A Pride Month initiative from Microsoft will see the company donate $170,000 to a variety of LGBTQI charities, while selling a "Pride" controller indefinitely to support the community. None of the profits from the controller sales will be donated going forward at the time of writing. Design lab controllers are modified versions of the normal $50 Xbox controller, starting at $70, and rising to $100 or more.
In 2021, Microsoft’s gross profit, not revenue, was $115.8 billion. When asked for comment on the plan to keep all profits from the controller, Brand Manager Aleksey Fedorov would not speak on that question. Instead, he told Inven that Microsoft has donated over $8M “together with employees”, but declined to comment on what percentage of that sum has come from the company itself.
Had Microsoft donated the entirety of the $8M themselves, that would represent 0.006% of their annual profit for 2021, but obviously, their share was only part of the $8M. The $170,000 donation works out to be roughly 0.00014% of their 2021 profit.
Still, this represents an improvement from their initiative last year, where they released the same controller as a limited edition, making their inclusive item exclusive right off the bat. We reached out to Microsoft’s community manager Josh Stein for further information on any potential Pride initiatives we’d missed, but he declined to respond to our request for comment.
EA's awkward logo incident
The scale and history of seemingly empty gestures designed for PR purposes are well known in gaming, but progress has been slow nevertheless. This year, Electronic Arts (EA) were even called out by their own employees over plans which lacked “any substantive statement” on trans rights, according to a statement published in GamesIndustryBiz.
The company had handed down a set of guidelines for Pride Month initiatives, saying gestures "may not be political in nature," and stating that any copy or graphics produced for the event be submitted to EA's corporate communications team for review prior to publication. This all followed a roundtable on May 24, where the company said it would not take a stand on topics “such as trans rights or abortion rights”.
This didn’t stop studio heads that are apparently under EA’s control from making their own statements. One such was Apex Legends maker and Respawn’s lead Vince Zampella posting in support of trans rights on his own Twitter account. This led to a widely positive response from gamers, with some even mentioning that the diversity in Apex had drawn them to the game in the first place.
EA’s mismanagement of their own Pride initiatives ended up coming to a head with employees threatening to walk out if the famous EA logo was rainbow-washed, with staff feeling that was nothing more than an empty and unearned gesture that would be hypocritical in the wider context. The walkout was canceled after EA shelved plans to change the logo, with the firm saying they will announce further Pride initiatives.