Oh Microsoft, Why We Hate To Love You

Choosing a side in today’s in-between-console-generations’ gaming world is resourcefully painful and mind-numbing exhausting for newcomers. A few reasons are evident on how you should choose carefully a system, hence first party titles. Therefore, we can’t always predict the direction consoles may take or poor decisions the company might shamefully make a while after you already purchased the thing, and is too late to do anything else but to cope with it. Microsoft, being the favourite-to-pick-at, remains the most well-known gaming console with the most irritating and mischievous ways to trick us and why it’s getting harder to keep loving them, no matter what.

Only a few people are left to actually defend Microsoft, and now, with casual gaming at the homestead (thanks a lot Kinect) I hear a lot more about the little problems that Microsoft should not keep getting into. Before starting, let’s get a few things straighten out, so that we don’t confuse this piece as an understatement for an Xbox-lash/rampage against it. I cherish my Xbox360 (and the previous two that co-existed and replaced it so far in my life-span) for many reasons, one being their first party exclusives, and second because of their integration with both a Windows Phone and a Windows-based PC.

It’s getting harder and harder justifying to unfamiliar people on how Microsoft operates their utopia, starting with their points system. By having this unification of brands and marketplace, Xbox offers an online service to purchase games, videos and avatar gimmicks, and all this by using a points system. 80 points are equal to 1$US but can only be purchased in either 1400 and 2800 chunks in Canada or 1600 and 4000 in the US. The only problem is that the way the prices are distributed, you’ll always gonna need to deposit a whole lot of points, just cause you’re gonna need a bit more for your next purchase. Let’s elaborate: You live in Canada (easier for my perspective) and you’re planning on buying a downloadable game off of  Xbox Live Arcade,  being a fairly new release, the most you would spend is 1200 points. Having either a 1400 or a 28oo balance, if you buy one or two games respectively depending on that, you would always be short for another game. Even if you decide to purchase a DLC for an already-owned title, you would spend 240 to 400, leaving you with an uneven amount of useless currency, which you now need to add at least a 20$ refill just to have that missing 40 points.

The convergence between real money and Microsoft’s system is awfully shady and manipulative. Since it’s very easy to throw out 20$ worth of non-physical goods without even noticing, and always having the need to add more funds for no other justifiable reason than to compulsively and effortlessly even-out a virtual piggy bank. For new-comers to the system, it’s a hard pill to swallow and it’s a shame considering how many neat and innovative Arcade titles the store owns. But this issue has been a debacle debate over the years and people have either decided to love the system and decide to make peace with it and embrace the fact every rose has its thorns like every company is just a greedy corporation in the end, or just to switch the another alternative for their gaming needs.

All that being said, let’s vent about a more recent and deceitful personal experience I had and brought me to write this piece in the first place. It started with the purchase of a wireless Turtle Beach headset and an issue I didn’t think would be possible having because my choice for a good quality entertainment setup. Having an Xbox360 Slim, I decided to ignore the composite or component options for the wiring (because that would be barbaric) and hook it up to the TV via HDMI. After purchasing the headset, I realized that with an HDMI connection to the Xbox, you need to have AV composite cables to piggyback on the headset’s in addition to the HDMI.

Microsoft supplies you with an AV composite cable (RCA), with a small plastic plate sticking out on the bottom part of the console-end, which completely covers the HDMI port (on purpose). Making both connections impossible simultaneously. But, visiting the Turtle Beach or Microsoft websites, they recommend you buying a set of HDMI AV composite cable that normally retails for 10$. The difference? There won’t be a small HDMI form-fitting plate that will block the port. They essentially want you to buy the same exact cables just because the ones they sell separately involves no trickery. My inner-geek instincts bypassed that option and went with what seemed to be the only logical and time-saving solution: crack the wire plate open. Once that filthy piece of disturbing plastic was removed and the cables were literally showing their naked end, everything was hooked up perfectly and didn’t end up 10$ poorer.

These are only a couple of evident examples that immediately should spring to mind about our beloved console. Unfortunately, Microsoft is not the only company that will try by any means to rip you from your savings or drive you mad due to illogical decisions. But, my allegiance to the company will persist until, one day, I will stand defeated without no alternate options but to surrender to the evil corporations that will one day ruin the video-game industry. Until then, I’ll keep dodging bullets and, importantly, enjoy my gaming time.


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