**Due to several of the Comments, I should note this is a LONG POST**
When in the Course of gaming life it becomes necessary for one gamer to dissolve the loyal bands which have connected them with a certain console and to assume among the powers of the earth, a separate and equal Playstation to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
I hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happy Gaming. — That to secure these rights, consoles are instituted among Men, deriving their powers from the consent of the gamer, — That whenever any console becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to buy a new console, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Fun and Happy Gaming. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that consoles long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that gamers are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Gaming Companies, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of this Gamer; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Gaming. The history of the present Microsoft is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over this gamer. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
His consoles have scratched several important Discs of mine and then denied that his consoles scratches Discs.
He has refused to assist with the scratched Discs as they are not published by his own hand.
He has made his customer service agent hang up on me in the middle of a support call.
He has held his wrath over my head in the form of an angry Red Eye, wreathed in flame, threatening to strike at a whim and take away hopes of Happy Gaming. The citizens of the gaming nation all hold this fear in their hearts.
Okay, enough with the analogy. On with the real story.
While the declaration of independence analogies may be extreme, they are strikingly parallel to my situation. A few days ago, I returned my Xbox 360 and bought a PS3. I hope that readers do not get the wrong impression from the following exposition. I am not a Sony fanboy, and you may email Tristero of this great website if you have any doubts of my validity. In fact, for many months my gamertag motto proudly displayed “Wii60”, and I was a firm believer that if you own a Wii and an Xbox 360, you were as fit as a gaming fiddle could be for the current generation. However, there was one side effect I did not like that came with owning Microsoft’s power box.
There was no Peace of Mind
. Below is an account of my trials and tribulations associated with the Xbox 360 and my reasons to switch to a PS3. I am sure my case is mild compared to other stories I have read.
My first Xbox 360 died from the red ring after 6 months of fairly regular use. I had bought the premium console, craving a more fundamental gaming experience than the Wii could offer in its post-release dry period. I found a plethora of deep, “hard-core” as they say, gaming goodness, and was enjoying the many benefits of Xbox Live.
The red lights first visited me and filled me with a sense of dread. My box did not stop working at the first sign of them; however, the blinking scarlet ring of doom would come from time to time over the course of a week. Eventually, the system became unusable at a critical moment. My wife and I used the 360 as our DVD player, my in-laws were over, and we were putting in a DVD that we had gotten my father-in-law for his birthday as the red ring delivered its final death sentence.
Luckily, I had bought the 360 from Costco, and they have a wonderful return policy. Even though I had purchased it months ago, I returned the dead box for store credit and got another Premium 360. I was hoping that Microsoft might have started to integrate components to reduce their heating issues, and that I might have one of their improved premium versions. I played in fear that perhaps the next time I picked up the controller, the red rings would appear once again. My new 360 worked fine for another three months until another, more sinister problem arose.
In the early morning hours of Halo 3’s release, I was playing online co-op. When the second level, Tsavo Highway, was loading the 360 made a funny noise and a disc read error popped up. I thought it was very strange to get a disc read error when I had only handled the Halo 3 disc from its case to the 360 tray. There were reports of the legendary and collectors edition having scratches from poor packaging; however, I had bought the normal edition. I opened the tray to inspect the disc and to my surprise, there were many short circular scratches on many parts of the DVD. These scratches were too perfectly curved to be the random damage caused by human error. No, the wounds were precise, and caused by a machine.
When I owned a 360, I took every precaution to prevent its technical problems. I did not keep the system enclosed, but rather on top of my entertainment unit with plenty of heat ventilation room around the side. I also kept my 360 in a horizontal position and was obsessive about the consoles movement while a disc was inside. However, the particular DVD drive was one of the few that did scratch discs while merely running and its first victim was none other than the hailed Halo 3.
As soon as EB Games opened in the morning, I tried to return my scratched disc. By then, they had received a letter from Microsoft dictating not to accept returned Halo 3 discs because of the legendary and collector’s edition packaging. I would have to go through Microsoft. The employees at EB Games did not understand that I had the regular edition and that the 360 had scratched my disc, not the packaging. When I got home and checked Microsoft’s policy concerning replacement of scratched Halo 3 discs; only the legendary and collectors edition was eligible and I was SOL.
I bought another copy of Halo 3 from Wal-mart because they were one of the only places with stock left on the day of release. At Wal-mart, you can return opened games for only another copy of the same game. My wife and I figured we would return the scratched copy to Wal-mart since we now had a receipt, then take the new copy to EB Games and return it since the new copy would be unopened. Everything was going as planned until the Wal-mart customer service employee opened up our game to check for scratches. My plan was foiled and I was out $60 from my faulty 360. I did have two copies of Halo 3 on my hands and I gave the extra copy to my brother, Tristero. From that moment on, I was always paranoid when my 360 made any type of strange noise, especially when it was loading content. For a few months, nothing happened, until the disc scratcher struck again; this time attacking another amazing game.
My wife, who is the best in the world, gave me my Christmas present early, and we went to Target to get Rockband the day it was released. While being disappointed with the wired controllers, we played it constantly for two days and even set it up at my parent’s house for Thanksgiving. When we brought Rock Band back to our place, I was playing through the solo drum campaign when a disc read error popped up in the song select screen when selecting Detroit Rock City. My heart sunk with déjà vu. Sadly, I opened the tray to find the same precise circular scratches that had ruined my Halo 3. If for some reason I could not return Rock Band to target I would be out $169 dollars.
As this was the second disc that was scratched by my Xbox, I tried calling Microsoft customer support to see if this was a common problem and if they would replace my disc. I really did not want to wait 6 weeks for a new console during the holiday season. It would be torture. The first time I called customer support and explained my problem, the agent did not understand and thought my 360 would not read any discs at all. I kept on trying to explain that it was the 360 that was scratching the discs and the DVD drive was not be able to access certain content in the scratched game. While discussing this with the agent, he hung up on me. I was not yelling or being rude. I checked my cell phone signal and it even said I was still connected.
I called back and told them about the disconnection. They assured me that it was probably a disconnection and he did not hang up on me. However, the agent had put in a repair order for my 360, and we had not discussed anything of the sort. I just wanted to know if Microsoft would replace my game. The second agent I spoke to understood my situation, thought it would be pointless to get my Xbox fixed because all other discs worked, and assured me of my fears; Microsoft will only replaced scratched discs that have been published by Microsoft. He also told me my only hope to get a new copy of the game was to go through the retailer, or through the game publisher.
I am a very easy going guy as my friends and family will attest to. I was not even truly angry at Microsoft for what happened during my service call or that they will not replace my disc. I was disappointed in their faulty product and tired of not gaming in peace. The looming threat of the red ring of death, which is not a question of “if it will come”, but “when will it come?”, and the possibility of the 360 scratching games led me to a realization. Too often we gamers tie ourselves to certain consoles or combinations of consoles. When the Wii was announced, the pure Nintendo fanboy inside came out. During the Wii dry spell, and after I had purchased the 360, I scorned the Playstation 3 and their insane price tags, preaching the Wii60 philosophy. To be fair, at the PS3 launch, you could buy a Wii and a Core 360 for the price of the lower end PS3.
I decided after the events lifted that I will no longer tolerate using a defective product which makes me uncertain about the safety of my games or movies and my ability to enjoy them without conflict. I was extremely lucky to be able to return my opened Rock Band to Target for a full refund on my credit card. I also returned my 360 to Costco (if you have a membership, buy your consoles there!!) Using the Costco store credit, and the return money from Rock Band, I bought a 40GB PS3 bundle that came with Ratchet and Clank Future, an extra controller, and a DVD remote. In the end I was not out any money.
If you have read this far, you may be wondering why I made this switch and why I did not merely get my 360 repaired. I am missing out on a few great things by giving up my 360. Most of my friends have 360s and I will not be able to play online with them through Xbox Live. PSN is decent, but not nearly as robust as Xbox Live. I also did not have a chance to play through Mass Effect and I am a huge Bioware fan. A combination of different reasons led me to my decision.
One reason for my switch was if I wanted a high definition movie player with my console, I could either buy the HD-DVD add-on for the 360 at around $170, making the total cost of the Premium 360 comparable to the PS3, or I can merely get the PS3, which is a blu-ray player itself. I also did not want my third Xbox 360 to scratch my discs, and I did not want to go to a fourth 360 because of the red rings. It is absurd that consumers must even go past their second console to have one that works properly. While Xbox Live is great, I am enjoying the free online play and looking forward to the future of PSN. Home is very intriguing and I am very excited about Little Big Planet. Besides Halo, Mass Effect, and Too Human right now there are not many games exclusive the 360 that I cannot play on either PC or the PS3.
My purpose here was not say that Microsoft sucks, and I hope it did not read entirely like a flame post. I love the 360 when it worked and I am one of the few I know who use and like Vista over XP. However, I hope I have painted an accurate picture of the average consumer’s frustrations with Microsoft’s Xbox 360 console. I was lucky that I bought my console at Costco and very lucky that Target took back Rock Band. If not, I would be stuck in a cycle of sending my broken 360s back to Microsoft, waiting six weeks, and racking up a collection of scratched games for which I cannot get refunds.
I also would like to encourage gamers to have an open mind. If you are frustrated with a certain console, whatever it may be, and you want something different; take the plunge and try another. You will see that each has its strengths and weaknesses. This gamer just decided to take the route in which he would have the most peace of mind. I have found many little things to like about the PS3, including much less noise, the included Spider Man Blu-Ray, and PSN titles like Everyday Shooter. Without an Xbox to play them on, I traded in my Xbox library and bought four more games for my PS3. I wanted to make sure that I got mostly exclusive and high rated games. My library includes: Assassin’s Creed, Rachet and Clank Future, Uncharted: Drakes Fortune, Resistance: Fall of Man, and Warhawk.
So far, I have tried all of them except for Resistance and they are very fun. Another interesting side note is that a week before my purchase of a PS3, I traded in some games to get the Daxter PSP pack. Perhaps it is some strange twist of fate that I now own two more Sony gaming devices and the only Microsoft things in the house are Vista and Office 2004 for the Mac. No longer do I live in a Wii60 household, but a PSWii World. read