In the film Invasion of the Body Snatchers, something terrible happens to an entire town: aliens invade, replacing every human with a doppelgänger.
I think something similar is happening right now, but instead of space aliens the culprit is Sony - and instead of a Californian town, it's replaced everybody involved in selling the Xbox One.
I'm serious. How else can we explain the curious unmarketing campaign Microsoft's running, where every week brings news of yet another reason to get a PS4 instead? With the dust from the pre-owned/always-on tomfoolery only just settling, we now discover that the Xbox One is all about ads.
Advertising execs excepted, hands up who thought: "Well, my Xbox 360 is good and all, but I really wish it was built more with advertising in mind"? Who's just gagging to spend several hundred pounds on a new console, games and an Xbox LIVE sub so that they can interact with carefully selected third parties?
There's only one possible explanation. It's the invasion of the Xbox Snatchers!
According to Microsoft, advertising was an "afterthought" with the Xbox 360: the console's focus was on gaming, not bugging you with ads. Microsoft's goal of playing "a significant role in TV advertising" wasn't really possible until the launch of the New Xbox Experience in 2011, and this time around it's thinking about advertising from the get-go.
Speaking to StickTwiddlers, Xbox Live advertising team members outlined the glorious Kinect-monitored future.
Your console will use Kinect to work out who's in the room and your Xbox LIVE account to mine your demographic information, and it'll use that data to more precisely target advertising. That advertising will be more intrusive than before, too, because we're too good at ignoring ads.
The reason we're so good at ignoring ads is because many of us don't want them, and the reason most of us don't want them is because advertising is often awful: aggressive, invasive, interruptive and often irrelevant.
Done well, advertising is fine, but advertising is often done very, very badly. There's a big difference between a banner telling you there's new DLC for one of your favourite games and an ad that gets in your face or prevents you from doing something - or an ad that tries to tempt your kids to play some hideous branded Kinect "experience".
That prospect's enough to keep me from pre-ordering.
We call the Xbox One a console, but it isn't really: it's Microsoft's latest attempt to take over TV, something it's been trying and largely failing to do since the 1990s - remember WebTV or the parade of Windows Media Centers?
With the Xbox 360, gaming was the priority and ads were an afterthought. With the Xbox One, have those positions been reversed?
- Further reading: The Xbox One reversal has only postponed an inevitable DRM future