Xbox 360 Impressions: 1 Month After

What I hate about Xbox 360

It is now one month since I’ve bought my Xbox. I was quite surprised when I realized that. During just that one month, a lot of things happened. I bought, tried and even finished quite a lot of new games. Looking back, I’m generally happy with the purchase. The games have mostly a great quality and the on-line features are excellent.

But there is one problem that taints the whole Xbox experience. While I do enjoy the product, I have that uneasy feeling that Microsoft is constantly fucking me up the ass. Pretty much every tiny feature about the Xbox has to be explicitly purchased. I already whined about the 80€ wi-fi adapter – not only is it a feature I’d expect to be built-in, it is also insultingly expensive. Now I also had to pay for a battery and a cable to connect my controller to the console so it actually charges that battery – both things that are already supplied with the PS3. Then – of course – they come in these insanely frustrating packages which make me feel as if Microsoft wants to actively hurt me. As if they were giving me candies with nails in it.

But there is a new catch I’ve discovered. I found out that I have my Xbox for one month because my free one month Xbox Live Gold membership just ran out. So until now, I didn’t actually have a clear idea what the difference between the expensive “Xbox Live Gold” membership and the free “Xbox Live Silver” was. There was yet another feature list I couldn’t be bother to go through. I knew I would find out eventually and I did now: you basically can’t play games on-line with the “Silver” one. ALL multiplayer features of ALL games are switched off when you downgrade to “Silver”. Again, this is just like the wi-fi adapter: it is not only something I would expect to be free, upgrading to Gold is also insanely expensive. You pay somewhere between 5 and 7 euro per month! I pay less for my cell phone, for god’s sake! And I already paid over 200€ for the system, 80€ for the wi-fi and 60€ for the game!

It’s bad enough that they came up with that cut-throat system, they even don’t have the courtesy to honestly communicate that. Fist, they use misleading names: there is nothing “Silver” about the Xbox Live Silver. Silver is basically NOTHING. They point out things like that you can buy Arcade games, but since you have to PAY Microsoft Points for that, it is no privilege. And don’t you just love how in the Wikipedia Article “Multiplayer Gaming” appears on the 6th place of the feature list? Since there is something called Xbox Live Silver, you don’t expect to have that kind of a feature missing at all. So even when you read “online-play”, you misinterpret it as something more advanced because you already take the basic multiplayer for granted. It’s like you are buying a new car and considering adding some extras and the list goes like “golden curb feelers“, “extra size cup holder” and oh, “an engine” – you don’t think that the basic car is missing an engine, you think the engine listed is more powerful or economic or something. If they were honest, there would be no Silver bullshit and the gold one would be actually called “Xbox Live Multiplayer” to make sure there is no confusion.

Well, I’m done venting. I got myself another 3 month card but I haven’t used it yet. At this point, I’m weary of doing so because as soon as the card is activated, I would feel compelled to play on-line just so I get my money’s worth. Even though I do enjoy the Product, I don’t feel any love coming from Microsoft and I do wonder if it wouldn’t have been less frustrating to grab a PS3 instead. I guess it’s too late to change now.

Krystian Majewski

Krystian Majewski was born in Warsaw and studied design at Köln International School of Design. Before, he was working on a mid-size console project for NEON Studios in Frankfurt. He helped establish a Master course in Game Design and Research at the Cologne Game Lab. Today he teaches Game Design at various institutions and develops independent games.

2 responses to “Xbox 360 Impressions: 1 Month After”

  1. Luis Antón

    You just can’t imagine how happy I’m right now with my PS3, with it’s wifi, wireless sixaxis and free online gaming. I was unsure about the PS3 because of it’s price, but I got one for Christmas from my wife.

    I felt in love with it (with the PS3, I mean) when I discovered that I could plug in an external USB device and listen to MP3, watch pictures and DIVX movies, all that right out the box.

    Much more when I started playing Little Big Planet, but that’s just about gaming.

    Well, thank you for your review. It should be shared: most people have no idea about the Xbox Live thing and all those extras you have to pay for. I really wanted to play Gears of War and Dead Rising… but I think I’ll do that on my next PC.

  2. Krystian Majewski

    Thanks for rubbing it in. ;-)

    But to be fair, even if I bought a 12 Month Gold Membership, I still would be below the price for a PS3. It just seems so expensive because you repeatedly discover that the whole thing is MORE expensive than you thought – an effect recently described by Daniel Gilbert on TED.

    So it is not so much about the price but about the way Microsoft is doing business. It’s all based on mis-information and deception. Even if it looks nice and shiny, it is generally a very consumer unfriendly.

    As for the features – they are comparable. The Xbox also plays MP3 and DIVX as I already mentioned. So no reason to go off on a fanboy war.

    As for the games. Gears of War turned out to be not so hot for me, though I recently found out that co-op split-screen multiplayer is a lot of more fun. On the other hand, Braid was worth it and I also kinda grew very attached to Catan. It just shows that if some small, simple game get a grip on you, all the Gears of Wars and Metal Gear Solids in the World are wort nothing. Just like in love. ;-)

    And of course, I will get me a PS3 anyway. I’m planning to buy one when the new Gran Turismo comes out.


The Game Design Scrapbook is a second blog of group of three game designers from Germany. On our first blog, Game Design Reviews we describe some games we played and point out various interesting details. Unfortunately, we found out that we also need some place to collect quick and dirty ideas that pop into our minds. Hence, welcome to Game Design Scrapbook. You will encounter wild, random rantings. Many of then incoherent. Some of them maybe even in German. If you don't like it, you might enjoy Game Design Reviews more.


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