Former Microsoft employee talks publicly about online hate after Twitter comments

In April, Adam Orth was a man working pretty quietly at Microsoft Studios as a creative director and was about to leave the company thanks to a new job offer. That was before he went on his Twitter account and posted the following message: "Sorry, I don't get the drama around having an 'always on' console. Every device we have is 'always on'. That's the world we live in. #dealwithit".

That simple message was enough to create what Orth now calls an "Internet firestorm" of hate against him personally from many game enthusiasts. This week, during the GDC Next conference in Los Angeles, Orth talked for the first time about his experiences after that message was posted. He said that he lost that job he was going to take and left Microsoft voluntarily four days after the message was posted.

Microsoft later said that Orth's Twitter posts were "inappropriate" and during his presentation Orth said, "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."

The effects of Orth's comments extended well beyond his departure from Microsoft. During his speech, he showed a number of messages directed toward him from Internet users that included personal threats as well as many racist and homophobic remarks. Orth says that many people in the game industry have now become "desensitized to this insane behavior." He urged other game developers who have to deal with abusive Internet comments to speak up rather than just accept it.

Orth says that the "always on" incident turned out to be a good thing for him, saying that it forced him to mature as a person. He is now happily working in Southern California at a new game development studio. Orth stated, "This event changed me positively and profoundly forever. With the help of friends, family and deep personal reflection, I came out the other side stronger."

Source: Polygon | Image via Polygon

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You mean people that put features in products that hurt and annoy customers get backlash? boo fecking hoo. If you don't want to get fire, don't screw your users over

"He urged other game developers who have to deal with abusive Internet comments to speak up rather than just accept it."

Man, he's totally right.
Poor Phil Fish

The main point to this story, I think and has always been, that when you speak on social networks and your identity as an employee of a company is known, your activity on said networks are pretty much intertwined with your employer.

What you do and say will be taken to reflect on them, thus you must take extra care regarding how you express your individual ideas. You must also, include disclaimers, and actively make a point to convey when you are discussing your thoughts verses the policies of your employer.

I'm glad he learned from his errors and came out better for it. I hope this was a lesson to other hot heads to be prudent when speaking about company affairs and even their own.

Like a lot of other times, MS has a great idea and totally ****s it up because they have poor communication skills.

If they explained the whole DRM a little bit better from the beginning, people might have actually come around.

I definitely don't hate him. He was successfully able to warn many people. Without him, the Xbox One would have suffered greatly. If it was released with the original intended DRM scheme, MS would not have had enough time to revise their plan and gain back some of the consumer trust that they had lost.

I think people are irrationally opposed to always-on XB1. After all, most people who will buy a game console have an always-on smartphone, all of them have microphones, and most have at least one camera. Many laptops and most tablets have cameras, and most don't have shutters. People have no problem with leaving their PVR on.

I think Microsoft should allow XB1 to operate without Kinect. I think the vast majority of people would plug them in anyhow, if it were bundled.

It can work without kinect, the problem is they only sell it with. For some, they can't afford the accessory right away, or just don't want to buy it because there are no compelling gameplay experiences for it in their mind. If there were more options, then it would fit more customers' preferences.

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

in my opinion i think he was trying to say, why are people dramatizing the fact that their(new gen) console needs to connect to the internet always when their phones, laptops, tablets and TVs(not all though) are always connected to the internet. Its not a new thing to be always connected...

My phone has offline functions that still work without an internet connection. My laptop has offline applications and single player games that work without an internet connection. My TV isnt connected and works fine.

People didnt want to spend $500 on a system that has to phone home just to perform non-online functions. They won, the Neowin sanctuary of Microsoft apologists lost.

Lord Method Man said,
My phone has offline functions that still work without an internet connection. My laptop has offline applications and single player games that work without an internet connection. My TV isnt connected and works fine.

People didnt want to spend $500 on a system that has to phone home just to perform non-online functions. They won, the Neowin sanctuary of Microsoft apologists lost.


Spot on. Neowin will continue to live in its own little bubble believing that it was the rage of a few Sony fanboys who caused Microsoft to abandon their "revolutionary" policies. It would be funny if it wasn't so tragic.

this guy will move on, and do good, meanwhile the basement dwelling keyboard warriors will continue to be worthless social rejects scum.

Hahaha THIS, so THIS^. I saw Tara Long from Rev3 post the same on her Twitter the other day. Way too many maladjusted people in the "gaming" community. It's a real shame, especially after those GAF fools were throwing a fit about Adam Sessler the other day too. It's totally pathetic!

vcfan said,
this guy will move on, and do good, meanwhile the basement dwelling keyboard warriors will continue to be worthless social rejects scum.

Too true. I just don't know who these people are who abuse people on Twitter.. it's an insane state of affairs.

I didn't know he is gay. Whoa, some people are way too creepy to be able to find out about that with such ease; especially if he was a pretty quite Microsoft Studios creative director.

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

in my opinion i think he was trying to say, why are people dramatizing the fact that their(new gen) console needs to connect to the internet always when their phones, laptops, tablets and TVs(not all though) are always connected to the internet. Its not a new thing to be always connected...

I didn't see anything wrong with the comments. Don't buy an Internet device if you don't want an Internet device. Would you buy a roku and then complain it had to connected to work?

i resent Orth for his poor judgement and even more poor style to do an outburst like a frustrated child...
...however i agree with him; the gamer community in 2013 showed how closed-minded and idiotic really is

they bashed the always on (24/1, to be exact) internet connection (yeah, the console with the flat screen and the sofa is a real mobile thing...) and with this stupid hate campaign eliminated almost every creative and new idea concerning the sales system and verification policy for the microsoft ecosystem - basically kicked market advancement in the teeth and sent it back to 2005

and why? because some a-hole thought if no internet connection for a day the console would be (mostly) useless and oh horribile dictu... well i live on the ass end of europe but even here in the famous Balkan we almost never had DAY-LONG internet connection failure (i remember 1 in the last 5 years); electric failures are much more numerous but never taking longer than a few hours

so shame on Orth because he publicly stated something 100% true

well.. Hopefully he has learned from this experience. The hashtag is really the only offensive part of his statement made.

power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. his intention was (Probably) meant as a defense to MS idea to have an always on internet connection. he didn't use tact with his comment

Thanks for the short version!!

There are times I wish articles weren't "beautified", "storyfied" with filler text around the actual useful content.

MDboyz said,
... they all hate 'always on'. But when their internet goes down for awhile, they all go crazy ...

Is this to suggest that gamers are ironic in the fact that they want always online internet but complain when they get offered the xbox always online too....
or
are you suggesting that they know their connections aren't always online and know the frustration that happens when their online services aren't available when their internet connection goes down and don't want the same thing happening to their game console?

Personally, I think the xbox one's online ability was great, but the execution of mandatory online was a flawed idea. Still worries me that they have that ability, and that they've simply flipped a switch to turn it off at their end. I'm left wondering when they'll turn it back on and what games are first to be mandatory online only or when Microsoft has enough digital only games that they can flip the switch again.

MDboyz said,
... they all hate 'always on'. But when their internet goes down for awhile, they all go crazy ...

It makes perfect sense why people would not want the requirement of internet connectivity to play games then, doesn't it?

Grats on the Poorly thought out comment of the year award.

-adrian- said,
Well - here you have the difference between freedom and not freedom. I want the freedom to decide for myself, thanks

BTW, you know the PS4 had a very similar form of DRM right? They kept it quiet. Once they saw the heat Microsoft took, they decided to remove it (via a day one patch) as well as unbundle the PS eye.

sagum said,

Is this to suggest that gamers are ironic in the fact that they want always online internet but complain when they get offered the xbox always online too....
or
are you suggesting that they know their connections aren't always online and know the frustration that happens when their online services aren't available when their internet connection goes down and don't want the same thing happening to their game console?

Personally, I think the xbox one's online ability was great, but the execution of mandatory online was a flawed idea. Still worries me that they have that ability, and that they've simply flipped a switch to turn it off at their end. I'm left wondering when they'll turn it back on and what games are first to be mandatory online only or when Microsoft has enough digital only games that they can flip the switch again.


It spot checked once per 24 hours. It needed that in order to provide digital sharing.

AWilliams87 said,

It spot checked once per 24 hours. It needed that in order to provide digital sharing.

OK, that's understandable, but you have to ask yourself why did they decide to spot check people who've not yet shared a digital game?
Surely it should only spot check if your console has authorised a digital game to be shared from it, or indeed shared a game from a family/friend member. Since games were a requirement to have them bound to your Xbox account, the ONLY way to share a digital game would be if your console and your account went online first to do it. Only then should the spot checks been enforced, and once games had been removed from sharing the spot checks should have been revoked.

Regardless it's a moot point anyway. Microsoft messed up something that could have been good and now Steam's taken charge and provided a rather simple and working solution to it.

MDboyz said,
... they all hate 'always on'. But when their internet goes down for awhile, they all go crazy ...

Do you realize why they hate "always on"? Precisely because it is possible for their connection to "go down".

sagum said,

OK, that's understandable, but you have to ask yourself why did they decide to spot check people who've not yet shared a digital game?
Surely it should only spot check if your console has authorised a digital game to be shared from it, or indeed shared a game from a family/friend member. Since games were a requirement to have them bound to your Xbox account, the ONLY way to share a digital game would be if your console and your account went online first to do it. Only then should the spot checks been enforced, and once games had been removed from sharing the spot checks should have been revoked.

Regardless it's a moot point anyway. Microsoft messed up something that could have been good and now Steam's taken charge and provided a rather simple and working solution to it.


If I give you a disc to install on your Xbox, then you go offline, how would they know I shared that disc with you? We can just go around installing disc and remain offline. It may seem like they were being draconian, but they really had good intentions.

Edited by AWilliams87, Nov 7 2013, 9:18pm :

Ian William said,

Do you realize why they hate "always on"? Precisely because it is possible for their connection to "go down".


Most of your functionality are worthless offline. Titanfall, for example, only has a multiplayer (afaik). If your connection is down, that's a bigger issue than being able to play while down imo. But I suppose **** can happen.

AWilliams87 said,

If I give you a disc to install on your Xbox, then you go offline, how would they know I shared that disc with you? We go just go around installing disc, then remain offline. It may seem like they were being draconian, but they really had good intentions.


The idea was games you buy on disc had a code that you had to register with your xbox account, where they'd be bound to your account. The physical disc wasn't needed as they had to be installed to the harddisk, and your game was bound to your xbox account. The physical disc was simply a medium to deliver the game to people with slower internet connections. After you bound the game to your account, you could have simply thrown the thing away.
This is why resale of games was a huge issue for pre-owned games and retail stores.

There was never any notion of simply giving your disc to a friend to install, let alone doing an install and playing without the disc, hence Sony's how to share a game video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWSIFh8ICaA

Taking what you thought happened, and what was actually happening, Microsoft could have found a middle ground where users were giving the same option as we already have with the 360. You have a disc, you can use it to play offline. Offline guys would be happy. Then, you had the option to register your disc bound to your account with this being the only way you can play the game with the xbox online.

Instead, Microsoft shoehorned everyone into the same boat with hopes we'd all latch onto their ecosystem.

sagum said,


The idea was games you buy on disc had a code that you had to register with your xbox account, where they'd be bound to your account. The physical disc wasn't needed as they had to be installed to the harddisk, and your game was bound to your xbox account. The physical disc was simply a medium to deliver the game to people with slower internet connections. After you bound the game to your account, you could have simply thrown the thing away.
This is why resale of games was a huge issue for pre-owned games and retail stores.

There was never any notion of simply giving your disc to a friend to install, let alone doing an install and playing without the disc, hence Sony's how to share a game video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWSIFh8ICaA

Taking what you thought happened, and what was actually happening, Microsoft could have found a middle ground where users were giving the same option as we already have with the 360. You have a disc, you can use it to play offline. Offline guys would be happy. Then, you had the option to register your disc bound to your account with this being the only way you can play the game with the xbox online.

Instead, Microsoft shoehorned everyone into the same boat with hopes we'd all latch onto their ecosystem.


To play discless, you are right, it would be tied to your account. One of the points was to try to move away from disc altogether. Sony originally had a similar DRM on the PS4, like Microsoft, before discounting it.

Edited by AWilliams87, Nov 7 2013, 9:51pm :

AWilliams87 said,

Most of your functionality are worthless offline. Titanfall, for example, only has a multiplayer (afaik). If your connection is down, that's a bigger issue than being able to play while down imo. But I suppose **** can happen.

Depends on the game, I suppose.

I'm sorry but a Creative Director at a high-profile company like Microsoft should know better than to post such an inflammatory comment on Twitter. The hashtag was particularly obnoxious. I really don't have any sympathy for him.

No need to be sorry. Isn't that basically what Orth said, himself?

It was a moronic thing to do. He has learned that. Time to move on.

He was also flippant about people with poor internet connections/infastructure, not that justifies some of the abuse he got. Some keyboard warriors are tragic.