Today was a big day for Xbox 360 owners around the world. Microsoft rolled out the Fall update, along with Xbox Originals, and announced a launch date of December 11 for the Video Marketplace in Europe and Canada. The second major Dashboard update for this year packs quite a punch with a few major features, along with a massive list of smaller fixes and additions. So, how is that disappointing?
The Same Old, Only Worse
The first thing I did when I hit the couch this morning was fire up my Xbox 360 to install the Dashboard update. About 6 seconds later (Sony needs to start taking notes) my console restarted and I was back up and running. But hold on, everything looks the same… except for that zero beside “Messages”. It looked nothing like the revised Xbox Live Blade I saw in the Gamerscore Blog’s video walkthrough. As it turns out, Inside Xbox, one of the big features being touted, is only available in select regions (US, UK and Japan). Since the Xbox Live Blade was revised to fit a button that doesn’t exist in some regions, they opted to leave the Messages and Friends buttons as they were. Which is fine, except now even if you have no messages, the count is displayed. More of an annoyance than anything, and totally feels like a step backwards.
Profiles have been update a bit, and now include your real name, location and bio, along with your motto which was previously available. All of this information is optional and privacy settings can be locked down to keep them hidden, only show to friends or share with everyone. Apparently I was mistaken in thinking that I would be able to change the view on my Friends List to show real name in place of gamertag. I thought I had read that somewhere, but can’t find any mention of it in the Dashboard. This new info is definitely welcomed as a person’s gamertag and motto often don’t tell you much about them. I did find something to complain about here, though. When you click on a person in your friends list and the guide pops out to display their info, it used to display their Country and motto under their gamercard. If you look closely, the Country is displayed for a split second when the guide opens, but is quickly covered by the motto. Personally, Country is of more interest than motto and I’m really unsure of why they would hide it all together. There’s plenty of room to display both.
Xbox Originals are Here
Announced a few weeks back, Xbox Originals would launch along side the Fall ’07 Dashboard update. A handful of heavy hitters were announced for day-one and a lot of people seemed to be excited about this. I never got around to playing Indigo Prophecy and thought that I would download it and give it a go during the next slow streak. That was, until I saw the pricing. 1200 MS points will get you a full original Xbox game. Doesn’t sound like much, right? 1200 points converts to $19.19 CDN at today’s exchange rate. I could go out and buy any of those games for no more than $15, and probably find most of them in a bargain bin or used at a rental store for under $10. If you agree that this is too much to ask for these games, then let your voice be heard and don’t buy a single one of them.
Video Marketplace on the Horizon
It’s hardly fair to knock a service that is yet to launch, but I’m going to anyway. Just as Xbox Originals are over-priced, video “rentals” are through the roof!
Standard definition movies go for 310 points ($4.96 CDN), while HD versions are a whopping 460 = $7.36 CDN. Update: An FAQ was just posted on Xbox.com detailing the Canadian Video Store and the prices they had previously announced were for “library” aka older titles. New releases are priced at 460 points (SD) and 610 points (HD). $9.75 CDN for a new release! Un-fucking-believable! I can go to my local video store and rent an HD DVD or Blu-ray movie for around $6 and keep it for 2 weeks without any late charges, watching it as many times as I’d like in that time. The only argument I can see that could possibly justify these prices is to think of those that might not be within driving distance of a video store.
Unfortunately, pricing is only half the upset. Unlike the European video store which has a pretty stellar line-up of launch titles, the Canadian store gets the lamest of the lame, with very few exceptions.
- Babylon 5, The Lost Tales: Voices in the Dark
- Lucky You
- Homie Spumoni
- Wiggles: Getting Strong!
- Believers (UNRATED)
- Return to Haunted Hill (UNRATED)
- The Reaping
- License to Wed
- In the Land of Women
- A Dennis the Menace Christmas
- OceanÃƒÆ’Ã‚¢Ãƒ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚¬Ãƒ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚¢s Thirteen
- December Boys
- Enter the Dragon
- EverybodyÃƒÆ’Ã‚¢Ãƒ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚¬Ãƒ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¾Ã‚¢s All-American
- The King and I (1999)
- Krush Groove
- The Man with Two Brains
- The Neverending Story
- Risky Business
- Wyatt Earp
- Borderline Cult
- Air Guitar Nation
- The Condemned
- Delta Farce
- A Few Days In September
- Pirates of Ghost Island
- Cutting Class (1989)
- Texas Chainsaw Massacre
- Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
- Henry 2: Portrait of a Serial Killer
- Spider Baby
I don’t even have anything else to say on this topic.
Xbox Live is Unavailable. Please Try Again Later
If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I’ve been playing a lot of Halo 3 multiplayer with my wife and daughter lately. Hannah (daughter, 9) is really hooked and asking me to play with her a couple times a day. She only has a Silver account, so she logs in as a guest and we play split-screen over Xbox Live. I’ve played so much lately that I’m totally starting to feel guilty about other things I’ve been neglecting. So, I figured I could get her an Xbox Live Gold account and pay monthly for as long as she’s interested in playing online. I made my way over to Account Management and proceeded to order the membership, when I was greeted by a generic error, “Xbox Live is Unavailable. Please Try Again Later”. Strange, since we were just playing Halo 3 online. I thought it might have something to do with the Xbox Live settings on her child account, so I proceeded to adjust them. As soon as I got to the login screen, the error popped up again. I figured there was something going on with the server and it could be related to the pending Dashboard update, so I left it.
This morning after the update, I tried again and received the same error. After troubleshooting for a while, I determined that the email address I used for Hannah’s Windows Live ID is no longer associated with it. Assuming this is going to be a nightmare of an issue to get sorted out with Xbox Support, I’ve taken the first step by emailing my issue and hoping for an eventual response. There’s no way I’m taking this to phone support, unless I can get it escalated to someone who can speak english fluently. In the mean time, I think I’m going to set Hannah up with a temporary account so she can play Halo 3 online without losing all gamerscore.
To top this day off, Xbox Live has been suffering massively in the performance department all day. Even now, when I go to Xbox.com while logged in, I’m greeted with, “Sorry, this page is unavailable.” Which I guess is a step up from the constant “runtime errors” and default server config pages I was seeing earlier.
And Now, Something Out of the Ordinary
I’ve got such a bad taste in my mouth from all things Xbox that I decided I need a bit of a break from it. I picked up Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune for the PS3 tonight and am really looking forward to getting into it. The demo was fantastic and I’ve listened to the soundtrack 3 times today. With Unreal Tournament 3 coming out next week, and a map pack for Warhawk before the holidays, my PS3 might finally be getting some steady use.