Sunday, May 22, 2005

Why the Xbox is for Suckers

I've been playing Video Games since the golden age, Atari 2600, Commodore 64 and of course the original Nintendo. At some point I've played every mainstream system. Including oddities like the Magnavox Odyssey 2, Collecovision, Atari Lynx (light years ahead of the Gameboy) and the TurboGraphx 16. With each successful generation I've evaluated and purchased what I considered to be the best and most versatile system. I'm not one to buy two or three of the mainstream gaming systems since I consider this a waste of money and completely unnecessary. A good gaming PC and one solid pure gaming console will satisfy just about everyone's gaming needs. Since each has it's advantages and disadvantages depending on the type and genre of game being played. The hybrid PC/Gaming console (Xbox) has managed to sucker in those who do not know any better.

Power vs. Price:
The argument about the power of gaming consoles to PCs by price is true on the initial release year of said console. If you have been following consoles and there roughly 5-6 year cycle per generation, you will see how quickly PCs have been able to eclipse the mightiest of them. Either way I am not denying this. Consoles have their place and I understand this and have owned one each generation. Just don't kid yourself on power; future proofing is a marketing gimmick. PC power will surpass any console within the first to second year of their release. Now looking at the specifications of all the new consoles (Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo) they ALL look to be powerful and feature filled. Specifications aside, the titles in the end will determine any consoles success. The wise decision would be to wait until you can evaluate the titles for each system instead of impulse buying based on something like a tri-level CPU core design and hoping the games takes advantage of it.

Nintendo introduced the first decent console controller with the NES. Sega included a solid one with the Genesis and Nintendo made an even better one with the SNES. The true breakthrough came with Sony's original Playstation controller, a design so successful that its dual shock hybrid only under went minor changes (pressure sensitive buttons) to carry on with the PS2. The Xbox however initially introduced a monstrous controller with horrendous button placement. Somehow systems were sold like this? Did anyone test this before buying the Xbox? Did even Microsoft spend more then $50 on controller design? The Xbox 360's controller looks to rectify that original bad decision by including a better-sized design with a slightly better layout. Regardless it doesn't look to hold a candle to Sony's comfortable design that has been upgraded to an even sleeker sexier one with the PS3. Sony out of the big 3 is the only one to, in my opinion, keep the more logical layout of D-pad and analog controllers, positioning the D-pad level with the main buttons and both analog controllers below them.

And the point of this is? Simple the original Playstation controller was the single biggest reason I purchased a PS1 after owning my SNES. (Well that and Sega's history of dumping console support midstream.) The moral is to test all the consoles controllers before making a decision.

Why I will never buy an Xbox:
To understand why, you have to understand what the Xbox is:

The Xbox is nothing more then a glorified PC running a proprietary Microsoft Operating System with proprietary PC game titles.

Games that for no other reason then some coding routines or copy protection could run easily on the PC. Especially since they are already! As if this was not insult enough Microsoft has the audacity to charge you a monthly subscription (Xbox Live) to play multiplayer games over your broadband connection you already pay for? Yet the same PC game title running on your PC would be free to play multiplayer. Do you see the problem here? Since the Xbox is a PC why can it not play PC titles and visa-versa? Why are you being charged extra for multiplayer features of a title that if run on a PC would be free? Why? Because Microsoft thinks you are suckers.

Update: The Xbox 360 looks to introduce a new feature parents need to take notice to. Xbox Live will include a Live "Marketplace" that will let players purchase add-ons to games such as new levels. Updates and new levels to games on a PC are downloaded free of charge. You can also purchase Demos? Please, how much of a sucker are you to pay directly just for game Demos? Demos are free to download on a PC I might add. Hum, so now little Johnny will be able to run his parents credit card up with payments added conveniently to the Xbox live monthly bill no doubt. I don't think so, sucker someone else Microsoft.


Andrew said...

It uses a PowerPC instruction set based CPU, it is NOT a PowerPC CPU. Regardless Microsoft has obviously ported Windows to run on this. Microsoft used to have support back with NT and they looked to have added it once again. Keep in mind that with DirectX the software doesn't have to know what the hardware is to run on it. Anything run on DirectX on an Xbox can run on a regular PC. Now it looks like you can add the PowerPC platform to the mix.

As for price, $5000 is absurd, Microsoft will surely take a hit on the hardware but also remember the system is only coming with 512MB of RAM so roughly $1000 makes more sense.

Mark said...

As for the current generation xbox, which I think you are addressing in your diatribe, I own one and I am NOT a sucker. Let me preface this all by saying I'm a diehard Nintendo fan, have owned all their consoles, and still pay top dollar for their AAA titles on release day. I also purchased a Playstation in it's launch year, but got rid of it shortly thereafter. The xbox is much better than a PC: (1) I do not have the time nor money to keep upgrading a pc's video card nor architecture in order to support the latest and greatest fo the video game world. Owning a standard console keeps the onus on the developers to worry about compatibility and system support. (2) Until you've actually owned an xbox, modded the hard drive, run your games off the hard drive (for super fast load times and convenience), and played with applications like XBMC which give you the power of a Windows Media Center in a $300 box, leave the name -calling to the experts and write about stuff you know.

Andrew said...

All owners of the original Xbox are suckers for buying into a glorified PC. I've used the Xbox over the years and have had plenty of time to evaluate it. Microsoft simply took people for a ride and made money in the process, who can blame them when so many people would bite.

I love how people speak of "Modding" and Xbox to run games off the HD, something a PC does natively, it always cracks me up. My second favorite is the server argument, please, check on Ebay how much PC you can get for the price of a new Xbox.

Mark said...


Spec and price me out a box that runs Windows Media Center (including the price of the OS) and we'll see who's a sucker. Check eBay indeed...

One thing I do agree on is that Microsoft has offered NO innovation with this current generation of hardware. They simply jumped on the backs of all the hard work that Nintendo and Sony (plus Sega) did over the years. I am no Microsoft fanboy, and it took me a while to realize the value of an xbox because of my bias. However, I'm thrilled that I have one now considering how much power is unleashed by modding.

fearmattdotcom said...

j00 = Sony fanboy.
That controller looks painful to use.
And yes, the CPU is a PowerPC style chip. What everyone is forgetting is that both the 360 and PS3 will have PowerPC CPUs... the major difference here is that one is a triple core CPU, and the other is a single core with SPEs, all on one die.

Andrew said...

The Xbox 360 has very little in common with Windows XP Media Edition. It is more of a glorified media player then anything else.

Yes consoles have their place (notes in the article) and people who buy consoles in general are not suckers only those who bought the Xbox and pay for Live.

Kevin said...

"The Xbox is nothing more then a glorified PC running a proprietary Microsoft Operating System with proprietary PC game titles"

So what is the PS2 then? or the Game Cube? Are they not just as proprietary? Geez!! It all comes down to this... XBOX and XBOX live are all about a turn-key solution to gaming. Yes you can play many of the same titles that you can run on an xbox on a PC online for free, but that's not the point.

Andrew said...

The PS2 and Gamecube do not run a custom version of Windows 2000 nor use DirectX as a developement platform. Niether use PC Hardware wrapped in a blackbox.

Kevin said...

So what does that mean? You can't argue with Microsoft for wanting to prevent people from running PC games on there system. Why? Because they are a business and want to make money. No different from Sony. I could argue that Sony is just as bad at as Microsoft with regards to making proprietary solutions to serve themselves. Hello! digital 8, memory stick, even good old beta is an attempt by Sony to have a closed architecture so they can license the tech. Listen I have all three current generation consoles they are all good for different reasons. But to say that people are suckers for buying an Xbox because they have to pay for the games or pay to play online is just plain dumb. Have you tried Xbox Live? If not then you should try it and let me know why you don't think it's a worth a mere $5/month. It's a very polished experience and is worth the money. You can probably dig through your couch and find enough each month to cover the cost ;)

Andrew said...

I think people are suckers for buying a glorified PC hidden as a console. Paying for Live to play "PC games" online just adds to stupidity. I at least understand Sony and Nintendo since their systems have next to nothing to do with PCs.

Andrew said...

I purchased a PS2 for the games and the controller.

The difference between the Xbox and a PC is minimal at best, both use DirectX and you can practically port it directly. They usually spend time adding features to the PC version.

E-bean said...

Seriously, you shouldn't go shouting things like this withiout a proper defence..

Gamble says it all, amen.

Andrew said...

"You bought a console for the pad, not for the games?"
->Game quality at the time was similar, each system had its own better titles. The game controller however was so intelligently designed there was no contest.

"Some more coding routines and it runs on the PS2 or on the Gamecube."
->No it can't. The difference between the Xbox and PC is minimal both are written in DirectX, with the PS2 and Gamecube it requires much more work.

"Indeed, when the same game works online on the PC, on the Xbox (with some monthly fees) and not online on the PS2."
->This article is not about online multiplayer support on the PS2. I wouldn't Pay for multiplayer on the PS2. The difference is I am smart enough to know when I am being had.

"Get some updates and have a look at cable/satellite decoders."
->Are you implying that their are cable and satellite systems with marketplace like features but NO parental controls? I don't think so.

"Sony was the first to sell a beta version of Star Wars Galaxies, that says it all."
->Star Wars Galaxies offered a Free Trial for the game. If you are so nieve that you purchased a BETA instead of waiting for the free Trial then it explains why you would purchase an Xbox.

"Ever heard about the internet?"
->Inept parents let their children use the internet unsupervised.

"I wonder who really is a sucker here."

All easily disputed.

Andrew said...

Personal attacks will be removed. Please read the article next time.

Andrew said...

No I think Xbox users are suckers for not understanding what an Xbox is nor how easy it would have been for Microsoft to unify consoles with PCs, instead they just took a PC and a PC OS and made a proprietary setup that people who are clueless what it really is would fall for and did.