Grumpy Gurevitz: Call to a New Console! Modern Stupidity

Thats Right - I got the Limited Edition One! Does This mean I get a limited edition RROD too?

That's Right - I got the Limited Edition One! Does This mean I get a limited edition RROD too?

Buying a console is not as easy as it used to be, or as it should be.

In the old days we didn’t have backwards compatibility to worry about. Nor did we really have to worry about ‘content’ and save games as the consoles either didn’t offer it or it was a simple case of buying a cheap memory card.

Not so now. Consoles, as with almost all technology, offer more than ever but hide it behind multiple layers of complexity and ‘rules’. My most recent run-in with the current reality of console owning revolved around the launch of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. I was originally going to get this game for my PS3. I own an Xbox 360, but to be honest it’s the original core version (it hasn’t died yet) and unless it’s a game only on that console (such as a Halo title) I almost always buy the PS3 version. Why? Because when you switch my 360 on it sounds like someone is standing in front of me hoovering. It’s that loud.

So, as my birthday is coming up (end of November, if anyone wants to send a present) I asked my wife to pre-order and get me a limited edition copy of the game. Not the version with the goggles, that seemed a bit mad (but tempting). Instead the one just below. My wife being, well… my wife, didn’t actually understand that Limited Edition might mean that it’s going to be limited. Consequently when, having asked her if she had pre-ordered it, I learnt she had not, I checked to see if one could and we were told ‘no’. She had buggered up my present (not for the first time I should add as we almost didn’t get the limited edition of Fable 2).

Hence I was over the moon when they announced the limited edition 250gb Xbox360 coming with the game. I knew that if I put some money in along with other family members, it could be a viable present! I asked my wife to pre-order it, but based upon my previous experience told her I would sort it out. I laid a deposit with my local GAME (the St Albans branch run by a guy called Ian, who makes a big effort for customers).

When I got home I passed my proof of receipt to my wife, and explained how important it was she kept it. I also told her that she would not have to pay full price as I had already laid down a small deposit, but that on the day itself I would present her with my old Xbox, controllers and some old games I don’t play for a part exchange. Simple enough you would think.

This all happened way back in September or thereabouts. I suddenly realised though that I had a problem. How would I get my old data onto my new machine? I emailed Microsoft who told me about the data cable. The only problem was that the data cable can’t be ordered until you have the serial numbers of both machines. Additionally you can’t use it unless you have both hard drives. This in effect kills the whole point of a part exchange. Lets be clear here, the type of console I’m getting must surely being bought by ‘upgraders’, and not first time buyers. Ian did say he might consider allowing me to part ex the console and drive, but allow me to hold onto the drive for a week; but as it takes Microsoft 5-10 days to send out the cable, it doesn’t leave much room for error.

Incidentally, Ian empathised with me as as he too had ordered one and was in the same situation. Clearly in terms of save games, a memory card would do – however they often cost £10+ and what’s the point of spending money on one to use once? So I called GAME themselves as they are the exclusive retailer for this product. It would make sense that a senior buyer might be able to chat to their counterpart at Microsoft UK and organise a solution. No luck there. They seemed unable or unwilling to do anything.

So I called Microsoft UK. I ended up having a strange conversation where I pointed out to the ‘team leader’ I was chatting to, that by having the consoles ship with the transfer cables that it would save them money. They said ‘but how do we know how many cables to ship’ and I pointed out that as almost all those purchasing this unique console were upgrading, then probably it would be a 1-1 take up. Additionally as we have to lay down deposits, GAME would actually have a name and face linked to each console. Lastly, it would save Microsoft money as the consoles have to be delivered to the shops anyways and it removes the extra cost for them to send out the data cable in the post (they use UPS). You think anything happened?

Shes a natural with those accessories.

She's a natural with those accessories.

It’s worrying when a stranger knows how to run a business better than the people that work there, but on this issue I really think Microsoft are missing a trick. Why they insist on this cable in the first place is daft. Yes they want us to buy memory sticks and also they want to make it hard for people to pirate games and hack their systems. However, go on the internet and it would seem that those that really do want to hack their systems can and do. So all Microsoft are achieving is winding up legitimate customers like myself. Similar to the way Sony insists on wiping all internal PS3 Hard Drives!

Anyway it comes to the night of the 9th, launch night. I’m not going down to the store at midnight but I’m excited as the next day (today, as I write this actually) I’m pumped, and ready to get my console. I have called up and my new best friend, Ian, has confirmed its there. He reminds me about the receipt, and I say ‘don’t worry, my wife has it’. Originally it was going to be her alone who went to get the console, to make up for the mistake with the previous attempt of organising a birthday present. After all it’s the making the effort to organise and get one which is what makes presents special, not just throwing money at one.

Two new problems presented themselves. My wife had lost the receipt.

i cant separate them now.

i can't separate them now.

Additionally once I reminded her about the part exchange plan she exclaimed ‘h-h-hold on a minute, what do you mean “part-exing”?! You can’t expect me to do this!’ I looked at her and could see complete confusion and dismay and hence I decided to support my wife in her hour of need and accompany her to the shop, to see Ian. Lucky for all concerned I had planned to work from home that day, to do my accounts (yup, playing the game would have to wait till the evening!). We schlepped a box of cables, console parts and games to GAME and it would have been quite a task for my wife to make sense of it all, what with her not being a gamer.

I still had not worked out what to do about my saved data, but having gone through it all, I managed to write off a lot of it and settled on the saved games which meant the most to me and of course my gamer profile.

Once at the store we saw Ian (who was wearing a very realistic Royal Marine helmet). He forgave us for losing the receipt and just needed a form of ID, which was no problem. They also had a memory card lying around for £8, which by now I had decided would probably be a good investment in case I needed to go through this all again in the future! I part exchanged my old console and controllers but kept the 20gb hard drive. When I got home I quickly stuck the old hard drive on the new console, moved the data to the card, swapped over the hard drives again and moved the data off the memory card to the new 250gb drive. What a nonsense! I’ll now have tons of Game Reward points and can still part ex the old drive by itself. So I’ll be getting Assassins Creed 2 for almost nothing. Something to look forward to!

Never Call my wife for technical support. Mind you, she does know how to put borders around boxes in word or powerpoint.

Never Call my wife for technical support. Mind you, she does know how to put borders around boxes in word or powerpoint.


So as we come to the end of this saga, where are we? Well we have a new console. It looks cool. Its very quiet. They have certainly improved things in that department. Additionally I have two lovely colour matching controllers and a new headset. Most importantly my wife agreed to assist in the customary ‘unboxing’ ceremony us gamers go through. Indeed she modelled the process, as you can see by the pics.

But I really think buying a console should be easier than this, for all concerned. After all, if you can’t buy a console without needed lessons or support from someone else, then it really has become too complex for the layperson to be expected to become a console owner in the future. Certainly it’ll mean no surprise birthday presents for gamers, as we will need to take our loved ones through the process!


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Written by Steven G

Steven Gurevitz is the CEO of 2002 Studios Media LTD and a founder of gaming accessory company Asiiya. 2002 Studios started off as a music production company, but produces a range of content from videos to videogames. The company specialises in localizing content for global brands.

He also owns the Urban Sound Label, a small niche e-label. He is a freelance music tech writer, having co-written the Music Technology Workbook and is a regular contributor and co-owner CriticalGamer.co.uk. He enjoys FPS, Third person ‘free world’, narrative driven and portable gaming.
He is a freelance music tech writer, having co-written the Music Technology Workbook and is a regular contributor to CriticalGamer.co.uk.

4 comments

  1. Sid Wright /

    Perhaps everyone should write to Microsoft asking for a “Hassle” rebate?

  2. Anthony H /

    Jumping through that many hoops to transfer data seems like quite the pain, I never realised it was that hard. I remember when having to send off a PS3 because the Blu Ray player packed up, all that needed to be done to move the saves is to connect up an external USB hard drive and move the saves on to that. All you need to do then is keep the saved data information in this Limbo like state until the new console arrives and then just put it back on. Isn’t that simpler than making specialised data cables?

  3. Money grabbing proverbials…

  4. It seems that with every new generation of consoles, more and more problems appear. You would have thought that they would have universal data cables as well but no. I have a cable lying around the house which is only compatible between a 20gb harddrive and a 250gb harddrive.

    I’ve always thought that it would make a lot of sense to simply give players a few gb of online storage space as a safety net for save game data.

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