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Microsoft won't punish Argos

Thu 20 Sep 2007 3:58pm GMT / 11:58am EDT / 8:58am PDT

Microsoft will not penalise Argos for releasing a small number of Halo 3 final boxed copies to the public a week before the official release.

Microsoft will not penalise Argos for releasing a small number of Halo 3 final boxed copies to the public a week before the official release.

Neil Thompson, senior regional director for the UK and Ireland at Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices division, has told GamesIndustry.biz he is satisfied that the occurrence was not malicious, and that it was a genuine mistake which the retailer has gone to great lengths to prevent from happening again.

"From what I understand of it, it was an honest and genuine mistake. I'm disappointed that it happened because of the turmoil it creates, but I totally understand that in every organisation sometimes it's tough to manage every particular aspect of your supply chain and everything, to the nth degree, so that something won't go wrong at some point."

"I don't think there was any malice on the part of Argos at all, it was just an honest mistake. Argos reacted incredibly quickly to the mistake, they issued us with a detailed summation of why the mistake happened - mistakes like that, we have to be somewhat flexible."

He added that he was pleased other retailers hadn't used the slip as an opportunity to break the street date themselves, and warned that any company doing so intentionally could expect Microsoft to withdraw its support.

"I'm happy at the moment that nobody has used that as an excuse to go and do silly things. We've been very clear with retailers that if they do choose to go down that path, then a lot of the support that we've given them, in marketing and things like that - that has an impact on it."

"We're pretty forceful in our approach to these things, because we want it to be a fair market for all."

Halo 3 is set to launch next Wednesday in the UK in a blaze of publicity, with hype levels rivalling the biggest of box office premieres, but Thompson isn't concerned that too much hype could be an issue.

"Everyone will talk about the money, and stuff like that, because that's a headline-grabbing idea - that gaming is potentially going to be the biggest entertainment event that hits this country this year."

"If you over-hype something that doesn't deliver on the promise, then you run the risk of a backlash and that can work against you. I honestly don't believe that's the case with Halo 3."

Thompson spoke to GamesIndustry.biz at a press event in which Microsoft was rounding up its Christmas line-up, and the full interview will be published next week.

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