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Xbox 360 Updates Social Features, Back Compat

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the new-toys-for-everyone dept.

112

Microsoft is gearing up for another big update to Xbox Live, and soon they'll be offering a friend of a friend feature that will allow users to peruse their friends' friend lists. It's a voluntary service, and is gated by your age to avoid any parental fears. If you'd rather turn it off ahead of time, they already have a dedicated site set up for that purpose. (Gamertag login required.) That update will be dropping on December 4th. Relatedly, they're also rolling out a whole bunch of new backwards compatability options for your old Xbox games. Highlights include support for: Baldurs Gate: Dark Alliance, Burnout 2: Point of Impact, Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone, Indiana Jones And The Emperors Tomb, Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter, Syberia II, The Bard's Tale, Worms 3D. There's also support for a slew of sports titles going all the way back to 2003.

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The Third Age (1)

RogueyWon (735973) | more than 6 years ago | (#21505935)

Actually, the big news for me in that list is "Lord of the Rings: The Third Age". I've been itching to replay that for months, but now that I've given away my original Xbox, had no way of doing so. It was an interesting and ambitious attempt at making a Final Fantasy-style RPG out of the LOTR franchise and even though it didn't work perfectly, the production values were high enough that I'm looking forward to going back to it.

Re:The Third Age (1)

Cheapy (809643) | more than 6 years ago | (#21509213)

All the games that I wished were on the back-compat list have been backwards compatible for a while now. Except for one. I recently bought Deus Ex: Invisible War (for something like $4) knowing that it wasn't on the back-compat list but hoping that it would be on the next release. I've always been disappointed about that, especially since there are a few Barbie games that are backwards compatible. I have an xbox at home, but the place it was in is too dusty and some dust got in the tray, and now no discs are recognized.

I'm also probably the only person on the planet who is sad that Azurik isn't on the list either. It was a launch title too. And MechAssault.

I guess there were more than one game I wanted to play again.

Re:The Third Age (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 6 years ago | (#21511965)

The Barbie games (and other crap) in the list probably got BC almost for free because they used the same core game engine as .
That or there were enough games on the same engine to justify the BC work for that engine.

MechInstaller (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513813)

I'm also probably the only person on the planet who is sad that Azurik isn't on the list either. It was a launch title too. And MechAssault.
Might MechAssault be off the list in part because of MechInstaller?

Surprising (3, Insightful)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 6 years ago | (#21505991)

that they're still adding backwards compatibility 2 years after release. The real need for it diminishes as time passes, I would think. Personally, I'm waiting for some better video codec support so I don't need to transcode streamed video.

Re:Surprising (2, Insightful)

OK PC (857190) | more than 6 years ago | (#21506115)

Personally I'm of the opinion that if it uses the Xbox name then it should be compatible with Xbox titles. Same for PlayStation.
It is nice to see them continue support for Xbox titles, I am enjoying going through the games I missed first time around. Especially seeing as Sony seem to have given up on backwards compatibility. On the flip side, they do still sell the PS2 and you can't say the same for the Xbox.
As a side note, Xbox games seem to difficult to get hold of/expensive. For example, I have seen KOTOR 2 for £20 pre-owned!

Re:Surprising (4, Insightful)

king-manic (409855) | more than 6 years ago | (#21506935)

It is nice to see them continue support for Xbox titles, I am enjoying going through the games I missed first time around. Especially seeing as Sony seem to have given up on backwards compatibility. On the flip side, they do still sell the PS2 and you can't say the same for the Xbox.
PS3 has 1 version / 5 versions without backwards compatibility (BC), 2 of the remaining have ~80% BC, the other 2 have 90+% BC.

360 has 1 version / 4 versions without BC, the remaining 3 have ~40% BC.

Wii is ~99% BC with GC titles.

I don't see Sony being against BC but they did trim it to reduce the price. MS has paid lip service to BC but isn't really that into it.

Re:Surprising (4, Insightful)

NoodleSlayer (603762) | more than 6 years ago | (#21507467)

But really isn't that into it?!?!?

You realize that they are writing this emulator without having access to any of the specs for the CPU or GPU that were in the original xbox. It's not as simple are writing a 1:1 emulator simply because they don't have access to all the information to do that, they're effectively reverse engineering the original xbox to make sure that each game works. Because the emulation isn't perfect they don't have as large of a percentage of games, and they individually test each one. The fact that two years after release they're still updating the backwards compatibility list and still working on the emulator is pretty impressive in of itself.

Not to mention that the Xbox emulator on the Xbox 360 renders the game at a higher resolution then the original xbox did, with Anti-Aliasing to boot. This is why Xbox games typically look better on the Xbox 360. Overall that emulation software on the Xbox 360 is a engineering marvel that it works as well as it does with what typically is some of the most hardware bound performance intensive code.

Re:Surprising (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 6 years ago | (#21507689)

But really isn't that into it?!?!?

You realize that they are writing this emulator without having access to any of the specs for the CPU or GPU that were in the original xbox. It's not as simple are writing a 1:1 emulator simply because they don't have access to all the information to do that, they're effectively reverse engineering the original xbox to make sure that each game works. Because the emulation isn't perfect they don't have as large of a percentage of games, and they individually test each one. The fact that two years after release they're still updating the backwards compatibility list and still working on the emulator is pretty impressive in of itself.
The choices of CPU/GPU more or less justifies my comment. As well 2 years and ~40%, it started out at ~30% with marginal improvements. Event hat 30% was iffy. Nintendo showed they were serious about BC (or unconcerned with performance) by using an extended GC chipsets for the wii. Sony included the hardware in their machines and wrote a CPU emu.

Re:Surprising (1)

Cheapy (809643) | more than 6 years ago | (#21512103)

I tried looking this up with the wayback machine, but I am having troubles connecting to it. Regardless:

According to wikipedia, the xbox 360 started out with 213 games that were backwards compatible. There are now 478 games that are backwards compatible. It looks like the Xbox had 900-1000 games written for it. So, it would seem that the xbox360 originally had roughly 20% of games backwards compatible. Now it apparently has 51% of games backwards compatible. Custom writing an emulator and testing it out for each game takes a while.

And really. Adding the original xbox hardware to a 360 would cause small planets to orbit the thing due to the size ;)

Re:Surprising (1)

aztektum (170569) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510089)

...without having access to any of the specs for the CPU or GPU that were in the original xbox.
I call BS. They used slightly modified Intel and nVidia consumer level chips. It's not like it's some 30 year old processor that was designed on a cocktail napkin.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xbox [wikipedia.org]

I find it hard to believe they simply pitched ALL technical reference materials for the orig. Xbox.

Re:Surprising (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510527)

Yeah but you try getting Intel and NVidia to let you emulate their chips. I mean, if they wanted to they could even give you their original simulation code to work from but they probably have zero interest in that. Sure, they could give you the specs but there's a good chance those games ran outside of spec and exploited behaviour that wasn't even intended.

Re:Surprising (1)

edwdig (47888) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510697)

Intel is the easy part. They publish full specs for their processors on their website. You can download the PDF or even ask them to send you free printouts. Also, remember that Microsoft bought the company that made VirtualPC for the Mac. There's your x86 on PPC emulation right there.

NVidia is the harder part, but remember, all the games are coded to DirectX, which MS sets the standard for.

I'd say the hardest issue is NVidia avoiding patents.

Re:Surprising (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 6 years ago | (#21515977)

Microsoft don't have the specs to the CPU and GPU? Well that's amazing considering that Microsoft designed and specified the original XBox and produced the SDK developers used to make games, and the firmware it all runs on. I think Microsoft have an inkling of how their old system worked.

It would be more accurate to say that emulating hardware, even known hardware in software is *hard*. Emulating the instruction sets and APIs is probably the easy part. The hard part is realising all the horrible race conditions, latencies, deadlocks and other funkiness that comes when your emulation. On top of that many games probably abuse the APIs, CPU and GPU in ways that are hard to model let alone emulate.

So what Microsoft probably does is target a popular game implementing a particular feature set, gets it working and then discovers a bunch of other games start working too. For example, GTA was written against Renderware. So when Microsoft manages to get GTA:SA working, they might discover other Renderware titles suddenly start working. Thus you see all sorts of weirdass titles appearing in the BC list.

Sony had a slight easier job with BC. In the first instance it used hardware BC so it was virtually 100% compatible except for some edge cases. Even when they went software BC, they still kept the GS hardware, so the PS3 only had to emulate the CPU and they still managed ~90% BC. Now they've chopped BC entirely I don't know what they'll do. Personally I think the BC will creep back. They'll do what MS did and eventually emulate all of the hardware and take the hit on what titles they support. Perhaps BC will only be enabled on certain downloadable titles (the way the PSP emulates PS1 games), or a "PS2 emulator" will be sold on PSN at a premium. I don't think BC is dead on the PS3 since it's too lucrative to ignore.

The Wii has less problems since it's a Gamecube 2.0 and the hardware is quite similar to its predecessor.

Re:Surprising (2, Insightful)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 6 years ago | (#21507503)

I don't see Sony being against BC but they did trim it to reduce the price. MS has paid lip service to BC but isn't really that into it.

But look at the trend. Backwards compatibility on the PS3 is going away... on the 360 it's slowly getting better.

Re:Surprising (4, Informative)

rtechie (244489) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510757)

Many posters don't seem to grasp what happened with the original XBOX.

When building the original XBOX, MS choose to make a very "PC like" design that was essentially a specialized Windows PC. To save time and money, rather than developing their own hardware they outsourced that task to Nvidia and Intel who adapted existing parts (the NV25 and the Celeron 733) to the XBOX. Crucially however, they did not sell the production rights of those parts to Microsoft.

Fast forward a few years. The XBOX is selling nicely and Microsoft, like most console manufacturers, wants to reduce the price of the console to sell more units. Unfortunately for MS, since they don't own the rights to the GPU and couldn't reverse-engineer it, Nvidia has them over a barrel on pricing and they refuse to reduce the cost of the GPU (I'm told they were ballsy enough to actually try to raise it). Intel was much more willing to negotiate for the CPU (because they had competitors, like AMD), but that was useless without the GPU.

Because of their inability to cost-reduce the XBOX, Microsoft kills it prematurely. That's why absolutely NO XBOX games were release after 2006. Microsoft actually paid developers to have them move their games in development to the 360.

Fast forward to the launch of the 360: Without being able to include compatible hardware in the 360, MS is forced to rely on software emulation for backwards compatibility. Emulating Intel and Nvidia hardware on a Power4 system with an ATI GPU it even more difficult than it sounds. Consequently, backwards compatibility on the 360 is less that stellar.

You could blame Microsoft for this situation because they failed to ensure they held the rights to the Nvidia GPU, but personally I blame NVIDIA for being greedy. It hurt them in the end. Ever wonder why all the next-generation console have ATI GPUs? It's because of the way NVIDIA burned MS on the XBOX.

Re:Surprising (1)

woodhouse (625329) | more than 6 years ago | (#21512457)

>Ever wonder why all the next-generation console have ATI GPUs?

No. The RSX chip in the PS3 is an nvidia part.

Re:Surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21512599)

Ever wonder why all the next-generation console have ATI GPUs? It's because of the way NVIDIA burned MS on the XBOX.
  • the XBox 360 uses ATI because they got burned
  • Wii uses ATI because its design is strongly rooted in its predecessor, the Gamecube
  • ... and the PS3 uses NVIDIA

Re:Surprising (1)

nuzak (959558) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513217)

> Emulating Intel and Nvidia hardware on a Power4 system with an ATI GPU it even more difficult than it sounds.

I doubt they needed to do any significant GPU emulation -- that's what DirectX is for. I suspect the games that used nVidia-specific graphics routines are probably the same ones that have graphical artifacting, lowered framerate, or just don't have compatibility. As for the x86, it's a really well-known target, and Microsoft bought the leading PPC->x86 emulator company.

The BC updates are also quite large, so a good chunk of it may be recompiles or large binary patches to the original titles.

Re:Surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21516349)

What's all this got to do with backwards compatibility? Microsoft stuffed up their contracts and demanded cheaper components from Nvidia below the production cost. There was no incentive for Nvidia to reduce the price when they knew they were the only supplier. The relationship between the two comanies became sour and that was the end of story for XBox 1.

What I don't get is why the backwards compatibility on TimeBomb360 is so bad. It's not like they don't have access to the internal documents like most of the console/arcade emulators. Most of the games should just work but with some glitches here and there.

And yeah, right, none of the next-gen consoles uses Nvidia's chip, like PS3 with its RSX? You can blame Nvidia all you want, but everyone knows that it's Microsoft's fault because Sony doesn't seem to have the similar problem.

Re:Surprising (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21507591)

Personally I'm of the opinion that if it uses the Xbox name then it should be compatible with Xbox titles.
Then why aren't PCs that run Windows Vista compatible with PC disks from the early 1980s? And why can't my Nintendo GameCube run Nintendo cartridges from the late 1980s? And why are replacement parts for Toyota Prius automobiles from older model years not necessarily compatible with newer vehicles?

Re:Surprising (1)

edwdig (47888) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510755)

Windows Vista will still run Win16 software. Results will certainly vary when that software tries interacting with other software or hardware that wasn't around in its day.

The Nintendo GameCube is a different brand than the older consoles, so you wouldn't expect it to run the older games. Anything with the GameBoy name in it does run older titles in the same line though. NES / SNES you could have expectations for, and in fact Nintendo did try to make them compatible but didn't succeed.

The Prius comparison doesn't even make sense, it's not even remotely related.

Re:Surprising (1)

lareader (1191563) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513781)

Dude, it's a car analogy on Slashdot - it *can't* make sense, that's against the rules. ;)

Vista 64 does not run Windows 3.1 apps (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513917)

Windows Vista will still run Win16 software.
O RLY? From Windows XP Professional x64 Edition on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] :

Unlike prior versions of the Windows NT line, 64-bit Windows versions do not include NTVDM so there is no support for the execution of MS-DOS, POSIX, OS/2 1.x and 16-bit Windows applications
From Features removed from Windows Vista on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] :

As with x64 editions of Windows XP Professional and Windows Server 2003, in x86-64 versions of Windows Vista, NTVDM, the Win16 subsystem for 16-bit applications is no longer present. (This includes all applications for DOS, Windows 1.0, Windows 2.0 and Windows 3.x.)
Or are you talking about running an older version of Windows inside Virtual PC inside Windows Vista?

Re:Vista 64 does not run Windows 3.1 apps (1)

edwdig (47888) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514217)

An x86 processor running in 64 bit mode isn't capable of running 16 bit code. Blame AMD & Intel for that, not Microsoft.

The 32 bit version of Windows is fully capable of running 16 bit Windows code.

Re:Vista 64 does not run Windows 3.1 apps (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21516977)

An x86 processor running in 64 bit mode isn't capable of running 16 bit code. Blame AMD & Intel for that, not Microsoft.
Nor is a PowerPC processor capable of running MIPS code, yet the PLAYSTATION 3 can run PlayStation games, and some PLAYSTATION 3 consoles can run some PlayStation 2 games.

The 32 bit version of Windows is fully capable of running 16 bit Windows code.
So now you have to buy 2 copies of Windows to run all your Windows apps. That's like buying a PS2 and a PS3.

Re:Vista 64 does not run Windows 3.1 apps (1)

edwdig (47888) | more than 6 years ago | (#21519945)

Windows is a software platform. Playstation is a hardware platform. Different beasts.

Windows maintains all compatibility it possibly can. The PS3, obviously not.

Re:Surprising (3, Informative)

twistedsymphony (956982) | more than 6 years ago | (#21506297)

well, they're rolling down the ability to download Xbox 1 games thought the marketplace soon. Reports indicate that these will be little more than disc rips of the original games running on the BC feature of the console.

As nice a media piece about them still "caring" about BC on the 360 at this point I have no doubt it's driven by money... the more they support in BC the more they can pad their Xbox 1 download catalog when they roll it out (probably around the same time as the update).

Re:Surprising (1)

VinylPusher (856712) | more than 6 years ago | (#21506403)

...and the more 120GB drives they can sell (as part of the Elite SKU or separately) when people realise that Xbox 1 games can be fairly big. Or is that just me being far too cynical? 250GB drives within the next 18 months, anyone?

Re:Surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21506515)

There are 2 usb ports on the front, and 1 on the back, and there is support for external storage.

Re:Surprising (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 6 years ago | (#21506643)

I may be mistaken, but I think the external storage can only be used for media. The games are wrapped in DRM, I think. As usual, I may be completely wrong.

Re:Surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21506887)

Hmm, you might be right on that. I've never tried downloading an xbox live arcade game to an external device, maybe I should look on xbox.com, or ask the technical support.

Re:Surprising (1)

Discgolferusa (711112) | more than 6 years ago | (#21507365)

I believe that they are wrapped in DRM that is tied specifically to the serial of the xbox that downloads it. So even if you download a game to the HD, and take that drive to another machine, the game does not work. This has been a real problem with bricked 360's because you have to contact CS to have them set up so you can download them on the new machine.

Or so I have read. :)

Re:Surprising (1)

twistedsymphony (956982) | more than 6 years ago | (#21507787)

They're tied to the console AND your Xbox Live profile (and to be clear everyone who downloads the game will have an Xbox live profile and most Xbox Live profiles do not have an associated subscription fee despite popular belief).

This mean that YES you CAN take your hard drive to another console and play your downloaded games but you'll have to also sign into your Xbox Live account to validate that you're the content owner. The problem comes when you try to use it on the new console and you don't have internet connectivity to sign in or someone other than the content owner (spouse, sibling, child, roommate, etc.) tries to use it on their profile but cannot since the content see not validation from the console or profile at that point.

Re:Surprising (1)

twistedsymphony (956982) | more than 6 years ago | (#21507893)

You are completely right but for the wrong reason. DRM on the files has nothing to do with why external media cannot be used... External USB mass storage devices are READ ONLY and the console simply doesn't look in those locations for game content. So not only can you not download to those devices, if you managed to put game content on them (using any number of readily available and legal PC tools) the console will never check for content there.

As for those PC tools you can go to your local BestBuy or Gamestop and pickup transfer kits for moving any content from your hard drive or Memory Unit back and forth between the devices and your PC... they do have DRM on them so you can't do much with them but the option is there if you wanted to archive your downloaded content on your PC to make room new things to download.

Personally I have a Memory Unit Transfer kit that I use to backup my save games every so often... I figure I backup my PC data... why not my Game data. Backing up XBLA games and other downloadable content isn't all that important though because the XBL marketplace knows you own it and will let you re-download it any time you like.

Re:Surprising (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 6 years ago | (#21511021)

"As nice a media piece about them still "caring" about BC on the 360 at this point I have no doubt it's driven by money... the more they support in BC the more they can pad their Xbox 1 download catalog when they roll it out (probably around the same time as the update)."

WHAT? Companies are motivated by money? Whoa!

Re:Surprising (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 6 years ago | (#21507205)

Speak for yourself. Demon Stone is a really fun game, and I've actually wanted to play it again for awhile now but I'm far too lazy to bring up my Xbox from the basement, find the VGA adapter for it, plug it all in and play. Dark Alliance too, both of these games are really fun if you have a buddy over to do co-op with. (I can't speak for the other titles in this update, as I haven't played them.)

Not diminished. (2, Insightful)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 6 years ago | (#21508467)

Not for those of us who went from PS2 to XBox 360, which I suspect is a good chunk of folks. I never got to play KOTOR for example (has that made the list yet?), and the fun I'm having with Mass Effect makes me want to go check out earlier Bioware offerings. I also finally got to play Morrowind (after loving Oblivion) thanks to the backward compatibility. Heck, I only just played Halo *1* this year. :)

Re:Not diminished. (3, Informative)

Osty (16825) | more than 6 years ago | (#21509177)

I never got to play KOTOR for example (has that made the list yet?), and the fun I'm having with Mass Effect makes me want to go check out earlier Bioware offerings

KOTOR 1 and 2 as well as Jade Empire (same engine as KOTOR, more of an active battle system similar to Mass Effect except with martial arts instead of guns) have been supported on BC for quite some time now. If you haven't played them, you really must. Especially if you're enjoying Mass Effect.

Re:Not diminished. (1)

Da VinMan (7669) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510131)

Jade Empire was a real surprise for me. If you like martial arts, (light) philosophy, and RPGs; it's a very good game.

Morrowind? On the Xbox 360? (1)

Rob Simpson (533360) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513941)

When even on older computers you can run it at 1600x1200, or up to 1920x1440 if your monitor goes that high, with a mouse, mods, and superior graphics? And it costs $10 [amazon.com] ?

Sonny Bono (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513839)

that they're still adding backwards compatibility 2 years after release. The real need for it diminishes as time passes, I would think.
The need for back-compat lasts for 95 years after the last work was published exclusively in that format. Otherwise, the work ends up in a dog-in-the-manger situation.

The friend of a friend feature (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21506037)

This will be pretty useful, allowing one to pare down friend lists (which are annoying to maintain on the 360, less so on the web) where you only need a couple members of groups of people one plays with. Making it easier to fill out games with people less likely to be obnoxious to one's own sensibilities.

But really what I'd appreciate is some sort of network inspection, topology tool so you could figure out who was the best choice to host in a game. Even in circumstances when there's not much to do about a problem, like latency, it'd be better to just know what and where the problem was, as opposed to just observing it and wondering about its origin. Not to mention, all the data put together would give a very good measure of network performance offered by the various ISPs.

Re:The friend of a friend feature (1, Offtopic)

mollymoo (202721) | more than 6 years ago | (#21506807)

But really what I'd appreciate is some sort of network inspection, topology tool so you could figure out who was the best choice to host in a game. Even in circumstances when there's not much to do about a problem, like latency, it'd be better to just know what and where the problem was, as opposed to just observing it and wondering about its origin. Not to mention, all the data put together would give a very good measure of network performance offered by the various ISPs.

Wouldn't it be even better if for your substantial monthly subscription Microsoft provided the servers, which could thereby be guaranteed adequate bandwidth and good latency (at least to the backbone)? It's absurd that you pay money to Microsoft then have to host the damn games on your own system.

Re:The friend of a friend feature (1, Insightful)

C0rinthian (770164) | more than 6 years ago | (#21507263)

$4.16/month is substantial? Seriously?

Re:The friend of a friend feature (1, Insightful)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 6 years ago | (#21507379)

It is when you aren't getting anything in return for it (that you shouldn't be getting for free). Paying for online access isn't wrong... paying for online access, when Microsoft doesn't even go so far as to host dedicated servers, is fucking absurd. At that point, it's devolved into "We're Microsoft, and we take your money just cause we can!".

Re:The friend of a friend feature (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21509919)

Or you could not pay the money, because, you know, you can do that too. Microsoft have concluded that they can sell Xbox Live to a certain number of people at a certain price. You might think that's wrong, but it's plain to see that it doesn't actually matter what you think. At least to a first approximation. I mean, if you don't buy then that's a possible data point to Microsoft, but they've probably already taken it into account. But go for it!

Re:The friend of a friend feature (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510501)

I don't pay for Xbox Live. That doesn't mean I don't want it, and shouldn't complain about its shortcomings.

Re:The friend of a friend feature (1)

LKM (227954) | more than 6 years ago | (#21516731)

True.

I own all three current-gen systems, but I don't pay for live, so I usually buy the PS3 version of online titles. Unfortunately, in some cases, the PS3 version never comes out, is way late, or sucks (see: Orange Box). So I complain.

Basically, Microsoft expects me to pay for something I should get for free. If Sony can host Warhawk games without me paying for it, why does Microsoft expect me to pay for not hosting online games? Paying for Live sucks, so I'm not going to do it, but not paying hurts my Xbox 360 experience, so I complain.

Re:The friend of a friend feature (1)

enderjsv (1128541) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510643)

Truthfully, I haven't had many problems with the peer-to-peer system of the xbox live service. There are times when the lag is noticeable, but more often then not the games play just fine. I do agree that dedicated servers would be nice but I tend to think "fucking absurd" is a bit of an exageration. Why are people always so polarized in these forums?

Re:The friend of a friend feature (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510817)

If Microsoft isn't using your money to provide dedicated servers... what on earth are they providing in exchange for said money? Seems to me that they're taking it because they can, ie, fucking absurd.

Re:The friend of a friend feature (1)

enderjsv (1128541) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513109)

Well, I guess what you and I consider "fucking absurd" varies greatly. I tend to save extreme expletives for more dire situations. Five dollars a month doesn't quite cut it. I spend more on lunch each day than that. Besides, aside from the whole dedicated server thing, x-box live is awesome, easily the best online service available for consoles. And let's not forget, any company is free at anytime to create dedicated servers for their own games. Apparently EA does it for a lot of their games (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xbox_Live).

Re:The friend of a friend feature (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513187)

Yes, any company is free to create dedicated servers. Yes, $5/month isn't much. The point is... what, exactly, is Microsoft providing us with in exchange for our money (however little or much it may be)? As far as I can tell, the answer is... nothing. They're taking our money because they can. That's the absurd thing, and I'll get worked up about that whether it's $50/year or $.50/year! When I provide money to a company, I expect something in return for my payment, not abuse of a monopoly position.

Re:The friend of a friend feature (1)

enderjsv (1128541) | more than 6 years ago | (#21515757)

well, I think I can name a few things you get for your five dollars a month. First, the matchmaking service. Sure, it's not as good as dedicated servers, but it is a service, isn't it? Second, a friends list to keep you in contact with your fellow gamers. That too is a service. Third, instant messaging and voice chat that works inside any game. Fourth, downloadable content, a lot of which is free (I got hooked on the Heroes series after watching the first episode for free off xbox live).

I could go on listing little things the service provides, but I probably won't convince you so why bother. We live in a time where everyone feels "entitled" to things. I think that's sad.

Re:The friend of a friend feature (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 6 years ago | (#21516225)

We live in a time where everyone feels "entitled" to things. I think that's sad.
Perhaps. My beef has nothing to do with entitlement, though. Microsoft is charging, and if I feel their services aren't worth what they charge, I have every right to be dissatisfied (and no, I don't pay for Xbox Live). That's not entitlement, that's simply business. Microsoft is also going into a market, and trying to get people to pay for something typically offered for free. It should be no surprise that there's resistance.

You're right that you probably won't convince me, but that has more to do with the fact that I don't consider the things you listed (so far) to have anything to do with playing games online. They don't help my enjoyment at all, so I don't consider them adequate value for my money. Not to mention that the downloadable content has nothing to do with having an XBL subscription. All you need is an account, paid or free, to get that stuff. But meh, in the end, I have no problem with it if you want to pay Microsoft for XBL, it's your right after all... I just think it's a huge rip-off.

Re:The friend of a friend feature (1)

enderjsv (1128541) | more than 6 years ago | (#21520043)

I also just noticed another argument that you made that I'm a little uncomfortable with. I kind of passed by it previously but it caught my eye today. You stated that Microsoft was abusing it's monopoly status. How does Microsoft have a monoply in the console arena? Last time I checked, Sony and Nintendo had both sold more units (current and last gen) than Microsoft has. That's not really a monopoly. It kind of makes me wonder if you would get so upset about the five dollars a month if it was anyone other than Microsoft. I'm sure Microsoft isn't the only company charging to use a service that others give out for free (Blizzard and SquareEnix, for example). I guess in the end, I'm not really arguing with your original point, dedicated servers seem like a natch' thing for a pay-to-play service, but the fact that matchmaking works so well in it's absence and nearly all other aspects of the service are top notch, I simply had a lot of trouble buying the whole "fucking absurd" argument. But hey, to each his own. Okay, this thread needs to die so I won't respond anymore. You can have the last word.

Re:The friend of a friend feature (1)

LKM (227954) | more than 6 years ago | (#21516751)

I don't feel entitled to things. It's Microsoft who apparently feels entitled to my money, even though they are not willing to provide anything in return.

Come on. The matchmaking service? Friend lists? Instart messaging? The right to buy additional content? That's what you can come up with?

Re:The friend of a friend feature (1, Informative)

mollymoo (202721) | more than 6 years ago | (#21507589)

A 3-month game card (the link I found to the 12 month was broken and the "sign up" link on the UK XBox site does nothing when I click on it) costs £15 (~$30). And for something you get for free (PS3, DS, Wii) or for $10 per year (Gamespy) elsewhere, yes, $5-10 a month is substantial.

Re:The friend of a friend feature (1)

C0rinthian (770164) | more than 6 years ago | (#21507713)

My sub with Live is $50/year. Works out to $4.16/month. Just the integrated voice chat is worth that, IMO. The DS/Wii doesn't have anything remotely comparable to Live. I can't comment on PS3.

Re:The friend of a friend feature (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21507719)

Nice way of putting it. That's the same way insurance agents try to sell their wares to people.

Considering that it costs $0/year for online gaming on the PS3 and Wii, yes, it is substantial. It's too bad Microsoft fanboys accept the whipping they receive from Microsoft so willingly.

Re:The friend of a friend feature (1)

C0rinthian (770164) | more than 6 years ago | (#21508117)

I own a Wii. I love the Wii. You can't compare the online functionality to that of the 360 with a straight face, can you?

Re:The friend of a friend feature (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21510333)

It costs $0/year because they couldn't sell it for actual money. You get what you pay for - in the case of the PS3, that's pretty much fuck all (in fact, they ought to pay you, to alleviate the sucking). Wii might be better, dunno, but it's hard to imagine much worse.

What does Live give me that the PS3 doesn't have? (1)

LKM (227954) | more than 6 years ago | (#21516775)

I'm a bit unclear here. Explain this to me: What do I get on the 360 that I do not get on the PS3? My PS3 has a global friend list, messaging, matchmaking, it even has hosted servers. What would I get for my 360 if I payed for Live that I do not already get for free on the PS3?

Re:The friend of a friend feature (1)

lazyforker (957705) | more than 6 years ago | (#21507625)

How much more per month would you be willing to pay for MSFT to provide data centers and low-latency, high-bandwidth network connections in all the major population centers of the world?

Personally my Live account is priced just right. I don't mind hosting games - and I will drop from a laggy/stuttering game if I'm not hosting.

The design reminds me of the way bittorrent distributes the load. It reduces the MSFT infrastructure needs to a few "tracker"-type servers and then cuts them out of the loop. It's easier for them to provide reliable, robust infrastructure and keeps their costs down; and thus they can price competitively.

Re:The friend of a friend feature (1)

mollymoo (202721) | more than 6 years ago | (#21507961)

But Microsoft don't price competitively. They charge 5-12 times what GameSpy charge for the same service and infinitely more than Sony and Nintendo. $5-10 a month would be reasonable for access to high quality hosted servers and $0 per month would be reasonable to allow you to play directly using an XBox as the server. AFAIK, there is no option but XBox Live Gold if you want to play on-line, you can't just type in the IP of your clan server or find a free, public server.

Bittorrent is good for P2P and non-profit stuff (Linux ISOs, for example), but for commercial content distribution I feel the same way as I do about XBox Live - they can either pay me (in the form of a discount) to cover the cost of the bandwidth I'm providing or pay for their own f*ing bandwidth.

Re:The friend of a friend feature (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513957)

Bittorrent is good for P2P and non-profit stuff (Linux ISOs, for example), but for commercial content distribution I feel the same way as I do about XBox Live - they can either pay me (in the form of a discount) to cover the cost of the bandwidth I'm providing or pay for their own f*ing bandwidth.
They are paying you, in the form of a discount. Compare to the price of having new DVDs shipped to your door.

Re:The friend of a friend feature (1)

Your.Master (1088569) | more than 6 years ago | (#21514437)

I hate to play the part of the irrelevant picky asshole, but I *hate* it when people say "infinitely more". It's a matter of several dollars more per unit time (I don't know the actual amount in US currency and don't care to look it up).

It isn't even infinitely times as many, because ((n | n != 0) / 0) doesn't equal infinity. You just cannot divide by zero in the most commonly used number systems.

Anyway. I don't pay for Xbox Live Gold, because I don't play multiplayer. Yippee.

Re:The friend of a friend feature (1)

mollymoo (202721) | more than 6 years ago | (#21519477)

Your error is in assuming the cost of playing on the other systems is zero. It's not, it's just extremely small (say, the additional energy cost of sending the data) - one might say the cost is infinitesimal. See? The maths does work. Seriously though, it was just hyperbole. Applying strict mathematical definitions outside of that context is just going to stress you out for no reason. I gave up caring that people say "weight" when they really mean "mass" a long time ago. Life's too short.

Re:The friend of a friend feature (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21508477)

No, that'd be worse. Then some people would always be closer to the servers and have a latency/bandwidth advantage. The variability over the hosting system has a democratizing effect to my mind. Not to mention the inconvienence of server maintainence (which still happens to xbox.com adding more sets of servers wouldn't improve things), and the depreciation of the amount of server allocation as games are depreciated. I think given the trend for network technology (possible maximum performance doubles every 9 months, as opposed to 12 for HDs, and 18 for chips) moving to a more distributed method is better long term and feasible now. That said, games like Gears could greatly improve on the dead-reckoning method of synchronization. Not a network tool collecting performance data from a sample as large as xbox live would be very revealing to everyone should the data become publicly available. Wouldn't you like to know what exactly you're getting for your ISP dollar? In my case its 50 bucks a month just for internet near 150 for the whole package, which is a lot of money considering the level of institutional under investment. As it is, I'm world wide on xbox lives. I've played with people from japan (which seems to be a pretty good connection, better than say to florida or new york, i'm in seattle), kuwait (non american), columbia, mexico, all over europe, dedicated servers, you're either taking about a massive advantage for a divinely annointed few, or more probably a kind of regional segregation.

50 bucks a year doesn't seem much considering what live has done for me. It's turned me greatly from tv to video games. Which might not be any better for me, but considering the (sadly?) hundreds of hours of entertainment that I realize from Live!, seems a little silly for me to bitch about 50 bucks considering the raping I endure at the hands of comcast.

get off my lawn (2, Interesting)

HelloKitty (71619) | more than 6 years ago | (#21510139)

paying again for the network connection i already have paid for is senseless. I boycott xboxlive gold... ridiculous that they charge us for servers. servers are what get us to buy/pay-for the game. any PC game company does this for free - or.. lets you peer-to-peer it or run your own server for free...

even the dumb video camera requires xboxlive gold subscription. on PS3 you can video conference over standard network connection - no subscription... and i hate ps3, but they have this one thing right.
I say WTF microsoft. you're not getting any subscription dollars from me, get off my lawn...

Re:The friend of a friend feature (1)

Bender Unit 22 (216955) | more than 6 years ago | (#21513361)

Indeed, I thought that was how it worked when I got the xbox. The user hosted game sessions really suck in most games. Specially for a casual player like me.
Half of my time are wasted on finding good sessions and when I only can squeeze an hour in here and there to play, it is mostly useless.

 

How about... (0, Redundant)

VinylPusher (856712) | more than 6 years ago | (#21506189)

fixing some of the broken compatability with the likes of PGR2? Blanking some of the menu screens, weird car shadows, odd sound effects... these things do not impress.

Re:How about... (1)

twistedsymphony (956982) | more than 6 years ago | (#21506349)

they might get fixed... with every update that adds games they usually improve just as many past profiles as well. With that said PGR2 is a great title but owning a 360 I'd much rather be playing PGR4 these days.

Tried Thief 3? (1)

Moryath (553296) | more than 6 years ago | (#21506479)

They list it as "Compatible"... which means it'll run.

It's REALLY BIZARRE to play though, since every light source in the level can be seen through the walls... something in their emulated video code is really messed up.

So now, with a little work (1)

RHSC (1019802) | more than 6 years ago | (#21506205)

After the update, you can frag your friends, their friends, their friends, their friends, ... and their friends It's infinite frag recursion

Re:So now, with a little work (5, Funny)

vonPoonBurGer (680105) | more than 6 years ago | (#21506347)

I hear if you frag a friend, then a friend of that friend, then a friend of that friend, and so on to a depth of six people, you will eventually frag Kevin Bacon.

Re:So now, with a little work (1)

ThirdPrize (938147) | more than 6 years ago | (#21506603)

Ha. Funny.

Re:So now, with a little work (2, Funny)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 6 years ago | (#21507101)

No, that's only on the PC.

On XBox Live, if you frag a friend, then a friend of that friend, and so on to the depth of six people... Kevin Bacon eventually calls you "teh gey" whilst sounding like a thirteen year old boy with hormonal issues.

Re:So now, with a little work (1)

ab0mb88 (541388) | more than 6 years ago | (#21507997)

I just received an e-mail that said for every friend that you frag Microsoft will send you a dollar, and for every friend that that friend frags they will send you a quarter. It was something about some new friend tracking system that Microsoft has been working on since the beginning of e-mail.

Re:So now, with a little work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21508695)

But does that work for shagging Kevin Bacon.

Re:So now, with a little work (1)

steveo777 (183629) | more than 6 years ago | (#21509413)

Even better. I'm going to send out a letter saying my friend is a lawyer and that this really works! Have all your friends send you a dollar, then all their friends' friends send you a dollar, to six degrees, you'll be a millionaire!.. or at least that what the letters they keep sending me say.

Dark Alliance (1)

Casharelle (746564) | more than 6 years ago | (#21506353)

I'm glad to see that Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance is on the list. I greatly enjoyed co-op multiplayer action RPGs like that back in the XBox/PS2 days. I think I'll grab a used copy at lunchtime; plenty of entertainment for only $12 and my Wife will enjoy playing through it again. I know Dark Alliance 2 has been on the list forever, but its so rare that it still commands upwards of $30 for a used copy in Gamestop. Besides, Dark Alliance was a much tighter game and had much less 'filler' than its rather lackluster sequel.

This is weird... (1, Insightful)

Bones3D_mac (324952) | more than 6 years ago | (#21506757)

especially considering how well Sony offered complete backward compatibility so perfectly on the PS2. Nowadays, it's lost so much relevence that the "feature" is almost non-existent on the PS3 and exists only an incrimental add-on for the most mediocre of titles on the 360. (Legal issues on who owns what on the original Xbox's hardware, not withstanding...)

The only console to have it right on this generation is the Wii. (Which, strangely enough, may be why it's still doing so well despite the surprising large number of yawn-inducing, similarly designed party-game titles and the awkwardly made "classic" controller for the virtual console stuff.)

Strangely, you'd think backward compatibility would count for much more on the PS3, since Japanese households rarely have the kind of free space needed for keeping stacks obsolete hardware next to the TV. Sony wants to squeeze at least 1-2 more years of life out of the PS2 market, but without backward compatibility available to late adopters of the PS3, it's hard to see how anyone can really find much value in purchasing any more content for the older system.

Re:This is weird... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21506945)

> Nowadays, it's lost so much relevence that the "feature" is almost non-existent on the PS3

The software emulation does something like 95% of all titles, while the 360 is lucky to get 70%. I'm still waiting for it to do the second two Prince of Persia titles. Furthermore the PS3's software emulation actually upscales, something the PS2 hardware inside the PS3 did not do. For the rare title that doesn't work in emulation, there's always the slim PS2 -- Japanese apartments may be small, but they're not shoeboxes, and tv's themselves take less space than they used to.

Re:This is weird... (1)

Lulfas (1140109) | more than 6 years ago | (#21507137)

especially considering how well Sony offered complete backward compatibility so perfectly on the PS2. Nowadays, it's lost so much relevence that the "feature" is almost non-existent on the PS3 and exists only an incrimental add-on for the most mediocre of titles on the 360. (Legal issues on who owns what on the original Xbox's hardware, not withstanding...)
To be fair, complaining about the Playstation backwards compatibility, and comparing it next to the Xbox, isn't a fair fight. The Xbox doesn't even come close, especially if you look at the generation 1 PS3's (60 gig, with hardware based emulation).

Re:This is weird... (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 6 years ago | (#21507507)

To be fair, complaining about the Playstation backwards compatibility, and comparing it next to the Xbox, isn't a fair fight. The Xbox doesn't even come close, especially if you look at the generation 1 PS3's (60 gig, with hardware based emulation).

While a new 40GB PS3 has NONE whatsoever.

Re:This is weird... (4, Interesting)

NekoXP (67564) | more than 6 years ago | (#21507515)

especially considering how well Sony offered complete backward compatibility so perfectly on the PS2


It's not. The PS2 ran the same code (common MIPS architecture processor) and had the same IO controller for audio and controller access as the original Playstation. Compatibility was assured through hardware. The graphics controller was also superficially similar - enough at least to let your games run, just faster and with some blending tacked on top.

Nintendo hit the same concept with the Wii being able to play Gamecube games - it practically *is* a Gamecube, just faster.

The PS3 also includes some of the original components of the PS2 for compatibility's sake although they are starting to get rid of those right now, and they never worked so well. The Xbox 360 ain't even slightly like the original Xbox. New CPU, new IO, new graphics controller.. the whole thing is software emulation. It should be said that Sony and Microsoft have different compatibility goals - Microsoft want to keep Xbox owners happy by letting them use their old games and back catalogue (Nintendo have the same goal). After all in a world where Halo and Halo 2 (or Metroid Prime and Echoes) did so well, do you really want gamers to start from the third game and lose the ability to play the saga from the start? :)

Sony have decided nobody wants to buy a $500 console to play 8 year old games so they're ditching the feature. Since they continue selling the PS2 at ridiculously affordable prices, there's no point making the PS3 compatible. It's not like you can still buy a Gamecube or Xbox brand new, though, these days.

Re:This is weird... (1)

Osty (16825) | more than 6 years ago | (#21512231)

Sony have decided nobody wants to buy a $500 console to play 8 year old games so they're ditching the feature. Since they continue selling the PS2 at ridiculously affordable prices, there's no point making the PS3 compatible. It's not like you can still buy a Gamecube or Xbox brand new, though, these days.

That "ridiculously affordable price" for the PS2 is still $130, which means you have to spend $630 rather than just $500 to get PS2 and PS3 support (assuming you don't already have a PS2, of course). As well, you now have to have two systems connected to your TV, two systems taking up power plugs and using power when in standby mode, two sets of controllers (PS2 controllers don't work with PS3), etc.

Just because Sony says nobody wants BC anymore doesn't mean it's true.

No Game Boy Player for Wii (2, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21507657)

The only console to have it right on this generation is the Wii.
It's right, but still not perfect. The GameCube can play Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance games through an accessory. No such accessory is made for Wii. Nor can the (admittedly few) GameCube games with online support go online because the Wii's Wi-Fi chip doesn't look like a GameCube LAN adapter.

Re:This is weird... (1)

sxeraverx (962068) | more than 6 years ago | (#21507665)

Sony still does offer complete backward compatibility for PS1 games on all PS3s. One model that's much cheaper than the rest is available for people who don't want or need BC. One other model that's currently in production had software backwards compatibility with almost 1800 titles at release and probably has even more now, as opposed to only 465 XBOX titles available even now, two years later.

Re:This is weird... (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 6 years ago | (#21517617)

Nowadays, it's lost so much relevence that the "feature" is almost non-existent on the PS3


How is this "insightful"?

If by "almost non-existent" you mean: "supports a much larger percentage of the previous generation's library than the 360, had a larger library to support in the first place, and goes back two generations", then yeah. That's almost non-existent. Oh, unless you buy the one model that doesn't support backwards compatibility in order to be sold at a discount... But even that model supports backwards compatibility to an extent, because you can play downloaded PS1 games.

I don't know where you get the idea that it "[isn't] available to late adopters of the PS3". It just costs more money...

The real reason for the compatability updates (1)

Rurik (113882) | more than 6 years ago | (#21506771)

We all know all those added titles was just a cloud around the real title, The Guy Game. Some developer wanted his child porn [kotaku.com] .

Re:The real reason for the compatability updates (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21507535)

Yeah, because it is sooo evil to look at 17 year old "children". Then this magic happens, a date rolls by and suddenly they aren't children anymore. What was illegal and immoral 1 day ago is now ok on their birthday. Typical prude American idiocy.

6 degrees (1)

ExpressTrain (1195495) | more than 6 years ago | (#21507471)

My friends' friends, eh? I'm not sure what the setup is, but the punchline is "Kevin Bacon"

Re:6 degrees (1)

justkarl (775856) | more than 6 years ago | (#21509023)

Word on the street is that Julia Roberts is a big Halo 3 fan. I'd love to get to her Gamertag in 6 degrees. Not my favorite actress but I imagine a Halo match with her would be fun.

Online gaming should be free (-1, Offtopic)

gamer4Life (803857) | more than 6 years ago | (#21507605)

Why should anyone have to pay a monthly fee for online gaming? It should be on a per-game basis. If I play a FPS for several months, get bored, and buy a single-player only game - why should I have to pay for online access even if I don't use it?

Re:Online gaming should be free (2, Informative)

Bruiser80 (1179083) | more than 6 years ago | (#21508555)

It sounds like you should be buying your Xbox live accounts on the per-month basis. This will prevent you from purchasing a service you won't use.

Now a what-if for you: What if you play a bunch of multiplayer games on a regular basis? Should that person be charged more because they play different titles? Better yet - why not pay according to time used - that would work perfectly with my AOL dial-up account!

All joking aside, Xbox live offers a service that allows people to have a highly reliable online experience, a rating system for bad players, a system for meeting and making friends, and a decent voice system. I think that's all worth $60 a year.

Just my two cents

Re:Online gaming should be free (1)

Frogbert (589961) | more than 6 years ago | (#21511029)

Yeah but steam does most of that already, and it is free.

Re:Online gaming should be free (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21510737)

Parent poster is not offtopic - XBox Live is being updated, and the parent basically stating that it should be free. This is much less offtopic than messages bashing the PS3 about everything when the topic is completely different.

Re:Online gaming should be free (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21511903)

Now that you mention it, the PS3 does suck.
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