When Is A Console Not A Console?

Yesterday. I couldn't help but notice another new and exciting non-game Metro panel had somehow magically appeared on the now ghastly, abortive Xbox Dashboard. "TV Shows Now On Zune!" it screamed at me, celebrating the fact it had probably barged in the way of a perfectly decent advertising panel for a new videogame I should really hear about. But no. TV Shows! Now On Zune! I painfully navigated my way to the page in question and sure enough - there they were. Whole seasons for me to "own", if you can actually "own" a bunch of electrical data. Boxed games are so passe, right?

The onslaught of this constant attempt by Microsoft to neuter all of its videogame content from its supposed videogame-playing console is relentless. More and more non-game apps appear for you to check out, more movies to watch via Zune or Netflix or Lovefilm. More music. More non-game content. The app process, by the way, is a lesson in how not to do User Experience. Case in point - you see a new tile for a new app. Interested? Click on it and - oh. It's downloading already. No confirm, no details. There it goes. Well, I suppose I can - oh, an update? Okay. I'll get that too then. When you eventually get to the app itself, you know - the app you paid for the privilege of using if you are an Xbox Live subscriber - you'll discover that it is not only a terrible thing to navigate, it's also infested up the wazoo with advertising.

The latest Xbox 360 dash

The whole dash is infested. People complain, Microsoft shrug their big corporate shoulders. Nothing really gets done about it. I subscribe to Giant Bomb as I love the content - the removal of adverts is a nice bonus, but still - paying for a service and paying for the advertising seems somewhat... rich.

I digress. The adverts aren't the reason why I felt like venting on this blog. The games industry has had a rum old time as of late - it's been tough. We read stories of development houses imploding, falling sales, falling share prices. At one point - and I remember this turning point as it was a big deal for me working in the games industry - consoles were relegated to the slow trudge to oblivion as people turned to Facebook in their droves and played the shit out of causal wankery like Farmville. Well, I say "play". It's the loosest term considering what little actual gameplay there is in those types of games. This wasn't the only threat. Oh, no. Look out! Here comes the iPhone with its dirt-cheap games! 99p for a game? Gee, that sure beats £40, right?

Ladies and Gentlemen. We've all been fooled. You, me, your cat. The real threat to consoles isn't all of that noise. Nope. The real threat is what I outlined a mere few minutes past.

Netflix.

Xbox owners. I don't know if you have managed to see what your friends are up to these days, but half my friends (and "friends") on my list are busy watching movies. Non-game related movies. Maybe some of them are watching the joys of the Mortal Kombat movies in a fit of drunken irony. They aren't playing - or buying - games. Mr. Netflix will quite gladly deliver non-game related HD content to you as long as you keep that subscription up. Or rather, two subscriptions. Which cunt thought it was a good idea for you to have to be an Xbox Live member to also watch Netflix? Or Lovefilm? Or YouTube, for christsakes. Lunacy.

The original Xbox dash

At the moment, there is no greater threat to games than the likes of Netflix. Gaming machines have slowly become - urgh - media hubs. In the glory days of the original PlayStation, the CD Player part of the console was there as a bit of a jape really. Now the roles seem reversed - your media hub also happens to play videogames too. As more non-game apps appear, more non-game ads appear and continue to bury Xbox Live Arcade, Indie and full price games further deeper down the mess of the Kinect-cursed Xbox dashboard. I think back to the simplicity of the original Xbox dash. It was so easy to do things. So easy. Adverts seemed to be a rarity in those days, too. I knew it was too good to be true. The ad men always end up pasting their shit all over, well, everything.

I used to be an advocate of the Xbox dashboard and Xbox Live. Now? Guess what? The PS3 has squarely kicked the Xbox in the balls with its trusty, robust XMB. Although Sony's fortunes aren't so good these days, the PlayStation3 seems to be more of a comfortable place for the gamer to be a part of. The PlayStation Plus account joyfully festoons you with free games. It's almost as if it is encouraging you to play them! Sure, you can play BluRays and use the evil Netflix and Lovefilm (for free, I must add) to stream stuff, but here's a bunch of free games for you to never forget why you got into gaming in the first place. There are adverts, sure - but they sit discreetly in a bunch of slowly rotating tiles. No stupid Lynx video ads which crave your bandwidth. The latest PSN offerings also put the recent Xbox Live Summer of Arcade to shame. What happened, Microsoft?

The PS3 XMB's way of advertising - non-threateningly.

These days the PlayStation3 XMB is a no-nonsense, easily navigated experience compared to the mess which the Xbox dash has become. It'll get worse too. Kinect-enabled TV adverts are only the tip of a non-game advertising iceberg. Bring back the blades. I know you think you didn't like them, but they made navigating a shitload more easier than what we have now.

Maybe Phil Fish was right. Maybe Microsoft are a bunch of cunts.

17 Comments
18 Comments
Posted by pickassoreborn

Yesterday. I couldn't help but notice another new and exciting non-game Metro panel had somehow magically appeared on the now ghastly, abortive Xbox Dashboard. "TV Shows Now On Zune!" it screamed at me, celebrating the fact it had probably barged in the way of a perfectly decent advertising panel for a new videogame I should really hear about. But no. TV Shows! Now On Zune! I painfully navigated my way to the page in question and sure enough - there they were. Whole seasons for me to "own", if you can actually "own" a bunch of electrical data. Boxed games are so passe, right?

The onslaught of this constant attempt by Microsoft to neuter all of its videogame content from its supposed videogame-playing console is relentless. More and more non-game apps appear for you to check out, more movies to watch via Zune or Netflix or Lovefilm. More music. More non-game content. The app process, by the way, is a lesson in how not to do User Experience. Case in point - you see a new tile for a new app. Interested? Click on it and - oh. It's downloading already. No confirm, no details. There it goes. Well, I suppose I can - oh, an update? Okay. I'll get that too then. When you eventually get to the app itself, you know - the app you paid for the privilege of using if you are an Xbox Live subscriber - you'll discover that it is not only a terrible thing to navigate, it's also infested up the wazoo with advertising.

The latest Xbox 360 dash

The whole dash is infested. People complain, Microsoft shrug their big corporate shoulders. Nothing really gets done about it. I subscribe to Giant Bomb as I love the content - the removal of adverts is a nice bonus, but still - paying for a service and paying for the advertising seems somewhat... rich.

I digress. The adverts aren't the reason why I felt like venting on this blog. The games industry has had a rum old time as of late - it's been tough. We read stories of development houses imploding, falling sales, falling share prices. At one point - and I remember this turning point as it was a big deal for me working in the games industry - consoles were relegated to the slow trudge to oblivion as people turned to Facebook in their droves and played the shit out of causal wankery like Farmville. Well, I say "play". It's the loosest term considering what little actual gameplay there is in those types of games. This wasn't the only threat. Oh, no. Look out! Here comes the iPhone with its dirt-cheap games! 99p for a game? Gee, that sure beats £40, right?

Ladies and Gentlemen. We've all been fooled. You, me, your cat. The real threat to consoles isn't all of that noise. Nope. The real threat is what I outlined a mere few minutes past.

Netflix.

Xbox owners. I don't know if you have managed to see what your friends are up to these days, but half my friends (and "friends") on my list are busy watching movies. Non-game related movies. Maybe some of them are watching the joys of the Mortal Kombat movies in a fit of drunken irony. They aren't playing - or buying - games. Mr. Netflix will quite gladly deliver non-game related HD content to you as long as you keep that subscription up. Or rather, two subscriptions. Which cunt thought it was a good idea for you to have to be an Xbox Live member to also watch Netflix? Or Lovefilm? Or YouTube, for christsakes. Lunacy.

The original Xbox dash

At the moment, there is no greater threat to games than the likes of Netflix. Gaming machines have slowly become - urgh - media hubs. In the glory days of the original PlayStation, the CD Player part of the console was there as a bit of a jape really. Now the roles seem reversed - your media hub also happens to play videogames too. As more non-game apps appear, more non-game ads appear and continue to bury Xbox Live Arcade, Indie and full price games further deeper down the mess of the Kinect-cursed Xbox dashboard. I think back to the simplicity of the original Xbox dash. It was so easy to do things. So easy. Adverts seemed to be a rarity in those days, too. I knew it was too good to be true. The ad men always end up pasting their shit all over, well, everything.

I used to be an advocate of the Xbox dashboard and Xbox Live. Now? Guess what? The PS3 has squarely kicked the Xbox in the balls with its trusty, robust XMB. Although Sony's fortunes aren't so good these days, the PlayStation3 seems to be more of a comfortable place for the gamer to be a part of. The PlayStation Plus account joyfully festoons you with free games. It's almost as if it is encouraging you to play them! Sure, you can play BluRays and use the evil Netflix and Lovefilm (for free, I must add) to stream stuff, but here's a bunch of free games for you to never forget why you got into gaming in the first place. There are adverts, sure - but they sit discreetly in a bunch of slowly rotating tiles. No stupid Lynx video ads which crave your bandwidth. The latest PSN offerings also put the recent Xbox Live Summer of Arcade to shame. What happened, Microsoft?

The PS3 XMB's way of advertising - non-threateningly.

These days the PlayStation3 XMB is a no-nonsense, easily navigated experience compared to the mess which the Xbox dash has become. It'll get worse too. Kinect-enabled TV adverts are only the tip of a non-game advertising iceberg. Bring back the blades. I know you think you didn't like them, but they made navigating a shitload more easier than what we have now.

Maybe Phil Fish was right. Maybe Microsoft are a bunch of cunts.

Posted by Ravenlight

Maybe if you were a better consumer this wouldn't have happened. We've always been at war with Eastasia.

Edited by JoeyRavn

I don't see the problem, to be honest. My Xbox plays games as well as it used to. I put the game, install it, press A on the game icon and it plays just fine. People like Netflix, YouTube and all that stuff, so I guess it's natural for Microsoft to include access to those platforms on their console. I feel your rage is very misguided. Maybe the way it's presented is not the best, but I don't think you have to demonize Netflix users.

And, if you ask me, the constant snarky tone of your blog post doesn't make reading a very pleasant experience.

Posted by MikkaQ

I'll watch as many movies on my Xbox as I want to thank you very much. Shit, after buying a PC for games the damn thing has to do something right?

Posted by GrantHeaslip

As long as they don't take it too far (which I'd argue Microsoft have), it makes sense to have consoles also do media stuff -- most people want less boxes hooked up to their TVs, and having it in the console gives you nice benefits like the ability to receive game invites and whatnot. My big problem with the media stuff on the Xbox is that it's terrible -- at least in Canada, the dashboard always seems to be full of ads for Adam Sandler-esque movies and shitty TV shows. The selection is so godawful I don't know why they even bother. Netflix here also has a half-assed selection, but it's miles better than Microsoft's.

The biggest thing that pisses me off on the Xbox is that it's full of ads. It's insulting to pay $6/mo and have scroll past pages of bullshit ads to get to the 10% of the stuff on the dashboard I actually care about. The XMB has some promotional stuff on it as well, but like you said, it's way more tasteful. It's never made me angry the way the Dashboard does.

Microsoft is getting dangerously close to alienating the core gamers that made the Xbox and 360 a success in the first place, and I don't think they're going to be able to sustain the next-gen Xbox on people willing to pay $400 and $6/mo to watch Netflix when there are much better sub-$100 options out there. Between this and shedding a lot of their exclusive developers, they'd better have a good plan going into the next generation, especially since Sony has been making many of the right moves lately. Microsoft of all people should know that you can ruin a good thing very easily by taking your customers for granted -- the 360 overtook the PS3 early on for that very reason.

Posted by BraveToaster

It's the end of times I tell you!

Posted by AlexW00d

When it's ajar.

Posted by Godlyawesomeguy

What else is my Xbox supposed to do? Play games? Eff that! I have my PC!

Posted by iam3green

i totally agree. i do miss the blades. they were kind of organized with the things. there weren't as many ads as there are now. just the other day i looked at the dashboard and i didn't find too much stuff.

i have actually just been using my ps3 lately for netflix. it's because i don't know what i want to play. i just started playing the games that i bought from the steam sale.

Posted by bybeach

I do not use the 360 much anymore. I really do not like the dashboard.

Yeah, I play on pc mostly, to be honest.. No, the dashboard didn't push me there. But in the context that they are both competing for my gaming, while offering the other stuff, I find PC to be more direct, more accessible, streamlined and clear. Steam isn't buried under a pile of ads and lots of other shite, it is there and blatantly so to present and play games. Not an add to be seen really outside of BUY ME AND PLAY. It's all you need.

I understand what MS has done. I do not condemn the intent at all, I'm rather neutral really. But they have sure muddied it up. I go on X-box live to find 360 games, except nowadays i do not so much of that lately.

Just how it's become. The PC has won some kind of war. And just to mention my Ps3 gets still some action. I do not feel adverse to it like I do the 360. But it has it's own problems, say exemplified by Dawnguard.

Online
Posted by NarficAcid

You seem like a reasonable and rational guy. Sure I'll take your pamphlet.

Edited by believer258

I hate to break it to you, but the idea of the Xbox from the word go was to make an all-in-one media center, each of them with equal attention. Microsoft's goal with the Xbox has always been to make it what it is now, and the idea in theory isn't terrible. Microsoft's execution of it is horrible, to be sure, but to have something that you could reasonably buy for the purpose of watching movies and playing music on your nice living room TV and stereo, that also happens to play games, isn't a bad one. It's nice and easy to have one box that plays movies, plays music, plays games, etc.

Before you bring the PC up, I know. Trust me, I do - but others don't and, frankly, don't want to bother with setting it up. I could get PC's to do anything that pretty much any electronic device does and do it far better and far faster, but the disadvantage of having such a machine is needing to set it up. You might take your computer knowledge for granted, but some people would be completely stumped as to how to do that despite very clear instructions on a how-to or a forum. An Xbox is really easy to plug up and go so it's quite an ideal solution.

Posted by jonnyboy
Right about now.
Edited by Vegetable_Side_Dish

The Nextbox will be a multimedia-focused windows 8 kinect-box that also happens to play games. This is something you'll have to get used to. Microsoft will have fulfilled its dream of a fully locked down and controlled pc running windows in which they profit off every third party release and product (that they deem acceptable).  
 
Phil Fish is a cunt too.  
 
Peace. 

Posted by banishedsoul1

just because it has media does not mean its not a console. But saying that i would say when they run windows out the box it will be a pc.

Posted by JasonR86

@jonnyboy said:

Right about now.

That.

Also I think getting hung up on labels is silly.

Posted by killacam

@Ravenlight said:

Maybe if you were a better consumer this wouldn't have happened. We've always been at war with Eastasia.

i thought we were at war with oceania..

Posted by Grillbar

sorry for turning this in to a fanboy-ish post. and its really not meant to be.

i personally think that the fact that you have to pay to be able to play online on the xbox while still having a shit ton of adds and what not thrown in your face is just down right disgusting. not to mention a cluster fuck imo granted i dont own a xbox but from all the stuff i have seen it annoying me. the console it self is still awesome i guess since as i just stated i dont own one i cant really say for sure but i cant see that many bad things overall