Microsoft's Changes to Xbox Console Leave Republicans Outraged

Microsoft has announced changes to its Xbox console settings that is to allow users to save more energy and reduce the carbon impact of their gaming. But this has been read (or misread) by Republican representatives and organizations as the "woke brigade" wanting to "take your Xbox."

In a bid to reach its goal of being carbon negative and a "zero waste" company by 2030, Microsoft outlined two new changes to Xbox settings on January 11.

The company included a feature that allows the console to pick a time of the night for maintenance and updates to use the most renewable energy from the electrical grid, and a "shutdown" setting that can replace the sleep mode, which it says saves 20 times the energy.

"We not only hold ourselves accountable to the carbon emissions in the production and distribution of our products, but to the emissions created with the use of our products in the homes of our fans as well," Blaine Hauglie, technical program manager at Xbox wrote. "So, the way we design our hardware and software to be more efficient and optimized for renewable energy can have a big impact."

Comp Image, Ted Cruz and Xbox Console
In this combination image, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) pictured in Nevada November, 2022 and an inset image of an Xbox controller. Cruz said: "They're gunning for your Xbox." Getty

His explanation of the new shutdown setting stipulates that it "will not affect performance, gameplay, or your console's ability to receive overnight updates" and can be adjusted "at any time" so users can choose "what works best for you." Hauglie said two consoles that switched to the shutdown setting for a year would save the same amount of carbon as a tree planted and grown for a decade.

However, this was interpreted in an article by Blaze Media, a conservative outlet, as suggesting Microsoft would "force gamers to power down to fight climate change."

It noted, correctly, that the shutdown setting would mean some Xbox consoles have a slower boot time and others will not be able to be woken remotely. But the setting can, ultimately, be changed, according to Microsoft, if that is what the user wants.

"First gas stoves, then your coffee, now they're gunning for your Xbox," Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) tweeted on Monday, citing a previous furore over remarks made by an official from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission about the health harms of gas stoves. The CPSC chair stated emphatically at the time that it was not looking to ban gas stoves.

"A default setting does not mean they are 'forcing' anyone to do anything," one user responded. "As an Xbox owner, this has been a choice for a while now. I appreciate that they offer it."

"They want to take your guns. They want to take your gas stoves. And now they want to take your Xbox," Troy Nehls, a congressman for Texas, wrote in a similar vein to Cruz's remarks. "What's next?"

"Now the woke brigade is after video games all in the name of climate change," tweeted the Young America's Foundation, a conservative youth organization whose president is former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.