interior of a giant dripping human rib cage and you wouldn’t be too far from grasping the gooey alien nature of Geiger’s design for the venue) The actors who played Sculley (sic) and Moulder (sic) in the X-Files were hired to introduce the event.
There was even a plan for Microsoft chairman Bill Gates to film a segment that would be made to look like it was a live broadcast, where Gates peeled off his human face to reveal he was actually an alien. St. John says that Gates spent some time getting his head put in a plaster cast mold in preparation for the event.
Despite six months of planning and a $1.2 million budget from Microsoft, with another $1.1 million coming from sponsors like Dell and IBM, Judgement Day II was cancelled a couple of weeks before it was scheduled to happen. St. John claims that a new boss at Microsoft decided the event was going well over budget. He also claims that the shut down of Judgement Day II actually cost Microsoft $4.3 million in the end.
St. John apparently doesn't care for Microsoft's plans for the Xbox One console but does offers the humble suggestion that the alien spaceship made for Judgement Day II could be used as part of its E3 2013 festivities. He adds, "Perhaps if Microsoft dug up that alien ship for E3 this year and ignored some boring corporate event planners, they might be able to recover some credibility with gamers with a genuinely cool launch event. Something tells me that they’re going to spend more than 4.3M on it."
Source: Alex Sr. John's blog | Image via Alex St. John