Hating to love the Xbox 360

I got a 360 at release, and I loved it… to begin with. Three years, five RRoDs and two consoles later, I’d finally had enough. I had nothing against the console per se; my problem was with the fact that Microsoft had clearly rushed an unfinished, unacceptably unreliable product to market. Initially – many people choose to forget this – they even denied that there was a problem at all. The number of consoles crashing was “a small minority” that was no more than “normal” for a new machine. They would see no more of my money, I cried! Damned if I’ll even consider their next console, I declared (much to the consternation of the people around me at Sainsbury’s).

But I’ve finally relented. I’ve asked for a new fangled Xbox 360 S for Christmas. Why?

There are two possible explanations, I think. The first can be told in no less than 12000 words, and begins with me lamenting the fact that my soul is little more than a torrential state of avarice. I’ll gradually work up to explaining how David Hasselhoff really does deserve more credit for the part he played in the fall of the Berlin wall, the true meaning of Christmas, and several suppressed childhood memories that would be unleashed by the end of the article. The second explanation is the one I’ll go with today, however.

The good news is, it’s literally impossible for my new 360 S to get a RRoD. The bad news is that this has nothing to do with the problem being fixed; Microsoft have just changed a lightbulb. Several times since release, it’s been claimed that the latest version of the 360 has fixed the RRoD issue. ‘It doesn’t overheat so easily now’. ‘We’ve moved the processor’. ‘Everybody in the factory wears a magic hat’ and so on. The truth is that while the problem seems to have become less inevitable, it’s never going to go away.

Still, now I’m aware that I can claim free repairs for RRoD even when the warranty expires. Here in the UK we have something called the Sale of Goods Act which covers many items, including electronics, for six years from purchase. If you can prove that the problem you have with the product was present when you first bought it (easy with a 360), you can harass the retailer until they give you a refund or arrange a fix free of charge. For example, when I bought a Stereophonics album, I managed to get a refund by proving that the music on the disc was shit when I first purchased it.

"So if you multiply the square root of brand loyalty by the circumference of desire for new shiny things, you'll see that this won't be a problem!"

I must stress that this is only valid in the UK. If you live elsewhere in the world and your 360 implodes after the warranty expires, your best bet is to burn an effigy of Bill Gates on your roof and offer your supplications to Winnie the Pooh. Well, it’s more likely to get results than asking Microsoft to fix your out-of-warranty console for free.

In all seriousness though, I’ve always remained platform agnostic. I gave up on PC gaming a long time ago – too complicated and expensive for a proletarian simpleton such as myself to keep up with – but I’ve often looked on with envy at PC games I’m unable to play. Similarly, there have been many 360 exclusive titles that I’ve dribbled over longingly since abandoning the console. Now I’ll have a chance to catch up with them – and mostly at a bargain price.

Right now, I’d comfortably fit into the ‘PS3 gamer’ pigeonhole. I also own a Wii, DS and PSP (plus some retro consoles), but I spend the vast majority of my gaming time on Sony’s console. How much less time, I wonder, will I spend on my PS3 when I have my 360?

I imagine it’ll come down to considerations of online play. I now have a long list of online friends (though I only tend to play with a small number of them) for my PS3, but some of them have 360s as well. In addition, I know people in The Real World who have 360s but not PS3s, and vice versa. There’s one more thing to consider as well, from my point of view; the Xbox Live Gold subscription.

That was another big reason for me to avoid going back to the 360. I’ve never used Xbox Live. First of all, this was for the very good reason that I didn’t have an internet connection. When I eventually joined the new millennium however, I was frustrated and angry that Microsoft were charging for online play when Sony weren’t. It seemed especially bizarre given the then – widespread RRoD problem; like an angry tramp charging you £30 to break your mobile phone.

Will I buy one of these things? Will I hell. Mind you, I said the same about the console itself this time last year...

I’ve had people I know personally, who have used both PSN and Live, give me differing opinions. Some say that Live is far and away the best service, while others say that they actually prefer PSN. I’ll form my own opinion rather than wear somebody else’s, but I expect my money’s worth – which is why the subscription will factor in to my game purchases. I don’t want to pay forty quid for the privilege of a year of online play and then not make use of it.

One thing I’ve never been able to deny, even at the height of my anger with Microsoft, is that the 360 has the better controller of the two. This is because a) it has lots of pretty colours, and b) it’s comfier to hold and use, with better thumbsticks. That said, its use of AA batteries seems somewhat antiquated next to the PS3 joypad’s rechargable battery fitted as standard.

The Red Ring of Death (well, Red Dot of Death now) will be my sword of Damocles, and I still consider the Live Gold subscription to be as painful and unnecessary as a lemon tea enema. But despite all this I will, before the end of the year, be an Xbox 360 owner once more. All that remains is to decide on a Gamertag. Mr_Willpower?

I’m sure you can think of something much better.

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Written by Luke K

Luke plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He's the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value. Chances are, if you pick up a copy of the latest Official PlayStation Magazine or GamesMaster, you'll find something he's written in there. Luke doesn't have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.


  1. Kapado /

    i dont know how people find time for 2 consoles. That said, may the Church of Sony NOT protect your 360 console,from its unavoidable demise

  2. KrazyFace /

    Hahaha! “church of sony”, funny. I ALMOST got a new 360 S, but my girlfriend decided she didn’t want a new phone after all! I suppose there’s not much point in getting a 360 if you’ll never go on line with it, which is why I’ve still yet to get one (I just can’t get with the idea of paying to go online with a console!)

    I recently bought a 360 pad to use with my laptop (my fingers are not a mini contortionist troupe) to save myself some agony, and I have to say it does fit the hand well. Certianly better than those huge, empty, plastic fruit bowls MS made the first time around. Anyway, I’ll finish by saying “You’re a brave man”; because I’ve never had any real good luck, and I know if I get one it would be dead within a week!


  3. datdude /

    I was an early adopter of the 360. I’ve had to send a console back to microsoft 3 times in 4 years and after the box was out of warranty i’ve had to repair myself with the xclamp replacement and following that the 12 penny trick. I have never had so many problems from any electronic device. It is undeniably a piece of junk. And as such, I will not purchase microsoft products again if it can be avoided. As a direct result of my disgust with microsoft and their “customer service” I am now an apple computer user, not pc. And if the dummies at microsoft release another xbox I certainly will not be buying their hunk of crap, nor would I recommend it to anyone. On the contrary I tell people to run from microsoft and give sony their dollars. It will be sony, nintendo, or whoever next gen for sure. We as consumers must boycott microsoft products to let them know putting shoddy product on store shelves and then supporting it for a limited time when they know its garbage is unacceptable. They will get no more of my money, that’s for dead sure. May they rest in pieces.

  4. Nathan Six /

    Please, 360 is for noobs. It has last – gen graphics, no exclusive games and no Blu – Ray player. Why would anybody who respects themselves use the 360 for anything?

    PS3 has the GOTY 2009 in Uncharted 2, the games that get released on the 360, like Halo and Forza, are so low – quality and instantly forgettable that they got laughed out of the building at the GOTY awards. No 360 exclusive game has any quality and the GOTY awards proved that, PS3 is where the REAL games are.

  5. Easy there Nathan, while in recent history (and looking forward) the PS3 clearly has the better game line-up, and is the better piece of kit, the 360 still has a bunch of great games which you can’t get anywhere else, and a few others that you can only also get on PC. While the PS3 does everything I want and more, and appeals to me more for both offline and online play (while the 360 has arcade shooters covered, there’s actually a better range of online shooters on the PS3, often with dedicated servers for them (ie, less lag)), I’ll be getting a 360 at some stage to give Halo, Fable and Alan Wake a good run :).

  6. I have both a PS3 and an Xbox 360 plus a Wii and each have their own advantages and disadvantages.

    Whilst your always going to get fanboys on both sides of the fence I can safely say that I sit on the fence. I think the 360 is a great games console and have owned one since launch. Yes it has had its problems with rrod etc. but for the money there is no better console.

    On the other hand I also love my PS3 but didn’t get one until a few years ago. The main reason being the price and that I had no need for the none optional blu-ray function. Needless to say I gave in due to my obsession with gadgets and it gets a similar amount of use to that of my 360 although that may change in a couple of weeks when GT5 finally!!! gets it’s very very long overdue release 🙂

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