Games Marketing/Business

Why Would You Buy an XBox 360 Again?

One of the things we talked about on the Chicago Game Developer Gathering panel was underserved markets. I didn’t get an opportunity to mention it at the time, but even if you assume that the current generation of consoles is meeting the demand, which it generally isn’t, you wouldn’t be able to play their offerings anyway.

If you don’t already own a Wii, you won’t anytime soon. Somehow Nintendo has had a supply problem for over a year now, which makes it impossible to find in stores unless you want to be that creepy person who is ALWAYS at Game Stop.
The PS3 is a great BluRay player that also happens to play a few games.
The XBox 360 and Live Arcade would be great…if the hardware wasn’t so flaky.

Seriously, 1 out of 3 XBox 360s have a hardware problem, and it sounds like someone needs to introduce Microsoft to Six Sigma. There have been reports that people have sent Microsoft their busted 360s only to get a new one back, which also ends up malfunctioning one-third of the time. Sometimes it isn’t a new one that gets sent back but a refurbished one…you know, one of the malfunctioning ones that people have sent in the first place.

And then there is Kevin, who has to deal not only with Microsoft’s support for the hardware but also has to deal with it’s so-called DRM.

The Consumerist’s Microsoft Has No Answer For Their Broken XBOX Live DRM summarizedthe story so far and allowed Kevin to gripe about his experience. See, Kevin also suffered the Red Ring of Death, and he sent the machine in and received a new one. A new machine, with a new serial number.

So what’s the problem? Well, Kevin had purchased a lot of content from XBox Live, which is tied to his ORIGINAL XBox 360 and won’t run on his new one, even though he owns it. Microsoft has done a horrible job of providing support for Kevin, too.

This new replacement console has a different serial number and as a result all of my downloaded content only works now when the purchasing profile is signed into Xbox live. Additional profiles on the system can no longer access the content. I can no longer access the content when I’m not signed into Xbox Live. So any internet issues with my system or Xbox Live (which experienced serious problems for most of last month) means I can no longer use the items I have purchased. As far as I’m concerned since the functionality I had before is now crippled my console has not been repaired.

My Atari 2600 still works. I have an original GameBoy that still runs. Is there a reason why consoles of this last generation are such a risk for the customer to purchase? You’re being asked to pay hundreds of dollars just for the system, and you have no realistic expectation that it will JUST WORK?

I was looking forward to getting a Wii, but I wanted to wait because the last time I purchased a console, I bought it one month before a price drop. I figured I would be able to purchase another game with the savings if I waited it out this time. Well, the Wii is in such high demand and has such a hard time fulfilling it that the price drop isn’t going to come anytime soon. I know some people have had hardware failures with the Wii as well, but I believe Nintendo has been better about making sure such problems don’t continue years into the Wii’s life. I have heard that there has been a lack of games for the system, but as I don’t own one yet, I haven’t done much research.

The PS3…well, I can’t recall getting excited about anything regarding this machine. I was in a Game Stop recently and was watching some kid play Super Smash Bros Brawl. I kept hearing a loud whirring noise, and when I turned to look, I realized I was hearing the PS3 on display. That thing is loud! If anything was ever a candidate for liquid cooling, this was it. Frankly, even if I was interested in any of the handful of games available for it, my wallet is protected by the Geneva Conventions for the kind of torture I would need to put it through to afford it.

So that leaves the XBox 360, which I think would make for a great system to own. XBLA alone would be worth it. Unfortunately, I can’t trust that the system I buy will actually work, especially not for the price. I only have a 66% chance that I will be able to play games on it, and that’s assuming that it doesn’t fail a few months down the road. If it does fail, I have no guarantee that Microsoft will stand behind it. I know one person who has had to return his machine 4 different times. He purchased a second machine because he didn’t want to wait for his first one to get fixed, and that machine also failed eventually. And if Kevin’s story is any indication, Microsoft’s DRM does more to lock you out of your purchases than anything else. What kind of value add is that?

With all of the problems with the console industry, why is anyone ringing the death knell for the PC as a gaming platform? A desktop computer seems the be the most stable “next-gen” platform out there, and there aren’t any supply problems preventing me from owning one. There isn’t a shortage of games, either.

[tags] xbox, xbox 360, ps3, wii, games, video games, market [/tags]