My Xbox 360 has done a lot for me. It’s connected me with friends, far and near, old and new, over the years. It’s provided me with a lot of scares, some really brilliant movies, and the best gameplay moments of the past five years. It’s been there for me while I explored Rapture, while I nailed high scores in Rock Band, and for every moment of my time in Liberty City during GTA4. It’s been a constant companion, and (ever since my last box RROD’d a few years ago) it’s always been there for me.

But it’s never ordered me pizza. Until now.

Earlier this week, Microsoft announced that it had teamed up with Pizza Hut to create an app for the Xbox 360 console. Apps are big business in consoles these days: Netflix’s apps are used almost more often on game consoles than actual games are, all of the major sports leagues use console apps to keep their fans engaged, and as we head into the next generation of consoles, apps are only going to be more and more important. So it makes sense that Pizza Hut would want to grab a little console real estate, and release an app that allowed you to order a pizza from your console.

I’ll repeat that: This app allows you to order a pizza from your console.

Food delivery and video games have flirted before. Blizzard Entertainment famously joked that you’d be able to order Chinese food while playing World of Warcraft, and Everquest 2 pulled it off, letting you type “/pizza” into the game to be presented with an order window. But that’s a hack, really — it was just a script that opened up a web browser.

No, this Pizza Hut app is something entirely new — a direct connection between the gamer and his food. You can press buttons on a controller, and those buttons will directly equate to someone showing up at your door, with a piping hot pizza pie ready to eat.

This, my friends, is the future.

I had to try it. Not that I need any pizza — in fact, I’m in the middle of a three-month diet, and pizza is probably the last thing I need sitting around my house. But did Einstein worry if he “needed” a Theory of Relativity? Did Franklin worry if he “needed” to find lightning? Did Alexander Graham Bell worry if he “needed” to speak to people person-to-person at long distances?

Actually, he probably did.

But never mind that. No, my diet wasn’t going to stand in the way of science, in the way of the future. Ordering pizza directly from my game console is a very real possibility. And I had to take advantage of it.

The process begins by downloading the actual app — this is a one-time download of about 175 MB for free. The app simply installs itself on your Xbox’s hard drive, to sit there alongside your Netflix or Spotify apps. Installing the app was simple, and took maybe five minutes or so to download and set up.

Once open, the app prompts you that you’ll need a Pizza Hut account. If you’ve already ordered from them online, you can sign into your premade account directly. I hadn’t ordered from them at all (I prefer to eat from non-chain restaurants as much as possible), so I had to go through the process of setting my account, and plugging in my name, address, and my email. This wasn’t exactly easy to do with my Xbox controller, and might have been faster if I’d just walked over to my computer and typed it in there. But no — I was a pioneer, a technological journeyman, and I was going to put my name in using just the Xbox’s buttons, no matter what.

Once your account is set up, the Pizza Hut app brings you to a simple menu where you can choose to order pizza, pasta, sides and drinks, or directly from a deals menu. I browsed through the deals menu, and picked something that seemed reasonable, a $22 deal for a few pizzas, some wings, and a side of something called “Quepapas.” These may be local to LA — I don’t see them on the standard Pizza Hut website, and apparently they’re little fried potatoes that are meant to appeal to the local Hispanic population.

I picked my deal, and then picked my pizzas. This was also very simple — you can pick from a premade type, or do what I did and choose all of your toppings and tweaks manually. I had picked two medium pan pizzas, and that’s what I made: One with chicken and pineapple, and another with sausage and peppers. The menu was straightforward, if a little too pared down — there was no option to make the pizza with extra love, or to ask for something drawn on the box, which is something you’d be able to do ordering your pizza the traditional way.

I ordered my wings hot, with ranch dressing on the side, but then switched that to blue cheese when I realized the Quepapas already came with ranch. My order all lined up and ready to go, I simply hit “confirm,” and just like that, I stepped into the pages of history. I was greeted with a screen saying my order was on the way. I was a bit disappointed by the relative lack of fanfare — I had just ordered a pizza through my gaming console! But I did have the option to share the purchase on my Facebook page, if I wanted to.

I would have! But I wasn’t signed in to that account on my Xbox, and to be honest, I think I forgot the password.

Still, I was proud to join the venerated ranks of innovators as a true technological pioneer!

I confirmed the order right around 2:55pm, and my pizza was given an ETA of 3:38pm, but it showed up early, right at 3:22pm. History had been made. I had been hungry, sat down in front of my Xbox, pressed some buttons into the Pizza Hut app, played a little Assassin’s Creed 3, and 30 minutes later, a kind man showed up at my door with a big bag full of food just for me. I should note that I did plan to pay with a credit card, but the app didn’t let me do that directly — if you want to save a credit card in the system, you need to do it from the web. I had to pay with cash.

That’s right. I didn’t want to have to go across the room to type in my card number. This is the future — I can order food directly from my couch now. We have made it, people. Back in 1877 when Mr. Xbox dreamed about using his little leather-and-wood game board to contact the Hut family down the road (who’d just recently immigrated from Italy) to see if he could bring over one of his “pit-za pies,” he could never have imagined that just a little over a century later, his dreams would become reality. We are living Mr. Xbox’s dream, people. The future has arrived, and all of our lives are better for it.

How was the food? The pizza was the same soggy cardboard I ate as a kid. I ate a few pieces and put the rest in the fridge to save for a hangover. The wings were slimy with grease (weren’t they supposed to be hot?), and the quepapas were little balls of fried bland. I tried a couple of each and tossed the rest out.



Posted on Wednesday, April 24th, 2013 at 11:36 pm. Filed under general.
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