Monday, December 17, 2018

Don't Buy An Xbox One, Charlie Brown

Okay, some good news first. I just received my Saturn in the mail today. It seems to work fine, which makes me pretty happy, but what makes me even happier is switching the system on and hearing those tinkling chimes for the first time in years. Then hitting the reset button and hearing them all over again. Then hitting the reset button again and... well, you get the idea. I get a nostalgic jolt every time I hear it, which is why I didn't really want to buy a Japanese Saturn instead. The boot animation is the same, but the sound that accompanies it holds no personal significance to me and, if I can be blunt, is pretty damned annoying besides.

Anyway, here's a clip of the US Saturn boot sequence so you can have a taste of that joy for yourself.

Okay, now onto the bitter ranting! A few months ago, Microsoft ran a promotion which encouraged users to visit sites like Bing over an extended period of time, in exchange for a monthly payout of points, redeemable for gift cards and subscriptions to Microsoft services. If you finished all of the tasks you were given in a three month span, you'd be rewarded with three months of access to Xbox Game Pass. 

There was just one teeny little problem... in the grand tradition of a crooked carnival game, the odds were stacked against you, making it impossible to win the prize. In the final month, you were asked to make twenty daily visits to the Xbox web site, but the counter would miss every other visit, or get stuck and refuse to count upward for days at a time. Put bluntly, you couldn't finish the promotion and get your three months of Game Pass, because Microsoft wouldn't let you.

I contacted Microsoft's customer service line twice while the promotion was still active, only to be told that they were working on it and that I needed to be patient. All patience got me was another bogus offer from Microsoft, where they promised a free ten dollar gift card but only gave you a blank screen when you clicked on the link. Hours later, I tried the link again, only to be told "Sorry, we ran out of gift cards, but stay tuned for more special offers!" Yeah, like I don't already know how that's gonna go.

(By the way, have you seen Microsoft founder Bill Gates lately? He looks like friggin' Orville Redenbacher. Like, zombie Redenbacher from those scary ads.)

So yeah, I'm not terribly happy with Microsoft right now. It's not just the piss-poor customer service that offers a whole lot of stalling and very little customer service. It's also the hardware they're selling, which comes up short against its main competitor, the Playstation 4. YouTube personality Jim Sterling called the Xbox One "just a little bit shite," but that's an overly generous description of a system that can't even keep up with its own interface. Really, you should not have to wait three seconds for a cursor to jump from one game to the next, yet that's the kind of performance the Xbox One offers if you've left it in "instant on" mode for a few days. Sure, you can turn it off, but then you're not going to be able to download games in the background, and you kind of want that feature when the games in question are anywhere from 40GB to 70GB in size.

I can't say I wasn't warned. People in the know told me not to buy an Xbox One, but common sense be damned, I just had to have that sequel to Killer Instinct. Nearly one year later, I feel like I'm still paying for it.

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