I recently shared a list with some of my favorite features about the Xbox 360, but for every thing I really liked about the platform I also encountered some issues (some more serious than others.) Take into account that these are some personal feelings about the platform and while I encountered some awfully specific problems that most of you’ll never see, that doesn’t make them more acceptable. Without further ado, here’s the list.
Xbox 360 doesn’t play all media files
One of the main draws of the Xbox 360 is using the system as a media center. But if you want to watch videos that you’ve downloaded from the internet, you should take into account that not all files will work. Personal favorites such as AVI and MKV won’t work on the Xbox 360 and it’s extremely unlikely that Microsoft will add this functionality at this point in the console’s cycle. If you want to watch those files, you better have a computer or an alternative media player.
Paying for multiplayer
Xbox Live has always been one of the best places to play online games. But while the service works remarkably well, you need to pay a yearly fee for that privilege. The problem is that Xbox owners with Silver accounts don’t have access to multiplayer games at all. In fact, you can’t even access free-to-play games if you have Silver, which I think is a bad way of handling multiplayer.
Here’s an anecdote. I bought the Xbox 360, I set it up, login and buy a couple of Xbox Pre-Paid Cards so that I can take advantage of the Black Friday deals. But I couldn’t purchase any games because there’s a discrepancy with the location of my Microsoft account and my currency. Naturally, I contacted Microsoft support and even though they told me this is normal and that migrating an account is a painless and effortless process, to this day I can’t buy games on Xbox Live. I’ve never had this problem with other services (GOG, Steam, PSN, iTunes and so on) and this shouldn’t happen.
Different hardware specifications split user base
If you buy an Xbox 360 with 4GB of flash memory forget about installing content on that platform. I understand that a lot of people are planning on using their Xbox 360s to play games that come on discs or to watch Netflix, but should they decide to buy a game on Xbox Live, they won’t be able to install them on the internal memory. Personally, I think this splits the user base and while there are some solutions (you can buy a hard drive,) some people come to consoles to play games and not deal with technical stuff.
One of the reasons why I didn’t buy an Xbox 360 back in the day, was because the console was plagued with technical issues. The one that comes to everyone’s minds is probably the Red Ring of Death which affected a lot of people, cost Microsoft a fortune and prevented people like me from getting the console. Those days are long gone, but problems like that aren’t easy to forget.
Launching applications should be as slick and fast and possible. This is something that streaming devices like Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV have implemented over the years. But this is different on video game consoles, because using applications is secondary. Still, I think people who want to catch up with the latest episode of Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead will be happier with their Xbox 360 if HBO Go or Netflix launched faster.
Xbox Marketplace has problems
Some games on the Xbox Marketplace are region-locked. I know this issue doesn’t affect most people living in the United States and Europe. But I’ve read a lot of Latin American and Indian sites where people complain that they couldn’t download their favorite games or demos in their region. An alternative to this problem involves setting up a North American account for instance, but that’s not the most convenient solution.
Xbox 360 doesn’t support unofficial hard drives
A while ago, Microsoft announced that Xbox 360 owners could use up to 16GB hard drives on their Xbox 360 consoles. Although this was a neat idea, why is it that I can’t use any hard drive on the console? Why is Microsoft forcing me to buy an official device to download games?
Internet Explorer 9 doesn’t work as it should
When Microsoft announced that Internet Explorer 9 was coming to the Xbox 360, I’m pretty sure a lot of people got really excited. Imagine using the browser to check out some of your favorite blogs and video services. But ultimately, IE9 isn’t the technical marvel everyone was expecting. For starters, it only supports HTML5, so if you wanted to check out sites that use Adobe Flash, you’re out of luck. It works with Facebook and Twitter, but using those sites with a controller is terrible.
Sales are exclusive to Xbox Live Gold subscribers
Steam proved that regular sales are beneficial to both developers and consumers and this is a lesson that other services learned as well (GOG, PSN.) Microsoft, on the other hand, seems like a stubborn company, since the only way to have access to most sales is by paying for a subscription. As a consequence, a lot of people won’t be spending any money on the service.