Ian Hoar – Passion for Technology – Geeking Out - Technology, Web, Toys, Games, Design, Entertainment, Gadgets, & Geeking Out

Xbox free arcade title announced

Wow, only two days after my post “Xbox Live, what are we paying for? Could the tides change?” and the free arcade game I spoke of has been announced. Turns out it is a half decent title called Undertow, and it will be available next week. Here’s the official announcement.

While I don’t want to seem ungrateful, I think this is a pretty lame deal. This offer is obviously calculated to have the least impact on Microsoft. I am still amazed that people are defending Microsoft and saying that the people who complain are ungrateful. Since when does a customer have to be grateful for goods and services they have purchased? Since when do customers have to be grateful that their service works? If my new car breaks down for a week and the company that makes it takes a week to fix it and gives me a free tank of gas and a free tank of gas to everyone who has ever test driven the car, why would I be grateful? I still had a week without a car, and why are these other people getting free gas?

Which brings me to the second point, why are Silver members getting the same treatment? They pay nothing for the service that went down, and they don’t even play games online. Their gaming experience is still pretty much 100%. Gold players that usually go online can’t even play! Okay, maybe they should have some kind of compensation since some might have bought live games with extremely strict DRM rules and had a new Xbox 360, which would require them to be online to play the games they paid for. Don’t even get me started on the DRM.

Some people don’t even like Arcade games, most of them in my mind are boring compared to the full blown store games. Now why was this choice made? What people out there that are praising Microsoft probably don’t realize is that this was not done out of the good of Microsoft’s heart. Don’t be naive, Microsoft is a corporation and the last one they are looking out for is you. They want to look good with the least capital loss. The Xbox 360 is already a financial failure so far. I actually do understand this though, as an investor myself I expect a company to balance that fine line between the public relations and the bottom line.

My hunch is that this game was picked for a number of reasons, namely cost. Forums are littered with people saying they already bought this game. Microsoft has said these users can call support and they will sort things out. So basically my time is not important, I have all the time in the world to sit on a support line. How many will know this or even bother? I’m sure this was calculated, since this is a pretty big title and a lot of people probably already own it. The best offer would have been a refund for the horrid month of live service, or free gamer points. This would have upset a lot less people, but it would have cost them a hell of a lot more. With this title, arrangements were probably already made. It never would have sold to everyone using live, whereas points would have been equivalent to every gamer getting a free game.

Anyway, I think the thing that bothers me the most about this whole thing is the Microsoft fanboys. No doubt this game is better than a punch in the face, and even better than nothing, but stop acting like Microsoft cares so much about you. The corporation cares about their bottom line and salvaging their image, that’s it, and that’s all I would expect from any corporation.

I personally think Microsoft is walking a dangerous line with the constant outages, crazy DRM schemes, and constantly breaking hardware. As I post this, a friend of mine is getting ready to pack his 360 in a coffin and send it back to Microsoft due to the infamous red ring of death. As I have mentioned in the past, with a growing number of upcoming block buster titles, I think the PS3 is starting to look more and more like a serious contender, and I’m also no fan of Sony. The red ring of death is becoming a symbol of what the 360 is. It’s too bad, because there are a lot of fantastic games for this system.

5 Comments to “Xbox free arcade title announced”

  • Green

    I don’t even get to have my free game, since as soon as they started sorting out the Live problems… BAM. Red Ring of Death, and I’m screwed.

    You only have FIVE days to download their hand-picked game, too… chances are that most casual gamers that don’t follow Major Nelson et al will miss it altogether.

    I know that I’m still waiting for MS to send me my shipping coffin, so I can send them their crappy box back… wonder if I’ll have to buy all my games again? Gotta love the infection of DRM.

    and you know what? we all keep taking it… defending it, even, as if it’s insane to even contemplate a different way of doing things.

    Reminds me of this: http://www.safetycenter.navy.mil/Articles/a-m/monkeys.htm

  • Green

    So, I just wanted to continue your great analogy as it applies to me personally:

    I get to the onramp of a great big highway, but I have to pay a toll… It’s reasonable, and I need a reliable way to go hang out with some friends I rarely see, so I pay it… but halfway down the line, they tell me I can’t drive on it anymore – not just traffic, understand – it’s actually broken, and you’re driving on boulders. Sorry, you’ll just have to visit your friends some other time.

    Refund the toll? Of course not, they didn’t expect people would be using it. But here’s an ugly bumper sticker that you can put on the back of your car. You’d have to pay for it, usually, but they’re giving it to you for free because they like you.

    Oh, except that you’ve got to pick it up before Sunday on the other side of town… just use this convenient highway they’ve got set up here *wink*.

    Unfortunately, they also make all the cars, and mine’s in the shop, because they didn’t make it to last more than a few months.

    That’s all fine, though… I don’t want Microsoft’s free bumper sticker – a little fucking respect as a paying customer would be nice, however.

  • Green

    So, just an update…

    I thought I’d inquire about the apology game download that Microsoft was offering to the people that they inconvenienced during the holidays with the Live Network outages… The download that you had to grab in the span of five days (given, of course, that you’d even heard of it), and the download that required the use of an Xbox.

    Which was currently in for repairs, correcting a known manufacturing flaw.

    I just got off the phone with Xbox live tech support, and after waiting for people to read to me from their horribly obvious and pedantic ‘support’ scripts, they told me I was essentially shit out of luck. I was told that was the only time MS was going to offer the free download, and they apologized. The apology sounded completely insincere, but it was well-enunciated, and was most of a proper sentence.

    If I had been standing in the call centre, however, I think I probably would have heard that well-enunciated apology echoed at many stations.

    The wonderful part of the call was when they said they’d note my inconvenience, and gave me a reference number to remember them by.

    And, at last, I was invited to “feel free to call back if ever [I] was ever experiencing the same inconvenience,” (presumably so that I could be politely told to pound sand again).

    Ah, the personal touch.

  • Green

    So, just to show that I’m not always ranting like Ian :)…

    here’s a letter I recently sent to the customer support feedback at my hosting supplier. Examples like this are what make my experience with Microsoft so much more frustrating – I know that good, prompt, competent service is possible. In this case, I wanted to make sure it was noted.


    “I just wanted to thank you for the excellent, clear help you’ve given me regarding my account. I was honestly expecting to run into a bureaucratic and technical mess — instead, my issues are solved, and with the instructions below, I was able to update my information quickly and easily.

    The courteous, timely correspondence was much appreciated, and I hope you continue with the great job you (and your team) are doing.

    Many thanks,

    PS – Please pass my email on to your manager if you can – I find that too often, good work goes unappreciated. I would love for the rest of the company to know why it continues to have me as a customer, and one who will recommend pairNIC to others.”