XBOX 360: boiled frog?

I have a few mixed feelings about the XBOX 360. I don’t care that they decided to launch it on MTV, or that it’s breaking the “traditional 5 year console life cycle”, and I am impressed with the hardware specifications. However, what concerns me is the increased dependency on Microsoft as a sole service provider and the long-term plans for the XBOX platform.

XBOX 360 is a means of getting people onto XBOX Live. Microsoft gives you a single gamer tag for all your online games. This gamer tag is stored on a Microsoft server somewhere where I assume they monitor your browsing, music, and gameplay preferences to build a profile to sell you (and people like you) more things. Aside from the “big brother” aspect that may put off Linux geeks and conspiracy theorists, there is another big negative implication.

How much is your gamer tag worth? Let’s say it stores your ranking and everything you own in every online game you play. That’s the whole world to a hardcore gamer and probably many hours to a casual gamer. Who owns your gamer tag? It’s held by Microsoft. It’s in a proprietary format. You can’t take it with you to other platforms. If game progress and reputation are the only currency in the online gaming world, Microsoft is the central bank and the only way to access your account is through the XBOX platform.

Microsoft isn’t the only player in online gaming, but they clearly hope to be, with all games required to store their information in a Microsoft format on a Microsoft server. This is exactly why EA supported the PS2’s online model and took so long to finally offer support for XBOX Live. XBOX may aim to change the world, but some things won’t change: Sony makes hardware, Nintendo makes games, and Microsoft makes monopolies.

Note: I completely understand if you can’t make sense of the title. I heard the term “boiled frog” for the first time on a slashdot thread a week or so ago. There’s a good explaination here.

3 thoughts on “XBOX 360: boiled frog?”

  1. Boiled frog – that’s funny, but I do see the analogy – “boiled frog” syndrome is commonly used to justify drastic actions by comparing current conditions to the ones aaaages ago. Who would have thought that one of the biggest enemies of civil rights and liberty would be a frog that was boiled to death! If it were only smart enough to jump out…

    Anyway, I’ve read only a few reviews on XBOX, and two things come to mind:
    1. Why does XBOX not use the blue-ray DVD format instead?
    2. Are the rumours that it will not be backwards compatible really true?

    … Amer

  2. 1. No idea. They’d have to pay someone royalties (that’s why DVD video playback was an optional add-on for the first XBOX).

    2. I think that they’re trying to make it true. It’s probably very difficult because XBOX 360 is PowerPC and XBOX is x86. They bought out the guys who wrote that Windows emulator for Mac. My guess is “some” backward compatibility at launch, but not all games supported (this is the same as PS2).

  3. I think the its also because the blu-ray is still financially unfeasible to be used in the console now. It seems that M$ are desperate to get the console out ASAP, and hence optted for the dual layer DVD.

    In the end, I’m not sure about the xbox360. Technically, it looks really really good…. but I get the feeling that getting to the market first will not help as much as it did Sony with the PS2. My guess is that most people will wait to see what PS3 has got before jumping into the new M$ machine. Well, at least that’s the group of people I’m in.

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