May 8th, 2008
For some months now I have been continuously asked if I would like to write for someone’s Xbox 360 website. They’d seen my work on the blog and thought that it’d be great if I could contribute articles to their site. Unfortunately I disagreed with them for two reasons, most importantly I do not own and don’t plan on buying an Xbox 360 (the other being that I don’t like to write about press releases :(). While talking this over with my brother later on we generated some strong discussion justifying our lack of interest in the 360. Here are some of our main points.
NB: I don’t intend to disregard or downplay the Xbox 360 at all because in most regards it is a fantastic console and deserves the attention that it has garnered. I am writing this piece to show why, for me personally, in my situation why there is very little incentive in owning the console.
The Xbox Experience = PC Gaming on your TV
(Two points in One)
When the original Xbox as first announced many gamers were of the opinion that the predominate orientation of software design would be essentially derived from PC game design and in some ways it did. Since it’s conception I have had and still maintain this view about the console and its successor. The multimedia features, online play and software line all are largely lifted straight from the PC. This isn’t to say that these points are in anyway bad for the console, in reality this has allowed Microsoft to chase a particular type of consumer and has paid in dividedens.
Not all of the reasoning for this can be placed on Microsoft’s shoulders. Many popular PC publishers are now resorting to console ports to meet their bottom line and generally speaking this by large has effected console game development significantly.
For some reason, as people have become more accustomed to the Xbox consoles, the previous negative connotation seems to have disappeared over the years. This, in my opinion works in converse to these systems slowly taking the role of multimedia PC.
To justify my points if we focus on software for a second and take a look at the “must play” games for the Xbox 360 we see that that a good majority of these games have their own relationships with the PC:
- Gears of War
- Halo 3
- Mass Effect
- The Orange Box
- Call of Duty 4
Three of those games are ports (BioShock, Call of Duty 4, Orange Box) and the rest are all heavily inspired from PC styled games. Furthermore the first three games have been ported to the PC or are very likely to end on the PC in some form or another. Also if we browse over the Xbox 360 games catalogue it is clear that there is a lack of platformers, fighters and RPGs. In fact it is common knowledge that the 360 houses mostly FPS or action heavy titles. So there is definitely a slant towards these sorts of games which are also dominant on the PC, combine this with the steady stream of PC ports and it becomes clear that the Xbox 360 software line up is surprisingly similar to the PC’s.
My second point is in relation to the features available from the Xbox 360 user interface, Xbox Live and online play is a significant part of the system. So too is the conglomerate of multimedia features; being able to download movie and game trailers, chat with friends, play music, view photos and synch this together with digital devices. These features push the same idea of the multimedia PC.
So what is wrong with a PC in your living room? Well nothing, it is a great idea. But as someone whom can be regarded as a power use of the PC (how can most Uni students not fall victim to this?) there is little benefit for owning an additional device to do the same thing just underneath my TV set. If I want to view my photos that I take (I am interested in photography) that I like to organise them in on place on my computer. When I browse the net I also like to write articles, chat with friends, research, listen to music so doing all of this in a different environment is difficult and when there are no real obvious advantages that can be seen, why would I dedicate my time into growing accustomed to a new platform? If I want to play games that are generally speaking made for the PC in which I can play on the PC, then why do I need to buy another device to do that for me? And if you answered that question with a control pad then allow me to remind you that the Xbox 360 controller can be used in tandem with PC games on a Windows OS. So when the dust to settled there is little premise for me to show an interest.
Xbox Live is an awesome, fantastic service that far exceeds anything that Sony or Nintendo will be able to release in the next 6 years. I firmly believe that this will be the case. Unfortunately I simply don’t have the time nor interest to sit down and play most online games. I already have an expansive collection of games to plough through so even if I did have the time my online lifestyle would probably be quite limited. Going back to a previously mentioned point, if I were to play online on the Xbox 360 then why would I again limit my competitive edge with a controller over a key board and mouse? I’ve also said all of this avoiding the bad reputation of the Xbox 360 community.
A Console Experience
Returing back to the first point, there are only a handful of Xbox exclusive games that I’d personally be interested in that aren’t already available on the other consoles. Perfect Dark Zero, the OddWorld games are honestly all that I can think of. Conversely most of the console games that I am interested in and also grew up on can be found on either the Playstation 3 or Wii. There are just more titles on these consoles which are more akin to my taste. I hate to typecast but the Xbox 360 really is all about tactical military/post apocalyptic shooters which is fine but it is not particularly where my interests lie.
There is a reason why I feel this way. As previously mentioned I feel that a good deal of Xbox games are inspired/derived from PC games. Now I personally struggle to play many PC games, I just am not as interested in the design of these sorts of games. I was born into console gaming and will probably stay that way. This is why I prefer more games coming from Nintendo, Sony, their partners and when it comes key third parties like Capcom, Konami and Square-Enix, most of their content is multiplatform so there is little concern of ever missing out.
This point is quite self explanatory, basically if I want an Xbox 360 then I have to pay money and money is unfortunately a finite quantity.
What Could Change my Mind
I’m pretty much stuck in my ways now. But there is one way that I could be convinced to buy an Xbox 360 and that is the Xbox Live Arcade. The assortment of XBLA games arguably feel more like “console games” then the core software line up. There are easily more XBLA titles that I want to buy than standard games. Here are just a few games that have me salivating at the mouth for:
- Rez HD
- Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo HD Remix
- Bionic Commando Rearmed
- Pacman Championship edition
- castle crashers
- Prince of Persia
These games really do capture my imagination and are more in line with my own personal interests.
I tried to be as honest and fair in my reasoning as possible. I am not biased against the Xbox 360, the Xbox 360 just isn’t for me and I hope that this article represents that. I thought that it was important for me to share my feelings so that you readers can understand why I don’t really talk about any of the Xbox consoles. Of course, if you have a convincing argument as to why I have the wrong idea then please let it be known in the comments below.