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My First Year with the Xbox 360

I don’t think any of you can tell, but the Xbox Live avatar actually enjoys Linux, any other kind of open source software, and biggest of all PlayStation! (GASP!)

Alright, before it becomes one huge thing, let me preface this by saying that I have enjoyed my time on the Xbox 360.  For what Microsoft has created, it is pretty good.  The system has come up over the years and has evolved into one of the biggest entertainment centers of all time.  I must say that Microsoft has leveraged the two things that it knows how to do and did them well on this console: to make decent software that majority of the world can understand and use and to make money off said users.  Now with that said, let’s get on the show…

Oh, the good ole days…

I’m pretty sure like most of you, I grew up with video games.  I don’t know how much gaming you were able to get as a child, but in my household, I didn’t get to play much.  My mom would consider it some kind of an addiction (before video game addiction actually became a “thing”).  I wasn’t always able to get the latest and greatest having to deal with the Nintendo Entertainment System until the Nintendo 64 was released.  Luckily, I had a cousin who wasn’t as unfortunate and I would go to his house and play the games I was missing out on (the Nintendo ones anyway).  I never really played much Sega, but was always intrigued by it and really thought they had more going than Nintendo did (What happened, Sega?).

Luckily, the time between consoles after the N64 purchase wasn’t very long as I was able to convince my parents to purchase a PlayStation 2 over a GameCube and Xbox (which I found out wasn’t really my choosing as the PS2 could play DVDs out of the box).  During the reign of the PS2, I began to understand more and more about hardware, software, and nearly anything else technical.  Around this time, as I still wasn’t able to play video games the way I wanted to (remember, I could get addicted), I took a more passive roll in finding out about video games.  I couldn’t play them, so I would read about them, research them, study them. There would be times where I could play them, making sure I savored each moment. But I want to say, during that time I learned a lot more about the technology behind video games and not just the game itself.

During high school, when I was figuring myself out and determining what I wanted to do with my life, I somewhat made it a goal in life to play with almost any kind of piece of technology that exists in the world.  I didn’t have to touch every single electronic device manufactured (it wasn’t much then but its a helluva lot now!).  I just wanted to learn how things worked and compare them to others.  You know, become a technology blogger without the blogging part.  Blogging was just starting then, and I wasn’t aware of it, so I had no idea there could be ways to make money from it, so I just turned it into a hobby.

You know you can learn from hobbies…

So, obviously, the first thing I would do with this new hobby would be to compare things that I at least knew something about.  First, I was able to acknowledge that Dell was a piece of crap computer manufacturer and would rather build a PC than buy one of theirs (however, their Axiom Windows Mobile 5 handhelds were pretty good).  Then, there was start of my move from closed source software with Firefox and then Ubuntu (couldn’t get far with that as network drivers weren’t really there for most machines (I caught a lot of hell for that)).  But the thing I spent most of my time studying and debating was the differences between Sony’s PlayStation 2 and Microsoft’s Xbox.

Now, I’ve made these arguments several times over the years and I still stand by it.  On paper, the Xbox was the superior console.  The thing was pretty much a computer (even the PS2 could have been turned into one with the Linux add-on).  Essentially it was Microsoft’s Direct X platform but in a box (for those who don’t know, that’s where they got the name Xbox).  The system had a hard drive and networking built in. Then, Microsoft creates this online community to allow gamers to play each other around the world.  You would think that this system would have performed gangbusters…

But it didn’t.  The king of that generation was the PS2. Maybe it was the year headstart. Maybe it was easier to develop for.  You can still go to stores today and buy a new PS2 while it would take going to the Temple of Doom to find a used Xbox.  GameStop would kick your ass out the store if you even tried to trade an Xbox game for store credit.

So, where are they now…

It seems that Microsoft may have learned a lot from its last console. They created the Xbox 360.  They went back to the drawing board.  They made it smaller.  They made the architecture similar to a PC for easy developing. They also made it cheaper.  But it did come with some caveats.  The Xbox 360 was (and still is) a very noisy system.  They made the hard drive an optional accessory along with wireless to cut said costs.  We can only speculate as to why it happened as Microsoft won’t tell us what happened, but the system was prone to a high failure rate for almost any electronic device.  It made Dell computers come back in style as they tended to last longer when the console was released.

Now they have since released a newer system, which fixes some of the issues that were bought up.  I haven’t heard of anyone’s Xbox 360 red-ringing.  Microsoft was so confident in it, that they removed the red lights from the console that would normally indicate some type of failure. Now that takes balls.  However, if I get cold, I can still use it warm up a room and possibly even a white noise machine.  In its defense, my home theater system tends to generate they same amount of noise and my work laptop generates about the same BTUs (British Thermal Units) of heat.

Its challenger this go round is the PlayStation 3.  A technological powerhouse.  The thing houses a Cell processor which was developed by IBM and is used in super computers.  Some even use a cluster of PS3 just for the processing power alone (can’t anymore as Sony removed the Linux capabilities provided they updated it).  Every system came with a hard drive, wireless, Bluetooth, HDMI and digital out among other things.  However, these things made the system super expensive and it releasing a year after the Xbox 360 with a lower price didn’t help much. Through several implementations, the PS3 has lost some weight and has improved its internals while bringing the cost down.  However, there are plenty of issues plaguing Sony and still keeping many people away.

From the beginning, I had been a member of Sony’s camp.  First it was because it was all I had with the PS2.  Then, it was because I actually wanted the better console on paper before you turn on the system and played a game.  This was the only way I was able to determine which one was best.  I was in college when both were released and it was very hard to find someone who had either and wanted to bring it to school with them.  Most of my friends and their PS2s.  Finally, once all the madness settled and people started bringing in their consoles, I was finally able to sample both, but I then began to notice something.  More and more people had purchased 360s.  It took me a while to understand why this was going on and I’ll admit, I was in denial.  Hiding behind facts and figures without really giving either a try, really.  I knew what I wanted and that was it.

 …and where do I stand?

I had bought a PS3 in September of 2009, right after the price drop and introduction of the 2nd iteration.  I bought a used 1st iteration PS3 as I still wanted to install Linux on it and play around with the features that were going to be missing from the 2nd.  Even after playing it, regardless of the slow download speeds and updates, I had remained blind to it. I still defended the PS3 as being the better system.  When asked about the PS3s shortcomings, I would always have workarounds to it or just dismiss them completely.  360 owners would almost stop at nothing to remind me of the PS3’s shortcomings and why nobody was on it. Numbers released recently would suggest otherwise and that the PS3 had been starting to outsell the 360, but I believe that’s only because everyone had already bought a 360 and just wanted something else for the time being.

In December of 2011, I had purchased an Xbox 360.  I finally gave in.  I was tired of fighting the fight.  I wanted to see what all the hubbub was about.  I, also, wanted the ability to say that with both consoles, I could actually give an unbiased opinion as to why I prefer one over the other.  It seemed like it was the most logical thing to do. And it was.

After playing with it for a year, the Xbox 360 does serve its purpose.  As stated before, the Xbox 360 shows that Microsoft can do something right when it sticks to things it knows: making decent software and making money from it.  Unlike Sony, who is hardware and not software, Microsoft has leveraged about everything it currently has in the market in terms of software and ties it back to the one piece of hardware that it has (and, yes, I am ignoring the Zune and the Surface hasn’t really been out that long).  And because this software tends to be really good, they know they can get people to pay for it because someone has to maintain it.

Sony, on the other hand, doesn’t do to well with this.  It has tried to tie its hardware with other hardware like the Bravia TV line and their Viao laptops, but with those items being equally expensive, they didn’t really pan out.  With the weak performance the PlayStation Portable had in the US and even worse performance with the PS Vita now (both due to them being very expensive and extremely proprietary), Sony is really losing at all ends.  They have attempted to try and match their products together and even take their brand on the road with PlayStation Mobile, but it seems like its too little too late.

With that being said, I still prefer the PlayStation 3 over the Xbox 360.  Yes, the Xbox has more to offer.  All my friends are there.  There is a huge community and decent ecosystem.  There are apps for my mobile device that let me do more with the system than I can with my PS3, but its not things that I asked for.  I have friends on my PS3 that I only want to associate with if I’m playing the same game.  The PlayStation community is equally large.  The ecosystem would be there if more people actually joined up and created things for it.  But the main thing for me is, that its free to use.  I can tell this to Xbox users until I blue in the face (and seeing that I’m black, that’ll be very hard to do), but they won’t care.  And with good reason.  They see that they pay for the ability to play with friends or be able to talk to them while playing different games.  I understand that, and I have used that feature (albeit because someone else didn’t want to play the game that others and I were playing). But the bottom line is, even on a software and experience level, I still prefer the PS3.

4 Comments

  • Sega had way too much hubris at the time…. they had great ideas and pushed new/interesting/different systems out to the masses, but they did a little bit too much too fast. They could be doing great things right now with that kind of innovation if they were a little smarter and reserved back in the day…. but yeah. Mario and Sonic Olympics *sad face*

  • Reply
    thecrapgamer
    Feb 17, 2013 7:31 pm

    If you are a gamer, gaming is your hobby. Xbox Live is relatively cheap and most of the time you can pick up a year card for $35, my bank fee’s every month cost more than my Xbox Live. I prefer the ecosystem that Xbox Live offers, every game since its launch in 2005 has Achievements, where as it wasn’t mandatory for PS3 games until 2009. There are no installs on the Xbox 360, although you have the option to, you can appear offline, look at the friends on your friends friends list, no syncing and a ton of other features.

    I’ll never understand why Sony never bothered to change that outdated look of PSN? Why cant they at least add voice messaging? It’s a lot of little things, but Xbox Live is like the Facebook of social gameplay, while PSN is more like the old Myspace, a hauppauge of clutter and none of it is pretty to look at.

    PS3 is nice, I’ve owed one since 2007, owned a 360 since it launched in 2005, I just think Microsoft “gets” it when it comes to online play.

    • Reply
      Marcus Summers
      Feb 18, 2013 9:58 am

      As I say to everyone, to each their own. I’m not saying Microsoft’s service is bad. Its just not for me. I commended them for being able to sell a service to people that they can get free or cheaper everywhere else. I say the same about Windows and Mac because I use Linux. Do I expect everyone to see it my way? Not at all. I just like to think I’m a “glutton for punishment” as everyone probably thinks I am…

      • Reply
        Crapgamer
        Feb 23, 2013 5:46 pm

        If I could get EVERYTHING I get from Xbox Live for free, I certainly would. The problem is that I haven’t found that, PSN is the exact same as it was in 2006 when it launched.
        As a gamer I look at gaming as a hobby, if I couldn’t afford the price for the online service, I probably shouldn’t have that as my hobby. $35 a year, which is what I’ve always paid, is such a small price point, I pay more for a single haircut.

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