That's IT Microsoft! (360 dash rant)

I think it's pretty fantastic how Microsoft has continuously failed to apply any of the feedback they have received over the years regarding the Xbox 360 frontend. It started out bad but functional, and has become the modern portrait of bloat and design by committee. The crowning achievement of the previous iteration was hiding Mark of the Ninja, a Microsoft published game, behind so many steps of search and scan that people didn't realize it was available to buy, so we'll start there.

Mark of the Ninja was a highly anticipated game. It had generated a significant amount of buzz, and touched on the stealth genre, which rarely receives such lavish attention. It was on my calendar. On the day, I turn on the system, to discover ads for music, film, and DLC downloads for a game I didn't own. There was practically zero discoverability on launch day, requiring users instead to tab over to the games tab (no MotN there either), open the arcade tab, and pick it from there.

The previous dash apparently had no mechanism for delivering actual news, OR the news was curated in such a fashion that even Microsoft published games didn't bubble up to the dashboard front. As far as I can tell the latter is the case for almost every issue the 360 dash has had the past years: An emphasis on advertising over curating content tailored for the user.

It's really cool to go to the game DLC tab and "discover" nothing but advertised DLC for games I don't own you guys!

I can scarcely contain how distasteful I find the way Microsoft has handled the 360. Purchasing an expensive piece of hardware and accessories, purchasing video games at a premium - A "HD premium" of $60, one of the most self destructive things the games industry has ever done - and even paying a monthly fee for online play, Microsoft have milked the 360 userbase in a thoroughly disgusting fashion. It's the culmination of the corporate idea of "games as a service", taken to the darkest place where exactly nobody wins.

Sony offers actual games as part of its PlayStation+ service, an initiative that started out looking like an attempt at repeating the Microsoft cash grab, but has over time shown itself to be a legitimate boon to the users. Microsoft offers puny discounts (really, really puny discounts, like barely discounted DLC for age old games) and still drown you in a barrage of advertising.

Destructoid's Jim Sterling accurately summed up the abominable Kinect as being "built on a foundation of lies", and I don't feel off expanding that notion to Microsoft's entire console strategy. They have exploited every opportunity to squeeze a few extra bucks out of its user base, and their reasoning for doing so is wafer thin nonsense at best, and outright offensive at worst.

It doesn't make things better that the 360 dash, even with the most recent update, is pitiful stuff. It only takes a second to realize that the wide spread of tabs and "tiles" is hopelessly bound by the dogmas of Microsoft's Windows 8 push, and has little interest in actually servicing the user. Even the minute details, like the front-end language, for me, being in Norwegian and the system language being in English, drive the sense that the 360 dash is haphazardly bolted on top of something never intended to carry it. It's not only disrespectful to users who pay Microsoft richly for the privilege of using their games service, but actually disrespectful to the legacy of the Xbox 360 console, a system that has given us some truly amazing gaming experiences.

For me, the 360 will be remembered mostly for how Microsoft drove the user experience into the ground with advertising, and did their best to disconnect me, the owner, from the content running on the system.

I can only say I'm happy Sony and Nintendo still remember they are toymakers and gadgeteers, that they must remain so to stay alive, and that they still operate on the stage of history, and not the fumbling corporate cash grab to see who can get Netflix and Facebook on their "games console" first.

Fuck you Microsoft.

Why is Innstillinger capitalized, but none of the other options?
So the top and bottom options aren't localized, but the middle option is localized to "mine fester" which translates to "My parties". Uhuh.
This search option is never localized throughout
So what's it gonna be? Søk i spill or Søk i spill?
The entire social tab seems to have escaped the localization team

For a company that charges $40k for patch submissions you'd think they gave more of a fuck about their own QA.

28 Comments
29 Comments
Edited by Sunjammer

I think it's pretty fantastic how Microsoft has continuously failed to apply any of the feedback they have received over the years regarding the Xbox 360 frontend. It started out bad but functional, and has become the modern portrait of bloat and design by committee. The crowning achievement of the previous iteration was hiding Mark of the Ninja, a Microsoft published game, behind so many steps of search and scan that people didn't realize it was available to buy, so we'll start there.

Mark of the Ninja was a highly anticipated game. It had generated a significant amount of buzz, and touched on the stealth genre, which rarely receives such lavish attention. It was on my calendar. On the day, I turn on the system, to discover ads for music, film, and DLC downloads for a game I didn't own. There was practically zero discoverability on launch day, requiring users instead to tab over to the games tab (no MotN there either), open the arcade tab, and pick it from there.

The previous dash apparently had no mechanism for delivering actual news, OR the news was curated in such a fashion that even Microsoft published games didn't bubble up to the dashboard front. As far as I can tell the latter is the case for almost every issue the 360 dash has had the past years: An emphasis on advertising over curating content tailored for the user.

It's really cool to go to the game DLC tab and "discover" nothing but advertised DLC for games I don't own you guys!

I can scarcely contain how distasteful I find the way Microsoft has handled the 360. Purchasing an expensive piece of hardware and accessories, purchasing video games at a premium - A "HD premium" of $60, one of the most self destructive things the games industry has ever done - and even paying a monthly fee for online play, Microsoft have milked the 360 userbase in a thoroughly disgusting fashion. It's the culmination of the corporate idea of "games as a service", taken to the darkest place where exactly nobody wins.

Sony offers actual games as part of its PlayStation+ service, an initiative that started out looking like an attempt at repeating the Microsoft cash grab, but has over time shown itself to be a legitimate boon to the users. Microsoft offers puny discounts (really, really puny discounts, like barely discounted DLC for age old games) and still drown you in a barrage of advertising.

Destructoid's Jim Sterling accurately summed up the abominable Kinect as being "built on a foundation of lies", and I don't feel off expanding that notion to Microsoft's entire console strategy. They have exploited every opportunity to squeeze a few extra bucks out of its user base, and their reasoning for doing so is wafer thin nonsense at best, and outright offensive at worst.

It doesn't make things better that the 360 dash, even with the most recent update, is pitiful stuff. It only takes a second to realize that the wide spread of tabs and "tiles" is hopelessly bound by the dogmas of Microsoft's Windows 8 push, and has little interest in actually servicing the user. Even the minute details, like the front-end language, for me, being in Norwegian and the system language being in English, drive the sense that the 360 dash is haphazardly bolted on top of something never intended to carry it. It's not only disrespectful to users who pay Microsoft richly for the privilege of using their games service, but actually disrespectful to the legacy of the Xbox 360 console, a system that has given us some truly amazing gaming experiences.

For me, the 360 will be remembered mostly for how Microsoft drove the user experience into the ground with advertising, and did their best to disconnect me, the owner, from the content running on the system.

I can only say I'm happy Sony and Nintendo still remember they are toymakers and gadgeteers, that they must remain so to stay alive, and that they still operate on the stage of history, and not the fumbling corporate cash grab to see who can get Netflix and Facebook on their "games console" first.

Fuck you Microsoft.

Why is Innstillinger capitalized, but none of the other options?
So the top and bottom options aren't localized, but the middle option is localized to "mine fester" which translates to "My parties". Uhuh.
This search option is never localized throughout
So what's it gonna be? Søk i spill or Søk i spill?
The entire social tab seems to have escaped the localization team

For a company that charges $40k for patch submissions you'd think they gave more of a fuck about their own QA.

Posted by believer258
Fuck you Microsoft.

I said this by moving to PC, and it was a whole lot less stressful.

Online
Posted by _Zombie_

I think it's getting to the point where I start expecting these little rants every time I log in.

Posted by MideonNViscera

Roar!

Posted by crusader8463

@believer258 said:

Fuck you Microsoft.

I said this by moving to PC, and it was a whole lot less stressful.

Shame they are trying to turn Windows into the 360 dashboard with Windows 8.

Posted by Sunjammer

@believer258: Are you on Windows 8 yet by any chance? Because they're doing this shit to the PC too.

Posted by Heartagram

@believer258: Yeah stick it to Microsoft by using your Windows PC that'll show em. =P

I dunno how big of a problem this really is. I remember in indie game the movie the Super Meat Boy guys were freaking that their game was not on the front end the day it came out even though I believe they were promised so. In the end that game sold extremely well. The iPhone app store is much worse IMO because of the sheer quantity of items. Which is why I pretty much never buy phone games. It does suck they don't help these devs out more I agree, but I think if a game is good enough people will find it.

Posted by laserbolts

I'm done with the Xbox as well. Once the new consoles come out I'm switching to PC.

Posted by hughesman

The problem in their design comes less from incompetence and more from the desire to increase ad revenue.

Either way, I haven't played my 360 in months. Partially due to the dashboard redesign but mostly because I'm just not interested in the 360 platform anymore. Much in the same way i feel Microsoft has moved away from me as their target demographic.

It will be interesting to see how the PSN store update compares. Will they move in a more ad friendly direction like 360 has or will they use screen space to surface game content?

Luckily, you have many choices when it comes to ways to play vidja games. The fact that Microsoft has moved their attention over to more casual gamers and non-gaming services all together is entirely their prerogative. Vote with your dollar and all will be right in the world.

Posted by believer258

@Heartagram said:

@believer258: Yeah stick it to Microsoft by using your Windows PC that'll show em. =P

I meant their whole Xbox thing, but I didn't even think about that. Ooops.

@crusader8463 said:

@believer258 said:

Fuck you Microsoft.

I said this by moving to PC, and it was a whole lot less stressful.

Shame they are trying to turn Windows into the 360 dashboard with Windows 8.

@Sunjammer said:

@believer258: Are you on Windows 8 yet by any chance? Because they're doing this shit to the PC too.

PC games still have free online, are still better looking and running, and still have far better sales. Apart from introducing the whole Metro look (which, if the Consumer Preview I've been running is any indication, is pretty customizable), what does Windows 8 do? The Xbox is a mess because it isn't releasing a ton of exclusives, it's slow as hell, it asks you to pay for online, the sales aren't really all that good, etc. How is Windows 8 "doing that shit to PC?"

Online
Posted by JoeyRavn

@Sunjammer said:

@believer258: Are you on Windows 8 yet by any chance? Because they're doing this shit to the PC too.

I must be doing something wrong. I don't see any ads on my Metro Start. How do I enable them?

Posted by Terramagi

@Heartagram said:

@believer258: Yeah stick it to Microsoft by using your Windows PC that'll show em. =P

I dunno how big of a problem this really is. I remember in indie game the movie the Super Meat Boy guys were freaking that their game was not on the front end the day it came out even though I believe they were promised so. In the end that game sold extremely well. The iPhone app store is much worse IMO because of the sheer quantity of items. Which is why I pretty much never buy phone games. It does suck they don't help these devs out more I agree, but I think if a game is good enough people will find it.

Mark of the Ninja got glowing reviews and is, by all testimony, among the greatest stealth games of all time.

The game sold like absolute shit on 360, to the point where it didn't even break even.

Edited by Heartagram

@Terramagi: Well to be honest with you I haven't bought it myself because it doesn't seem like my cup of tea. Maybe it just isn't a main stream game who knows? There's a game that was promoted by Apple immensely given great reviews and the game creators needed to sell like 3Mill copies the game sold like 30K. It happens sometimes.

Most horror movies that people think of as classics didn't make much when they were first put out, but have become classics over the years.

I'm not saying the dashboard doesn't suck...but I feel like the people who would buy games on XBLA already know how to get to them. Maybe I'm giving people too much credit though. You make some valid points though.

Posted by Demoskinos

Cool story bro?

Posted by hughesman

Mark of the Ninja was just released on steam (with front page and pop-up ads) so it will be interesting to see how their sales compare.

You can be sure that developers and publishers will take notice of these trends and that will undoubtedly effect their platform decisions going forward.

Posted by Dezztroy

@hughesman said:

Mark of the Ninja was just released on steam (with front page and pop-up ads) so it will be interesting to see how their sales compare.

You can be sure that developers and publishers will take notice of these trends and that will undoubtedly effect their platform decisions going forward.

Ever since Steam became good (so 5 years or so ago) it has been, by far, the best way to sell downloadable games that aren't for phones/touchscreens.

It surprises me that people still make games for XBLA/PSN.

Posted by Little_Socrates

@Terramagi: Well, not by my testimony. Mark of the Ninja is good, but I wouldn't even say it's a better stealth game than Dishonored. Far too easy, the action doesn't feel all that good, and over in four hours. Not a single level memorable enough to want to play again, either. I'd have a hard time recommending it to anybody who doesn't get much out of the demo.

@Heartagram said:

I remember in indie game the movie the Super Meat Boy guys were freaking that their game was not on the front end the day it came out even though I believe they were promised so. In the end that game sold extremely well.

That was primarily because it did go up on the dash the day it came out, Tommy was just freaking out because it wasn't already up by the time he woke up. Ed sent him a text around 2:00 saying "it's up" and spouting some early sales numbers.

I think the 360 dash has some serious problems. But it's not enough to make me angry. That localization issue would probably make me furious, though, they should really work on that.

Posted by WEB_War4

I was hoping someone would say Microsoft doesn't know I.T.

Posted by Colourful_Hippie

Microsoft Don't Care.

Edited by xMEGADETHxSLY

i like it more little tiles add more chances for games to be promoted. , i dont want to deal with drivers and stuff even though i have a good PC. i know its simple and a one time thing but nahh. Ive invested to much into the 360.

Example Above $10 bucks for a name change and more

Edited by JasonR86

It's fine. The new version is an improvement over the old version. It's not perfect but I'm fine with it.

EDIT: Sorry, the localization is very shitty. I typed before I finished reading.

Posted by PaulKemp

Great rant with some good points. Regarding the localization, cant you set the system settings to english?

Posted by living4theday258

so glad i have a ps3 and playstation +

Posted by mlarrabee

I think the latest update was an improvement in the US, although it certainly didn't fix a great number of the issues the dashboard has.

The localization in this update seems atrocious, however.

And I'll never understand why they removed the "DLC for Games You Own" section a few updates back. Yes, I can drill down on my games library and see the available DLC, but having it consolidated was very helpful. They made DLC purchases more uncomfortable!

Edited by Bawlsz

@JasonR86 said:

It's fine. The new version is an improvement over the old version. It's not perfect but I'm fine with it.

Yeah, the Games tab is closer to social and takes fewer buttons to go there and runs allot smoother, other than that, there isn't really any major problems, the previous dashboard was allot worse, mind you, I have auto-play enabled, so I just pop in a game and play, I don't spend much time on the dashboard.

Also EU PS3 has it allot worse compared to other parts, its silly because EU has allot more PS3s, it seems EU gets the shit side from both PS3 and Xbox.

Posted by OLph

The pictures show what happens when you set the language to english, for some messed up reason most of the localization is based on your account location (Seems like they can change that for you but then you'll get into trouble with your Credit Card being associated with the wrong country).

Posted by Sunjammer

@OLph: Yeah my first language is English but I live in Norway. I'm also a programmer who has done localization before, and it blows my mind that they managed to mess it up so badly. But even if it was all in Norwegian it'd still be poor; The translations are atrocious Google-translate quality nonsense.

Posted by OLph

Yes I know, I'm from Sweden and I have the same problem (The translation doesn't seem as bad as the norwegian, but it's close). I wish there was somewhere that I could send this as a bug report... If they only based the language on the language setting it would be alright.

Posted by EVO

Having recently bought Mark of the Ninja on Xbox and having to deal with the dashboard and everything I can confirm the Xbox is a pile of shit.

Take Microsoft points for example: the whole system is fucked. It exists solely to screw the consumer.

Online