Microsoft is one of those companies that doesn’t seem to be able to find that middle ground that other businesses take for granted. You either love them, or you hate them — there is no in between. Lately, it’s been especially hard for the software giant, with negative Xbox 360 news cropping up with increasing frequency.
By now, most Xbox 360 owners have either already experienced the disappointment of the highly publicized hardware failures. It’s been an expensive undertaking, but Microsoft has somehow
conditioned convinced most of its loyal customers that everything is going to be all right, even when gaming forums and the Internet in general seem to say otherwise.
The Xbox 360 is an amazing device when it works, and overall, is worthy of the praise by most accounts. Unfortunately, the 360’s hardware isn’t the only gremlin that’s been chipping away at Microsoft’s already battered image. This time, Microsoft’s ace in the hole — Xbox Live — is the source of suffering.
More on this, after the jump:
It kind of seems strange that a software giant such as Microsoft would underestimate the potential demands that new items such as map packs can place on servers, but it looks like that may have been the case with the recent release of the variety map pack for Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Gamers pounced on the map pack en masse, and in the process pretty much brought Xbox Live to a screeching halt.
Some gamers were met with various connection errors on Live, redeeming Microsoft Points became impossible for others, and it wasn’t long before general discord towards the paid-for service began to show up in forums and blogs (including our own). Still stinging from the last outage that lasted for the better part of a month, some Xbox 360 owners have started questioning if they are indeed getting that high level of service that they are paying for.
Overall, I’d have to say a resounding yes to that. This is the second embarrassing outage that Microsoft has had to deal with in recent memory, but as a whole, the service does seem to be pretty stable. Paid service or not, we have to come to terms with the fact that there will always be times where a loss of service is going to be a reality. Contrary to popular belief on the Internet, the 100% uptime rule is a myth. Much like your cable and telephone services, outages are to be expected from time to time.
Even so, Microsoft would do well to do a better job of forecasting potential disruptions, especially during times (like new maps for popular games are released) when common sense dictates that the current server load is going to spike to abnormal levels. In turn, they would be dodging the potential grief that big names like Microsoft have committees steered towards quieting in the first place.
The good news is that Xbox Live has recovered from the physical beating it took as a result from being unprepared for the surge in demand of its service. The bad news is that the anti-Xbox 360 crowd has probably recruited a few more people as a result — some of the same people that have been defending it tooth and nail since bad news first descended upon the console in the first place. With the PlayStation 3 gaining favor with gamers with each passing day, and with a relatively stable online structure of its own in place for free — this isn’t exactly a good time for Microsoft to continue to drop the ball.
I just hope Sony is keeping a close eye on this, and takes the necessary steps to ensure that PS3 owners don’t suffer a similar fate when their CoD 4 map pack finally arrives.