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The Ugly, Profitable Details About Xbox Live Advertising

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the nowhere-is-safe dept.

XBox (Games) 204

An anonymous reader writes "In an editorial at Penny Arcade, Ben Kuchera writes about how Microsoft's subscription-based Xbox Live platform has become an advertising cash cow — to the detriment of users who already pay for the service. Quoting: 'People who don't play video games would be forgiven if they turned on an Xbox 360 and didn't realize it was a device used to primarily play games. The first screen you see on the Xbox 360 Dashboard is often a mixture of ads for all sorts of goods and services, and many times games are in the minority of ad slots. The latest redesign increased the ad space that can be sold to advertisers, and that in turn increased this problem. Let's be clear, it is a problem. Game discovery is terrible in the current design of Xbox Live, and the usability of a system that used to be about games is suffering in order for Microsoft to make money on ads. Sadly, this issue isn't going away: Ad sales simply bring in too much money to ignore, and revenue is growing. ... I contacted Microsoft and asked how much advertising revenue impacted the profitability of the Xbox 360. "We don't share this information publicly but we can tell you that, since 2010, the advertising business has grown 142%," I was told.'"

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204 comments

So, basically ... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40643121)

With Xbox Live you pay to receive ads. With PSN, you don't pay a dime and still get online gaming.

While I'm acting smug as a PS3 owner, who doesn't have to put up with Microsoft's bullshit, I have to wonder just how much longer Sony's offering will last.

Re:So, basically ... (4, Funny)

masternerdguy (2468142) | about 2 years ago | (#40643163)

You are absolutely right my friend. I find it amazing that people will pay money to receive ads. This is why we need a non profit FOSS console that doesn't do this crap.

Re:So, basically ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40643209)

.... Or you could use a PS3 which doesn't cost money for the service and doesn't blast you with ads....

Re:So, basically ... (2)

Nadaka (224565) | about 2 years ago | (#40643425)

There are ads that load in when you connect to PSN. However, most of those ads are for games/videos you can download from PSN.

Re:So, basically ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40643831)

The point is we don't pay anything to use the PSN. Those ads are justified.

Re:So, basically ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40643869)

If I pay for a service, then I don't want to get ads as well. XBL got it wrong and since I get PSN for free, I can excuse the ads as I am not paying to be marketed to

Not new, not special (0)

sarysa (1089739) | about 2 years ago | (#40643865)

There are ads that load in when you connect to PSN. However, most of those ads are for games/videos you can download from PSN.

Same thing goes for Xbox Live. I'm an XBL user and I didn't really notice the change that much, because it's no different than what Google is doing with Android Market and what Apple does with its iOS and Mac App Stores. The great majority of ads are for games or game trailers -- Microsoft is just honest about it. ("ADVERTISEMENT" is displayed by the ads)

The blanket term for this phenomenon is "featured content", and it is indeed a coveted piece of real estate on any platform.

Re:Not new, not special (5, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#40644159)

There are ads that load in when you connect to PSN. However, most of those ads are for games/videos you can download from PSN.

Same thing goes for Xbox Live. I'm an XBL user and I didn't really notice the change that much, because it's no different than what Google is doing with Android Market and what Apple does with its iOS and Mac App Stores.

It's completely different.

Apple and Google relegate their advertising to their app stores - you know, a special place specifically designed for you to go and buy stuff? It would be the same thing, if every time you turned on your Android or iDevice, you were smacked upside the head with ad after ad, but that's not the case.

Also worth noting, Apple and Google don't charge you for the privilege.

No indie games on PS3 (2)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#40643549)

What's the PS3's counterpart to Xbox Live Indie Games (not Xbox Live Arcade)?

Re:No indie games on PS3 (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 2 years ago | (#40643587)

Minis

No public Minis SDK (2)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#40644065)

This article [ign.com] claims that it's too hard for a startup to become licensed to develop Minis. It's not like the iOS App Store, where anyone with $300 a year ($600 per 3 years for a Mac and $100 per year for a certificate) can release software.

Re:No indie games on PS3 (1)

Narishma (822073) | about 2 years ago | (#40643729)

PlayStation Mobile [wikipedia.org] .
Granted, it's still in beta and isn't yet available for PS3, but better late than never.

Re:No indie games on PS3 (1)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#40643881)

Doesn't developing for PlayStation Mobile require doing a multi-year apprenticeship in Austin, Boston, or Seattle before starting your company, just like developing for the disc or Minis or WiiWare? The Wikipedia article you linked mentions "established software houses".

Re:No indie games on PS3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40643857)

OtherOS, or the newer version where they quite generously just gave everyone their private signing keys.

Other OS is dead since 3.21 (1)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#40643895)

Other OS is dead since 3.21, and anybody who releases using the "just gave everyone their private signing keys" route to market will likely meet the same fate as George Hotz.

Re:Other OS is dead since 3.21 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40644021)

Other OS is dead since 3.21, and anybody who releases using the "just gave everyone their private signing keys" route to market will likely meet the same fate as George Hotz.

And really this is why geohotz fucked everyone over and can be simply and generically referred here-to-fore as a "sell out".

George Hotz took a settlement offer from Sony. Let's be clear about that. George Hotz pretended to care about your right to do as you please with your hardware, but settling with Sony proved my point.

Also, I would like to see that case go to court. The one where someone used the publicly available private signing keys (lol?) on old-model PS3s that have had OtherOS removed, to restore OtherOS. AFAIK that hasn't happened yet. I think most likely the details of the settlement arrangement hinges on some clause where he was using those keys to grant new-model PS3s that weren't "designed" for OtherOS new abilities Sony didn't "intend" them to have.

Re:So, basically ... (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | about 2 years ago | (#40643787)

Not after the OtherOS/rootkit debacles. Support Microsoft likely isn't a good idea, either.

Re:So, basically ... (5, Insightful)

hbean (144582) | about 2 years ago | (#40643261)

Lots of people pay for cable, and there's a ton of ads on it. Just saying.

Re:So, basically ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40643299)

Cable Channels with ads are still cheaper than premium channels without them.

Re:So, basically ... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40643407)

I'm not sure this is a perfect metaphor (though I don't know much about advertising in cable). In order to relate TV to Xbox live, you have to consider that the cable provider = Xbox live service, and cable channels = video games. With the cable advertisement system, advertisements are run on a per-channel basis, with time slots sold by the channel. The difference here is that the advertisements aren't coming in through the analogous video games, but through the provider itself, Xbox.

Re:So, basically ... (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#40643481)

There are ads sold by the cable provider as well.

Either way this is why I will not pay for cable. I will not pay to see advertising.

Re:So, basically ... (2)

DrEldarion (114072) | about 2 years ago | (#40643983)

That exists, it's called a PC.

Re:So, basically ... (1)

jazman_777 (44742) | about 2 years ago | (#40644111)

I find it amazing that people will pay money to receive ads.

Cable TV used to be ad-free.

Re:So, basically ... (0)

nthitz (840462) | about 2 years ago | (#40643253)

Enjoy your service interruptions and user information leaks...

Re:So, basically ... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40643329)

One must wonder how many IEDs and AK47s the PSN network has bought for terrorists. Those stolen credit cards are probably used for nasty things.

Re:So, basically ... (3, Insightful)

Rijnzael (1294596) | about 2 years ago | (#40643305)

I doubt Sony is going to see what Microsoft is doing as anything other than a precedent and road map for future endeavors. The only reason PSN is free is because they wanted to overcome the shocking price of the initial PS3 models and wanted to take a chunk out of Xbox Live's market share. Xbox Live is profitable, PSN is not. If PSN ever reaches comfortable profitability, you can bet they'll be doing exactly what Microsoft is. They're just as much about screwing the customer as any other company (anti-piracy rootkits anyone?).

Re:So, basically ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40643367)

Oh, no. You get ads even on the free version of Xbox Live.

And rest assured, now that the cat's out of the bag on how much money it's making everyone will be doing it next round. It's like, they could do nothing, or they could make free money. There's no downside for them.

Re:So, basically ... (1)

crazyjj (2598719) | about 2 years ago | (#40643793)

I've had both Xbox Live and PSN. And it should tell you something about how shitty PSN is that I'm still willing to pay the $5 a month for Live.

Re:So, basically ... (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 2 years ago | (#40643977)

With Xbox Live you pay to receive ads. With PSN, you don't pay a dime and still get online gaming.

While I'm acting smug as a PS3 owner, who doesn't have to put up with Microsoft's bullshit, I have to wonder just how much longer Sony's offering will last.

My PS3 is annoying in that there's an annoying ad ticker that I can'd disable (it's was controllable in OS 2, but as of 3, it's always on if it's connected to the internet - you don't even have to be signed into PSN for that).

Now, granted, the Xbox ones have gotten a bit more pervasive lately. And I'm not talking about the game ads showing new offers and deals (PSN has lots of that - it seems to default to that screen when I turn on my PS3), but the other ads. I actually got a survey about them and told them to turn off those ad spots because they were getting distracting. The game ones at least I look at (usually about new DLC, new trailers and such - gaming related)

And people talk bad about Sony... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40643137)

I didn't know the XBox did this; now I wonder if it also does all that when you got a paid subscription ?

My PS3 simply shows a nice static menu with a bar 'wave' moving up and down a little. No menu's at all. And I'm not even paying for Net access.

Re:And people talk bad about Sony... (1)

mikestew (1483105) | about 2 years ago | (#40643373)

I didn't know the XBox did this; now I wonder if it also does all that when you got a paid subscription ?

It's even in the summary: yes, paying subscribers see ads.

I don't really care about the ads per se, but that in an effort to cram more ads on the screen the stuff I actually use is buried. Most of the time it doesn't matter, I guess, since I throw a game DVD in the drive and wait for it to load.

Re:And people talk bad about Sony... (1)

mister_playboy (1474163) | about 2 years ago | (#40643675)

My PS3 simply shows a nice static menu with a bar 'wave' moving up and down a little. No menu's at all. And I'm not even paying for Net access.

I recall that ad ticker first appearing in the 3.00 firmware... it still bothers me. That was also the point at which the "PLAYSTATION 3" startup became PS3, which looks a bit out of place if you don't have a slim.

This story reminds me, however, that what Sony has done on this matter is a whole lot less intrusive than MS's choices.

Coming Soon... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40643159)

To a Windows 8 system near you. Have you seen the Video App?

Filter it. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40643165)

I was really annoyed with this when they first updated the console so the home screen was overrun with ads. I simply blocked their ad sub domain on my router. Problem solved.

Re:Filter it. (0)

masternerdguy (2468142) | about 2 years ago | (#40643251)

I guarantee you violated some kind of TOS doing that, which means they can decide to kick you off their network.

Re:Filter it. (1)

Rijnzael (1294596) | about 2 years ago | (#40643467)

Yeah, but they have contract terms that basically allow them to discontinue your service for any or no reason whatsoever, so it's not like that changes much. I suppose the only difference would be, in the case of breaches of contract, you wouldn't get a refund.

Re:Filter it. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40643969)

I guarantee [reference.com] you violated some kind of TOS doing that, which means they can decide to kick you off their network.

I highly doubt that. Can you show us the part of the TOS [xbox.com] which says this? If not, what's your guarantee for?

Re:Filter it. (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 2 years ago | (#40643309)

You are a genius, I will do that this very day.

Is that legal (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40643431)

It might be a TOS violation which might be difficult for MS to detect, but aren't there some parts of the US where this could be considered socialism or "disobedience of the lord". It actually sound like a pretty good idea, but I'd just assume not have a visit from the police. :/

Re:Is that legal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40643855)

but aren't there some parts of the US where this could be considered socialism ...

Socialism? Seriously?

but I'd just assume not have a visit from the police. :/

Tinfoil hat a little snug today?

Re:Filter it. (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about 2 years ago | (#40643575)

Have you got the address so the more lazy among us can block it too?

Re:Filter it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40643667)

I'm at work right now, so I don't have immediate access to it. Check back here in 2hrs if no one else has posted it.

Re:Filter it. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40643747)

rad.msn.com
msnvidweb.vo.msecnd.net

Re:Filter it. (4, Interesting)

Dahamma (304068) | about 2 years ago | (#40643789)

What makes it even more annoying is that there were *2* primary reasons for the Xbox Dash redesign:

1) make it 100% Kinect-accessible
2) promote content more (much of it paid) and increase advertising space

So, they changed the fairly decent previous Xbox Dashboard to something designed around products I don't want to see and a UI navigation mechanism I don't want to use. For the vast majority of users out there who just want to use a controller to play a game or watch a movie, it's a major step backwards in usability.

Re:Filter it. (2)

demonbug (309515) | about 2 years ago | (#40643841)

What makes it even more annoying is that there were *2* primary reasons for the Xbox Dash redesign:

1) make it 100% Kinect-accessible
2) promote content more (much of it paid) and increase advertising space

So, they changed the fairly decent previous Xbox Dashboard to something designed around products I don't want to see and a UI navigation mechanism I don't want to use. For the vast majority of users out there who just want to use a controller to play a game or watch a movie, it's a major step backwards in usability.

Hmm, reminds me of a certain other MS product... what's it called... oh yeah, Windows 8.

Hey, let's redesign our UI specifically for an interface that 95% of our customers don't use! Brilliant!

Re:Filter it. (1)

Torodung (31985) | about 2 years ago | (#40643999)

So, they changed the fairly decent previous Windows 7 desktop to something designed around products I don't want to see and a UI navigation mechanism I don't want to use. For the vast majority of users out there who just want to use a desktop computer to play a game or watch a movie, it's a major step backwards in usability.

Hmm. With substitutions in place, I'm detecting a disturbance in the force...

What exactly is suffering? (3, Insightful)

jeffy210 (214759) | about 2 years ago | (#40643177)

So what is exactly is suffering for gaming? Has the hardware been gimped? Can you not just pop a game in and play it? The XBox is being slotted as a media platform, not just a gaming platform and it seems to be doing that rather well, just look at the sales. Just because it's not the uber-hardcore gaming machine you're expecting does not make it bad. If you really want that go build a PC. But as long as it plays games and you still have access to game content, all while providing additional entertainment and media options, I fail to see the issue.

To be honest, I use mine mainly for Netflix and other media related options. Occasionally I do play a game, so it fits perfectly for me. It's no longer just a "gaming console".

Re:What exactly is suffering? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40643265)

It's just seems harder to get access to games and look and explore the XBLA for possible purchases if you're bombarded with ads for TV shows, EA sports game and mountain dew ads.

Re:What exactly is suffering? (1)

Narcocide (102829) | about 2 years ago | (#40643359)

To be honest, I use mine mainly for Netflix and other media related options. Occasionally I do play a game, so it fits perfectly for me. It's no longer just a "gaming console".

Heh, but I'd say the same stuff about my Wii but not have ads.

Re:What exactly is suffering? (1)

fredgiblet (1063752) | about 2 years ago | (#40643807)

Or HD

Re:What exactly is suffering? (3, Insightful)

scot4875 (542869) | about 2 years ago | (#40643933)

Big fuckin' deal. I've had an HD TV for nearly 10 years; HD is a nice bonus, but it doesn't make a bad movie good, and the lack of it doesn't make a good game bad.

--Jeremy

Re:What exactly is suffering? (3, Insightful)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 2 years ago | (#40643555)

Well, besides the fact that it can interfere with your ability to find actual content (as others have pointed out), it's also the "frog in boiling water" problem. While it may not interfere with your ability to do what you want now, I have no doubt MS is looking at the possibility of doing things like playing unskippable ads before you can play DVDs or games, or adding ads into games (or even movies) on the fly. Anything they can do to make even more money. And so long as people have a good deal already invested in the platform (in the form of locked-in games and whatnot), people won't switch away. Whatever MS can get away with, they will do, eventually.

Living-room games (1)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#40643677)

Just because it's not the uber-hardcore gaming machine you're expecting does not make it bad. If you really want that go build a PC.

I thought the whole draw of a console over a PC was living-room games. Not enough people have a PC in the living room to convince major publishers to fund living-room games for PC. Sure, a lot of Slashdot's base does, but the living room PC market is a rounding error compared to the console market [slashdot.org] .

But as long as it plays games

That's the entire point of the article: a console doesn't "play games" if it makes it too hard for the user to find games.

Re:What exactly is suffering? (3, Interesting)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about 2 years ago | (#40643717)

Anyone with half a brain knew the 360 was another attempt at a set-top box to dominate the living room but you can't blame people for being upset when MS specfically aimed the system at "core" gamers and have now turned it into something to appeal to their mothers because it turns out those gamers aren't profitable enough in their eyes.
br / Also it's pretty fucking poor as a media machine. A desktop serves that job better. For starters the xbox is never going to have to space to hold all my ripped music and DVDs. I own easily at least 500 DVDs and some blu-rays. I need some serious space for that. Not some toy whose sole purpose is to drain my wallet.

Re:What exactly is suffering? (2)

Dahamma (304068) | about 2 years ago | (#40643821)

The focus on content/ad placement and Kinect gesture/voice support throughout the entire Dash (and all media apps) was a major step backwards in usability for navigation and discovery for the vast majority of users. Welcome to Metro...

Quick workaround (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40643211)

For the past 4 years or so, I've set up my 360 as a "Media Center Server" or client or something, can't remember. Upon boot, I get a screen that says "Can not detect media center". Then I press the center button, which brings up a small, tidy menu with which I can do whatever I need, including launch a game.

to the detriment of the user experience (1)

tgibbs (83782) | about 2 years ago | (#40643215)

The XBox Live interface has gotten worse with each revision. Usability is terrible, with the features that the user is really interested in buried under a ton of ads. The PS3 interface is enormously superior, and at least all of the ads are segregated out of the way.

But both of their online stores are really lousy even in terms of selling things--far inferior to Apple's iTunes (which is no great shakes itself).

Re:to the detriment of the user experience (1)

PrimalChrome (186162) | about 2 years ago | (#40643539)

Just out of curiosity, do you really feel that the PSN interface is better than XBox? Whereas XBox is more complex and not as simple to navigate, it has always felt like a richer experience overall. That being said, I don't subscribe to Live....because I"m not willing to pay for a service that is free on every other platform. Fanboi console monkeys seem to be willing to settle for dumbed down gameplay, poor control schemes, and price gouging....but that's the world they choose. (I do own a PS3, Xbox360, and a few PCs.)

Valve's Steam has ever other online gaming/marketplace/matchmaking service I've seen beaten...hands down. Nothing else really compares for overall value and usability.

Re:to the detriment of the user experience (1)

tgibbs (83782) | about 2 years ago | (#40643727)

Yes. I have both, but I'll always go to the PS3 first if I have a choice. I recently had to go to the Xbox to access HBO Go, and as usual found myself swearing at the horrible interface. Most of the menu items on the upper level XBox menu are things that Microsoft is trying to sell you. Things like preferences and access to services like Netflix or your own media on other devices are buried. And instead of being organized in a nice, clean hierarchical menu like on the PS3, things are in panels in blocks (all with flashy pictures) with little logic to the arrangement, bringing back ugly memories of Microsoft's early versions of Windows that stuck documents in panes (back before they gave up on their own design and decided to imitate the Mac).

Actually, I think the "3D" menu on the PS3 has the most usable interface that I've seen on any TV box (except maybe a TiVo)--even better than Apple TV (which is not bad). And the XBox 360 is about the worst.

Re:to the detriment of the user experience (2)

Fallingcow (213461) | about 2 years ago | (#40643827)

I live in terror that one day Sony will realize how much money they could make if they ran their store more like Steam--how many games they could sell if they cut the normal prices a bit and ran occasional steep sales, how easy it would be to kill Redbox by allowing me to rent movies I can't find on Netflix at a competitive price (instead of the current you'd-have-to-be-insane-or-stupid-to-pay-it rate that amounts to half the cost of the damn DVD just to "rent" the digital file), no more points bullshit (do they still do that? I haven't looked in so long...), etc.

If they'd done that a couple years ago they'd likely have seen a few hundred dollars from me instead of the $20 or so I've spent with things the way they are. I'd buy more digital copies of games "new" during sales rather than doing what I usually do now and buying the discs used, and I might actually use their movie service.

Thank god they haven't figured that out. They could have gotten a lot of money from me, the bastards.

'Customers' are the product for more than just ads (1)

Rijnzael (1294596) | about 2 years ago | (#40643233)

Xbox Live is in the unique situation of being able to sell ads to the end-user, sell the ability to access end-users (via Marketplace) to publishers/developers, and take a cut of those purchases between publisher and end-user.

The article discusses this as a problem, but as far as Microsoft is concerned, it's everything as it should be. Customers aren't pissed enough to leave because they still see value in the service they're paying for and the ads are pretty unobtrusive. Until end-users or publishers get annoyed enough at the status quo to make a significant enough dent in their profits, Microsoft is not going to care. As it stands, we'll pretty much have to wait for one of the big name publishers to get annoyed enough that their games aren't getting the exposure they want, because the current minority voice of end-users annoyed at ads just isn't loud enough, and I don't think it ever will be. Publishers and their triple-A titles on the other hand have a ton of sway.

Of course, it will be interesting to see if the increasing dependence on Microsoft continues. If so, it might get to the point where the publishers don't have much sway as far as negotiations are concerned. Given that the gaming industry (excepting a few smart companies and indie devs) are basically abandoning the PC market in favor of locked-in console gamers, we're near the point where the console manufacturers and their signing keys are going to be the barrier between publishers and their continued success (or eventual failure).

Dashboard Devolution (4, Interesting)

decipher_saint (72686) | about 2 years ago | (#40643247)

I didn't own an original XBox, so I don't have a frame of reference but I've noticed that since I bought my 360 in 2008 most updates to the Dashboard have been working hard at making it more difficult to find my games or my home media.

In fact, with the latest batches of updates (Metro-like?) I've found it very difficult to get to games I want to play in my library, to the point now that I forego the GUI and go straight to the "quick play" option (which is basically just an alphabetically sorted list). And browsing my home network has been completely removed in lieu of streaming (yuck, no thanks).

I think Microsoft could learn a thing or two from Valve, Steam is pretty easy to use but is also a ad delivery system, I can find everything rather easily in Steam and I find it a lot less annoying than the 360 Dashboard, also Steam has sales for games that don't suck, and that makes me want to spend money but hey, that's just my opinion...

Re:Dashboard Devolution (1, Interesting)

Dyinobal (1427207) | about 2 years ago | (#40643489)

Ya I'm a pc gamer and I've only sever seen xbox live used and never used it myself but I am baffled at why people pay to get ads on their xbox and to play games online, when you're already paying for the internet connection, why should it matter if your console is connecting or not. It would be like paying for my tablet to connect to my wifi and get online and play scrable or what ever. Why do xbox users put up with this?

Re:Dashboard Devolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40643619)

There's really only one reason and that's online multiplayer for some games, other than that it's a total waste.

Re:Dashboard Devolution (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#40643643)

All the other platforms have free online multiplayer. Why pick the one that charges a monthly fee?

Re:Dashboard Devolution (1)

Mike Mentalist (544984) | about 2 years ago | (#40643681)

There is more to the choice than "do I get charged or not".

Re:Dashboard Devolution (1)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#40643755)

All the other platforms have free online multiplayer. Why pick the one that charges a monthly fee?

Because it's the only one that has indie games and living-room games on the same device.

Re:Dashboard Devolution (1)

fredgiblet (1063752) | about 2 years ago | (#40643899)

Xbox Live started in the first Xbox when it's competition was almost non-existant for consoles (PS2 had some network capability but vastly less than Xbox). XBL is generally seen as a superior online experience to PSN from what I've seen. The 360 launched before the PS3 by about a year, so if you wanted next-gen graphics you had to get a 360, also the 360 had more next-gen games by the time the PS3 launched than were available on the PS3. Computers are too difficult and expensive for many people. If the PS3 had launched at the same time as the 360 it would probably be neck-and-neck. But they didn't (of course if the 360 hadn't had the RRoD issue then PS3 probably wouldn't even be a contender). Disclosure: My primary gaming platform is the PC, secondary is 360. I play almost no multiplayer.

The Xbox is no longer A Gaming Console (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40643311)

The evolution of the "xbox" brand has been a really interesting series of decisions that has totally changed the way that game consoles are viewed.

Originally, the xbox was a true gaming console. When xbox live first came out it ushered in a new group of people into online gaming with titles like Halo 2 and Forza for those who wanted to play against people online, but not on a PC.

Then the xbox 360 came out. The "Blade" UI was fairly interesting and clean. You had 4 main categories, your social stuff, your games stuff, your media stuff, and of course your general settings. There was barely, if any, space for advertisers to peddle their products.

The paradigm shift I feel from game console to "walled off PC with a monthly fee" hit when the NXE update came out.

"Improved Xbox LIVE Marketplace UI and browse experience — the Games Marketplace has been re-organized to provide streamlined access to the games and content you want, reducing the number of steps it takes to get to a download," was what they said would happen.

Then you installed the update and everything became more about consuming new things as opposed to things you already owned. It was strangely organised, and cluttered with advertisements for soft drink and snack companies.

Then Netflix hit it big (before the Quickster shenanigans) and the Xbox 360 all of a sudden became everybody and their mom's media streaming center (which you had to pay 15 dollars a month for xbox live just to have access too).

With Game Sales in a large decline (and have been for months), more people are consuming other types of media. They're increasingly consuming this media through their games consoles. In a way, Microsoft has effectively changed their "Hardcore Games Brand" into a "Media Center for your TV Brand."

Having sold my Xbox 360 in 2010 for this same reason (why would I pay 15 dollars a month, when I can just build a media center PC on the cheap?), it's an interesting story of how to take a market for a niche product and open it up for everybody.

Oh and Kinect will never be a success as anything other than a guide on how to move a ton of units in a short amount of time on tech that really isn't ready for primetime.

No one else owns a media center PC (1)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#40643801)

why would I pay 15 dollars a month, when I can just build a media center PC on the cheap?

Because not enough other people are willing [slashdot.org] to "just build a media center PC on the cheap". Without a significant user base owning media center PCs, major video game developers aren't going to target media center PCs. Hence why fighting games (apart from SFIV and MUGEN) and Mario Party-style games almost never get ported to the PC.

Re:The Xbox is no longer A Gaming Console (1)

fredgiblet (1063752) | about 2 years ago | (#40643923)

$15 a month? You must not be in America then. Here it's $10 a month and pre-2010 it was $8

Xbox live membership (1)

ThatGuy4029 (2548432) | about 2 years ago | (#40643345)

It's is interesting to think they would raise their prices for Xbox live membership cards at the same time they decided to redo the Xbox dashboard. The new dashboard, although staying true to their new style seen in the windows 8 beta and their mobile phone software it is proving vastly more useful in their own advertising Campaign. Honestly as an avid Xbox 360 gamer and user of windows I enjoy the product but am disappointed that a service I pay 60 dollars a year to maintain is still trying to squeeze money out of my pockets. Even PSN limits their advertising to minimum and that is a free service, I would like to see the next update fix some of my own personal concerns and allow gamers to focus on the sole purpose for the console, gaming.

Re:Xbox live membership (2)

vux984 (928602) | about 2 years ago | (#40643661)

Honestly as an avid Xbox 360 gamer and user of windows [and slashdot reader] I enjoy the product but am disappointed that a service I pay 60 dollars a year to maintain is still trying to squeeze money out of my pockets

Ok... I get joe consumer buying an xbox, but why you? Why not use an htpc/gaming pc? You can get most of the xobx games for windows, you can even use an xbox controller if you want, no subscriptions for basic multiplayer access, the games on windows tend to come out a few $ cheaper, and drop in price much faster than the console version.

Sure the PC is a little more complex to setup, but you are here so i assume that's not an issue. Its a little more money upfront, but again you are here, so i assume you could spec and build decent gaming pc on the cheap if budget was a concern. And you'll make up the price difference on no subscriptions and savings on games in the long run.

You also pick up the full flexibility of having a PC. Hard drive as big as you like, bluray drive if you want one, MAME etc if you are into retro games. Humble Bundles, GoG, Steam deals...

So I'm curious what the appeal of the xbox is for you?

Overstated (1, Insightful)

kamapuaa (555446) | about 2 years ago | (#40643365)

I'm annoyed by the idea of ads, but in reality I don't think the ads get in the way at all.

If you start your system with a game in it, press the "a" button and the game goes. To browse the game library, press down and hit "a."

It's not like you have to sit through a commercial, it doesn't even take up screen space that would be better used elsewhere. It's basically a non-factor.

XBLA games that get popular get popular through positive reviews, word-of-mouth, and advertising. Not because people are randomly browsing through streamlined XBox menus and decide to take a chance.

Re:Overstated (3, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#40643427)

That does not matter. I will not pay to receive ads. If there are ads on the system the games had better be free.

Same reason why I will never have cable, and would cancel netflix in an instant if they ever showed a single advertisement on streaming.

The screen space would be better used by being blank.

Product placement (4, Funny)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#40643823)

Same reason why I will never have cable, and would cancel netflix in an instant if they ever showed a single advertisement on streaming.

Add The Wizard (1989) [netflix.com] to your queue. Watch it. Realized you just watched a 90 minute infomercial for Virtual Console on Wii. Cancel Netflix.

Re:Overstated (1)

mister_playboy (1474163) | about 2 years ago | (#40643795)

It's not like you have to sit through a commercial

Ssshhh... don't give them any ideas! :P

This is my last xbox (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40643393)

I bought an xbox a few years back. I played a few games (loved fallout) but found it was quite functional as my media player - streaming from my tversity server on the workstation. This was its primary use in the house.

The last update has made the usability much worse. Instead of a couple clicks on the remote to get to the movie I want to watch, I have to navigate through screens of ads.

Two weekends ago I replaced it with a computer. The only reason I held out so long was I preferred using a remote instead of a wireless keyboard/mouse.

The xbox lives now on the shelf of lost toys - right on top of the VHS and DVD players.

Re:This is my last xbox (1)

Nadaka (224565) | about 2 years ago | (#40643505)

They do have Bluetooth remotes that can link to a computer with the right software by the way.

Well so what? (0)

jayhawk88 (160512) | about 2 years ago | (#40643405)

Microsoft has made it pretty damn clear that their hopes and dreams for XBox is a media center more than just a game console. The games are still there though, and if it bothers you that much, just go to one of the dozen or so other gaming platforms available to you. Is there anything on Live these days that is really that unique of an experience?

Re:Well so what? (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about 2 years ago | (#40643813)

Microsoft has made it pretty damn clear that their hopes and dreams for XBox is a streaming media center more than just a game console.

FTFY. When it comes to watching your own video files trying anything but vanilla MP4s* or WMV-HD is an exercise in futility and may seriously harm one's sanity. There's also no subtitle support (hard-coded ones excepted) which, to me, is unforgivable. I'm sure if I tried something like netflix I'd be impressed - iPlayer certainly hasn't wowed me - but I'd rather be able to watch the things I already own without needing to re-encode them first.

*You're limited to H.264 + 2 channel AAC. Unless you've got a NAS box or something to format HFS+ volumes (honestly, NTFS on USB disks isn't supported, but HFS+ inexplicably is) you're also stuck with a 4GB limit on files.

XBLIG (1)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#40643843)

Is there anything on Live these days that is really that unique of an experience?

Yes. The other consoles have nothing like Xbox Live Indie Games.

Cable TV anyone? (5, Insightful)

NalosLayor (958307) | about 2 years ago | (#40643511)

Not to point out the rotting dead fish in the middle of the room, but this is exactly what happened with cable TV, and yet there is no real outrage on that front any more. I'm not saying it's the right thing...or even "acceptable" but customers seem to never balk at ads, and content streamers never turn down a revenue stream. It feels almost inevitable.

Re:Cable TV anyone? (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#40643537)

So do what I did, cancel cable.
Tell them why.

Netflix has no such advertising and is cheaper. Hulu has the advertising but is free. I will pay for Hulu+ the moment it goes advertising free.

Re:Cable TV anyone? (1)

Pontiac (135778) | about 2 years ago | (#40643639)

There is no outrage on cable/dish because 90% of the users have DVR's with add skipping remotes.

Before I cut the cord I wouldn't even watch a show unless I had 20-30 min of skipping power.
If I caught up to live programing I'd pause and do something else for 10-20 minutes.

I wonder how long until my Blue Ray starts downloading streaming adds I can't skip before playing a new movie.

Re:Cable TV anyone? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40643707)

1. Cable was advertised as an alternative to OTA, and one of the main selling points was you pay for the service, so there won't be ads.

2. It's "blu-ray", you twit. On a tech site and claiming to have such a device. Hold your head in shame.

3. Does your mom know you're using her computer?

Re:Cable TV anyone? (2)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 2 years ago | (#40643719)

I think the lack of outrage has been mitigated in recent years by the introduction of timeshifting devices (e.g. VCR and Tivo) that also allow you to skip ads, as well as alternative sources for content that either display less ads (e.g. Hulu) or no ads at all (e.g. Netflix, torrents, other P2P, etc.). Instead of outrage, people are either working around the problem or are voting with their wallets and leaving cable in droves.

Having purchased a 360 less than a month ago... (3, Interesting)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 2 years ago | (#40643519)

I have to say that the 360 has been one disappointment after another when it comes to the console itself. The games are fine, as is the media selection, but after coming from a PS3 and Wii, the 360 doesn't even feel like it's designed for people interested in gaming or media consumption at all, which came as an utter shock to me, since everyone I know seems to enjoy theirs for those activities (and Sony isn't exactly known for quality products these days either). There's so much cruft and unnecessary nonsense between you and whatever you want to do on the 360 that it's extremely exasperating to do trivial tasks that are incredibly simple on the PS3. For instance, the only way I'm aware of to simply watch a video that's been downloaded to the local hard drive is to:
1) Navigate to the Videos tab
2) Select the option to view my video apps
3) Launch one of the video apps, then wait for it to load
4) Once it loads, navigate to my local videos
5) Find the one I want then play it

(I'm eager to be corrected by someone more knowledgeable, since I would love to know an easier way to do something so simple)

And several of those steps involve navigating past tabs filled with image and video ads mixed in with actual content in a Metro-ish UI style. In contrast, on the PS3:
1) Go to the Videos tab
2) Find the one I want then play it

And the only ad that you can't disable is some text scrolling in the top right corner (and it's oftentimes actually useful information related to sales or game launches in the PSN Store).

At least Microsoft had the good sense to not have the audio enabled automatically on the video ads that are constantly showing in the dashboard. Even so, it's rather jarring when you accidentally scroll over one of them and suddenly get blaring sound as they respond to the controller's focus on them. I don't know what the numbers are, but, at least to me, it feels like the majority of the UI elements in the dashboard are actually ads of some form, without only a few useful things present. Unfortunately, since they've mixed them all together, it's rather difficult to discern at a glance sometimes.

And don't get me started on the fact that even though I can watch Netflix on my iPad, iPhone, Apple TV, Mac, Windows box, PS3, and Wii without having to pay anything extra, I have to be a Microsoft LIVE Gold subscriber if I want to watch it on my 360.

Re:Having purchased a 360 less than a month ago... (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 2 years ago | (#40643673)

I feel your pain. I force my Xbox to boot up in MCE mode (its an option in settings) and watch videos from there to avoid all that.

Re:Having purchased a 360 less than a month ago... (2)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about 2 years ago | (#40643863)

For instance, the only way I'm aware of to simply watch a video that's been downloaded to the local hard drive is to: 1) Navigate to the Videos tab 2) Select the option to view my video apps 3) Launch one of the video apps, then wait for it to load 4) Once it loads, navigate to my local videos 5) Find the one I want then play it

(I'm eager to be corrected by someone more knowledgeable, since I would love to know an easier way to do something so simple)

Allow me.
1. Press the guide button
2. Scroll right to the media tab
3. Select video player
Downloaded videos are at the top of the list. It seems as though they've replicated much of the old-style NXE menus on the Xbox guide.

Re:Having purchased a 360 less than a month ago... (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 2 years ago | (#40643955)

Don't your steps just replace my 1-3 (or 1-4?) with a different 1-3? That's genuine curiosity, not an attempt at an argument. I haven't explored that particular part of the interface much yet (it feels VERY out of place), so I honestly don't know.

Re:Having purchased a 360 less than a month ago... (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about 2 years ago | (#40644049)

The number of steps may be the same, but with the way I've given you only have three button presses (compared to the nine you have to do now) and no waiting for the list of video apps.

Metro / Windows 8? (1)

WarwickRyan (780794) | about 2 years ago | (#40643599)

Since the change I've hardly used my Xbox, and have moved pretty much to the PC. I'm sensitive to this kind crap.

This is my biggest worry is that they're going to pull the same trick with Metro. It's the advertiser's dream, and the one way they'll beat Google. They control the platform, they control the ads.

Re:Metro / Windows 8? (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about 2 years ago | (#40643879)

If you've seen Win8 pre-releases, a Metro start screen still shows what you as a user want to see there - you pick and choose what tiles to pin. An app could technically use its tile notifications to spam ads (though I don't know how that would go with Windows Store licensing agreement), but you can always kill that.

Well then, the math is still simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40643637)

"We don't share this information publicly but we can tell you that, since 2010, the advertising business has grown 142%"

Therefore, because Microsoft has been making so much revenue from other sources, the price of an XBox Live membership must have been reduced correspondingly large amounts since 2010, right?

I just stay offline on the 360 & boot to game (1)

HalAtWork (926717) | about 2 years ago | (#40643833)

This is why I stay offline on the 360. I never saw a reason to pay if they're displaying ads. The only time I connect is for title updates and for XBLA games I can't find on PSN. And yes, I'm waiting a year+ for FEZ because of this crap.

On a side note, the fact that the UI keeps changing on the 360 just makes me turn on the "boot to game disc" option. I really can't stand navigating the "dashboard." I feel like I'm going back to a supermarket that constantly rearranges their displays and products. I wouldn't stand for this on my PC's OS, nor within an application, and it's incredibly annoying to have to put up with it on a console's. I'm glad the PS3 and Wii's have stayed the same during their lifetime.

To me, a console is just a game machine and that's what I want it for. It can do other things, but let me customize the UI so I can ignore that stuff, otherwise I just won't buy it and I'll stick to the competition. I'm sure at least the Wii U won't be doing this kind of BS, and if that's the last console I own, so be it.

About that 142% growth. (1)

PeanutButterBreath (1224570) | about 2 years ago | (#40643893)

"We don't share this information publicly but we can tell you that, since 2010, the advertising business has grown 142%"

If their was dollar value worth bragging about, even with vague allusions, you could be sure that they'd be doing it. The fact that they would instead resort such an obvious attempt to impress you without providing any basis for arriving at an impressive conclusion yourself, suggests that they are blowing smoke.

Which is actually more aggravating. They will continue to try to squeeze money out of this rock, to the detriment of their core customer base, just because some piddly revenue that isn't even worth mentioning is nonetheless being pursued by some bean counter.

Blocking Xbox Ads (2)

SeanDS (1039000) | about 2 years ago | (#40644123)

I have blocked the ads on the dashboard by having my router block the following sites:

msnvideoweb.vo.msecnd.net
rad.msn.com

Unfortunately, it retains the ads provided by Microsoft themselves, which are, I think provided by the same domain as the actual Xbox Live services (i.e. unblockable if you want to continue using your Xbox online). Also, you still have the god awful presence of Bing Search in your dashboard, whether you like it or not. I cannot find a way to remove Bing like it is possible to remove other crapware that Microsoft installed along with the latest update (like the 'Zune' app - why the HELL would I ever want that?).

One thing's for certain, I'm going to stick with PC gaming (or more specifically, Linux gaming) from now on. Consoles are steadily going from being a platform for games, with pretty graphics you might otherwise not be able to get on a PC, to a direct line into your living room for the big media companies to sell you more shit. I block ads on websites, and the text-based ones that get through are never clicked. If a website's 'sign up' process gets in the way of the information I want, I either don't use it or I give them a temporary email address. I use price comparison websites to find the best price, then go to the seller directly rather than clicking through. I hate companies that make money without performing any real innovation online, and I try hard to avoid letting them make any money from my online presence. Microsoft first and foremost.

This is better (2)

SuperTechnoNerd (964528) | about 2 years ago | (#40644125)

See when you don't pirate, pay lots of money for games and hardware, do everything you are told like a good little boy. You get rewarded with beautiful ads. Isn't it so much better when you follow the rules?
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