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Published on March 10th, 2013 | by gareth


Why We Are Taking a Wait and See Approach To The new Xbox System

 The other day I wrote an article that explained how based on past issues with the Xbox and from what I have learned from various contacts in the industry, the PlayStation 4 would be the console that we get at launch.

Now before you go saying I am some PS 4 fanboy trying to discredit the new Xbox system and jump sales for the PS 4, let me be crystal clear on one thing. The PC is my format of choice for gaming. It has always been, and will continue to be the format that I prefer to game upon. I do understand that consoles offer a unique gaming experience as well as titles that you cannot get on the PC. So, when I write about consoles it is not out of love for one over the other, more as to why I or a staff member uses one more than another.

For reviewers, we often have to wait to find out if we will be getting a free unit, review unit, or no unit at all from the gaming companies at launch. We’ve had all three happen and most often a short supply of units is the reason given for not being able to get a system out in a timely fashion.

As a result, we have adopted the habit of pre-ordering new units to ensure that we have coverage from day one that way we can only be pleasantly surprised when a unit arrives for review purposes.

Any time you express a preference for one system over another you often become the subject of a lot of venom from supporters of the other systems. As such I am stating my concerns regarding the new Xbox system and why I have chosen to take a wait-and-see attitude with it.

For me it all comes down to trust and reliability. The first Xbox I owned would not even open the DVD tray minutes after being unpacked. This was a huge disappointment for me as I was looking forward to playing Halo 2 and I had enjoyed the review unit we had been sent to use previously. The lack of any support from Microsoft as well as the hassles we have returning it definitely left a bad taste in my mouth.

When the Xbox 360 came out we stepped up and decided to look past issue of the past and were very excited about what it offered. However once you got the second control, external hard drive, Wi-Fi connector, and other peripherals, it actually cost more than a PlayStation 3 system did. Undaunted we used the unit only to have it crash out with the infamous red ring of death two weeks later.

More hassles from Microsoft followed regarding the warranty which cost us to promptly get a refund. I waited almost a year before we got another unit and did our reviews for the games on a staffer system.

My father-in-law had expressed interest in having one so we decided to buy one for him as well as another for ourselves. My thought was that after a year surely Microsoft wold have worked the bugs out of the system and we would be able to enjoy games such as Dead Rising and other Microsoft exclusives.

Six days later the red ring of death arrived, and with it more hassles with the return and warranty. It was at that point that I swore off the system and continued to have staffers do the reviews for the system and devoted most of our console reviews to the PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii. This is not to say I was not playing the Xbox 360, I simply was playing on units owned by staff members all of whom experienced red rings of death at one time or another.

When the Kinect came out my wife was instantly taken with Dance Central after seeing it at PAX Prime. After seeing that they had a new black unit that had result most of the issues and enjoying the features that the Kinect offered, we did pick up a system a couple of years ago and it has not had any real issues for us.

That being said I think you can understand why have decided to take a wait-and-see approach to their next system. I have seen the rumored specs, spoken to people in the industry that I trust, and decided that even if the thing was capable of emitting holodeck style graphics from the Star Trek series I would be taking a wait-and-see approach to see what kind of reliability the system has as well as one type of exclusives it will offer.

I also have a real problem with the pay to play aspects of the systems. If Microsoft continues to do this, and all indications are that they will. This is a huge detriment to me. It’s not a matter being cheap it’s the principle. If I am already playing for a broadband connection in our home and office, why should I have to pay for the privilege of playing a game? Especially when said game can most often be played for free on the PC or other consoles.

Another issue for me is the reported inability to play used games. We get tons of games to review; so many that we simply cannot play them all and have to distribute them amongst the staff. However there are certain games that for one reason or another we do not get, and as such I’ve always enjoyed services such as Gamefly to allow us to provide timely reviews of titles for both the website and radio show. Losing this ability would definitely be a hindrance toward future coverage and if the exclusives are mainly limited to the Halo and Gears of War franchises they simply are not a big enough draw for me to get a new system, especially when I can see and play the games at my nephews or any staff members residence. This article compares specs of the two systems from a features standpoint. Console Features

Microsoft has since abandoned this feature due to overwhelming criticism but they have not promised not to restore the more controversial features at a later date.

This does not mean that we have written off the new system, we are going to be getting one that is never in question. The question is the timetable for us to pick one up should we not have a review unit sent to us. I want to see reliability first and foremost out of any new system. I am not going to go through the issues that we had with the past systems and I need Microsoft to show me that they can provide an innovative system that I can be assured will work right from day one and not subject me to customer service and warranty hassles when we are on deadline trying to get a review in. I want to see innovation rather than imitation. I remember years ago that it was explained to me that one of the reasons foreign cars took over in the US market was that for years the American auto industry did not listen to the requested consumers and told them essentially that they know better and this is what you want. They did not listen to people telling them how important thing such as fuel economy, smaller sizes, and reliability and were they essentially told the new thing take it or leave it. Well consumers left it and the US auto industry needed numerous government bailouts to stay afloat.

I also want to see exclusive titles that I will want to play. I played the first two Halos on PC and all subsequent ones on the Xbox 360 as well as all of the Gears of War games to date. Although fun and at times impressive, they are not enough reason for me to personally justify the cost of the new system especially when I can play the same games for free on a PC or other systems.

I think that Sony threw down a massive gauntlet and perhaps Microsoft needs to make their announcement sooner rather than later as E3 in June might be too late to lift the lid off the new system. I’ve had a few people in recent days tell me that they believe that Microsoft did not expect Sony to make their announcement when they did, nor did they expect them to be available to market as early as this November. As such they were unprepared for a response and may be debating internally about delaying the launch of the system so that they can tweak it. Regardless of what corporate conversations are and when the new system is to be announced, it is clear that a new direction is what is needed.

Microsoft is facing its biggest challenge yet, they need to create system that will address concerns of the past as well as show that they are going to be a major player going forward. They made a huge mistake with the HD DVD technology and reportedly have had to pay big to license the Blu-ray technology for their new system. I’ll be very curious to see what they have in store for us because two strong systems competing with one another is a win-win for gamers everywhere; I’m just simply choosing to take a wait-and-see attitude first based on my previous experiences with their consoles.


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About the Author

Syndicated movie & game critic, writer, author and frequent radio guest. His work has appeared in over 60 publications worldwide and he is the creator of the rising entertainment site and publication “Skewed and Reviewed”.He has three books of film, game reviews and interviews published and is a well-received and in demand speaker on the convention circuit. Gareth has appeared in movies and is a regular guest on a top-rated Seattle morning show.He has also appeared briefly in films such as “Prefountaine”, “Postal”. “Far Cry”. and others. Gareth is also an in-demand speaker at several conventions and has conducted popular panels for over two decades.

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