Huge Sales Are Coming to the Xbox 360 Just in Time for the Holidays

Sales

Not able to get in early on the next generation by purchasing an Xbox One, Wii U, or PS4? Don’t worry because with the holidays approaching, you happen to be in luck.

No I don’t mean insane deals are coming on one of those systems (though that certainly is possible), but rather that the previous gen console you own is about to see some serious drops in game prices, allowing you to go back and play some of those great games you may have missed the first time around.

While PC holiday deals started on Amazon and other outlets some time ago, it looks like the Xbox 360 is the first console to throw its hat into the holiday sale madness ring by offering up a host of hugely discounted titles starting today through Xbox Live.

What’s available? Well for now you can get a host of Arcade greats such as “Mark of the Ninja,” “Dust,” and “The Cave,” while some AAA greats like “Fallout 3” (and all the available DLC’s), “Tomb Raider,” “Sleeping Dogs,” and “Skyrim” for 50% – 75% off.

However, it appears that the real deals are coming later in the week, as one day only sales are available on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This is particularly true of the Cyber Monday collection which features some best of generation titles like “Red Dead Redemption,” “Dark Souls,” “The Witcher 2,” “L.A. Noire,” and “Far Cry: Blood Dragon,” all for 75% off.

The full list of games can be found here and, while this is quite honestly nothing in comparison to the PC sales available this time of year, for 360 owners who aren’t ready to make the next gen jump and need some truly great games to play around with during the holidays, this is a sale you absolutely have to take advantage of.

The Top 5 Biggest Gaming Mistakes Microsoft Has Made

The popular theory that no press is bad press was put to the test for Microsoft when their unveiling of the Xbox One was met with a series of very humorous memes, and a stunningly low approval rating, that many would have a hard time calling good press.

As bad as it was though, it’s not exactly the worst tragedy in the history of mankind, the video game industry or, for that matter, even Microsoft’s gaming division.

So while the controversial Xbox One may prove to be their biggest bust of all, for now let’s all keep things in perspective by revisiting the top five biggest mistakes Microsoft has ever made.

5. The Duke

Xbox-Duke-Controller

A controller is one of the most important parts of launching a video game system, and when that system is your first one ever, may even come to define part of your image for all time.

If that is true, then unfortunately part of Microsoft’s image will always be that of a big fat failure.

“The Duke” as it would commonly be referred to, was a gargantuan gaming controller recognized by Guiness as one of the largest of all time, and by everyone else as one of the worst. Awkward for most, and impossible for some, “The Duke” would later be phased out in favor of the Japanese model “Controller S.”

Though it would lead to one of best controller designs of all time in the “360 Wireless,” few will ever forget the pain and hand aches associated with “The Duke.”

4. HD-DVD

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Though Blu-Ray hasn’t exactly set the world on fire in the way that DVD’s did, Toshiba’s similar “HD-DVD” format didn’t even make a spark.

Yet when it came time to support a next-gen disc format, which one do you think Microsoft chose?

In a way it’s difficult to fault them for doing so, since at that time the format wars were far fom resolved, and Sony was a big backer of Blu-Ray, but try telling that to everyone that jumped the gun and bought a 360 HD-DVD player, only to have it collecting dust along with a small stack of HD-DVD titles less than a year later.

3. Acquiring Rare

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When Microsoft acquired developer Rare for a cool $375 million, it looked like they had pulled off one of the great gaming coups of all time. After all, Rare was only one of the most storied developers ever, and had produced the greatest N64 games this side of Nintendo.

Much like a brilliant assistant coach leaving Bill Belichick though, once Rare was free from the umbrella of Nintendo’s influence, they would flounder in the spotlight.

While the re-make of “Conker” for Xbox was fun, and the 360 launch game “Kameo: Elements of Power” was decent enough, it was that other 360 launch title “Perfect Dark Zero” that would define their future with Microsoft.

It’s a future that includes titles ranging from boring to broken, with hardly a commercial or critical hit to be found. While some gamers hold out hope for the glorious return of one of gaming’s most famed developers, or maybe just a new “Killer Instinct,” it’s looking less and less likely the 11 year old mega deal will ever pan out.

2. Lack of Support for the Japanese Market

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As one of the first U.S. grown gaming systems to make it, Microsoft has always had a strained relationship with gamers from the land of the rising sun.

You could argue that they are up against a cultural barrier that isn’t entirely their fault, but from soft system launches in Japan to serious issues in successively seeking out major Japanese developer’s support, Microsoft has done no favors for themselves when trying to gain the support of the creatively, and financially, lucrative Japanese market.

In many ways it feels like they’ve completely written off the idea of ever really selling in Japan and, as a result, guarantee they will never be able to make a serious impact on their biggest rivals until they do.

1. The Red Rings of Death

Xbox360-ringofdeath

Really, what else could it be?

The Xbox 360 did a lot of great things for gaming, but instead of being remembered for the brilliance of Xbox Live, or an assortment of classic titles, the lasting image of the 360 will always be blinking red lights indicating a massive system failure that almost every 360 owner has had to experience at some point, or at the least fear forever.

Though a return and re-furbish option became available, once you got the red rings, you never really escaped them, just as Microsoft would never be able to escape the issue, even late into the system’s life span when the lights would become far less prevalent.

Instead the red lights of death are Microsoft’s version of herpes, in that they dealt with it once, and it’s now with them forever.

Much Like the Kinect, Microsoft’s Latest Decision to Take the Control of Games out of the Gamer’s Hands, Will be a Failure

 

I may never get a chance to do so elsewhere, so let me pay tribute to one of my favorite critics, the late, great Roger Ebert, by paraphrasing his famous review of the film “North” to convey my feelings on the news that the next Xbox will likely require you to always be online.

I hate that idea. Hate it, hate it, hate it, hate it, hate it. Hate it. I hate every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting implication of it. It hate the sensibility that thinks anyone will like it. I hate the implied insult to the audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it.

While still not the official Microsoft statement, the recent, and soon to be infamous, tweets of Microsoft creative director Adam Orth on the subject seem to imply that if Microsoft isn’t already committed to the idea of making a console that requires an internet connection, they’ve certainly considered it.

Specifically he summed up the notion of a console that requires an internet connection with three simple words.

“Deal with it.”

Used as a rebuttal to every befuddled complaint thrown his way, Adam Orth would like it very much if we never dare question the motivations or intentions of Microsoft again. Because of these outlandish and insulting comments, Microsoft is now the ones who have to “deal with it,” as they scramble to make sure everyone knows that the views of Adam Orth “Do not reflect the customer centric views we take to our products.”

If you haven’t done so already, please take a moment to laugh at that statement. You can either laugh at the implication that the creative director of Microsoft’s views somehow do not reflect the company he works for, or have a chuckle at the fact that the problem isn’t his viewpoints necessarily, but rather that he couldn’t say them in a more PR friendly manner.

Whatever you do though, don’t take this situation seriously. I do not mean to expect these rumors to turn out to be false (they most likely aren’t), but rather do not join the legions who will suddenly give credence to the notion of an online required console as a possible evolution of the medium, or attempt to play the devil’s advocate on the subject by attempting to analyze the notion as an inevitability.

For supporting this idea, Microsoft  is simply wrong. They were wrong when they released consoles that died more frequently than a light bulb, and they are wrong again in creating a new system that once again suggests that purchasing a console and owning a game does not guarantee your ability to use either.

There is no logical argument that exists to support a DRM system in the current state the technology exists in, for anyone not on the corporate take. While there are an abundance of logical arguments against the system, none should be used to entertain this particular notion. Instead, if you are opposed to this idea, please just laugh uncontrollably at it anytime a Microsoft representative brings up the idea publically, in order to pay the same respect to them, that they do to you by supporting DRM.

If the next generation Xbox is online only, it should also come with a statement that all owners must sign, have notarized, and officially submit to a court of law. That statement will read:

“We hereby wave our right to ever complain through any available medium regarding any technical issues that may arise preventing us from using our systems. We have weighed our options to choose rationality and common sense against blind allegiance, and have chosen to deal with it.”

Are the Xbox’s Days Numbered?

If you can get past the irony of someone on Yahoo calling anything else outdated and irrelevant, there was an interesting article up on there recently, where writer Jay Yarrow of Yahoo’s business section painted a doomsday picture of Microsoft’s future in the video game industry. In it, the idea is presented that the PC giant may no longer have the clout and financial stability needed to stay in the video game industry.

His points are numerous, but they all center around the same basic idea that in a world that is constantly adapting more to the idea of smartphone and tablet use, the field of personal computer operations the Redmond based PC royalty once called its kingdom is no longer strong enough to keep them relevant. What’s worse is that they are not only losing ground in the home market, but more and more businesses are turning to using Macs as well. He adds to both these points by noting that Microsoft’s latest attempts to reclaim the tech throne with Windows 8 (and the systems that support it) as well as the surface tablet aren’t exactly making the impact culturally or financially to take a bite of Apple.

It’s hard to argue with any of those claims, as Microsoft’s recent financial shortcomings are well documented. However, the controversial idea presented is that as Microsoft looks to shore up its base operations for the changes of the coming world, the gaming division may be seen as expendable. The exact figure presented is that of Microsoft’s $21 billion income last year, only $364 million of it came from the Xbox division.

How I View $364 Million is, Apparently, Inaccurate

It’s a damning argument with a lot of big numbers behind it, but I find it to be ultimately flawed. For one thing, the biggest problem facing Microsoft right now is that they weren’t able to anticipate the coming changes in the technological world and make the necessary operational adaptions to keep up with them.

The 360 is the exception though. Outside of the notoriously stingy Japanese market, they have managed to make the Xbox name synonymous with mainstream gaming in a way that names like Nintendo and Playstation used to know. It’s sales figures continue to astound each quarter, Xbox Live is by far the most capable and complete of online services, the Kinect is an amazing piece of popular (if flawed) technology, and, even though exclusives aren’t as important as they used to be, the Xbox has some of the best and even more importantly is the most popular destination for major cross platform releases, due in large part to the technical issues inherent in PS3 releases and the limitations and adaptations required for Wii ports. The 360 managed to survive a shaky start that was highlighted by three glowing red rings of failure, to become the most complete system on the market.

While it’s true the Microsoft Xbox division launched in more prosperous financial times, since then in one mere generation it has managed to become a symbol of modern gaming, a household name, and the most consistent and inventive aspect of all of Microsoft’s operations in the last few years in terms of finances and public reception. While Microsoft’s current situation make the next Xbox a tricky prospect that may become more dependent on more gimmicky aspects like Kinect to become a more complete entertainment set piece and not “just” a gaming console in order to take a calculated risk in maintaining its position without breaking the bank, the fact remains that they would be stupid to write off the only part of their company that isn’t seriously lagging behind another major competitor.

Instead the reality is a little more frightening. If Microsoft can’t pick up the slack in every other field but gaming, then, and only then, will the Xbox fall. Even though the Xbox can’t claim responsibility for Microsoft’s current situation, it’s fate is still directly tied into the company overall, and all things considered, that’s not necessarily a brighter future.

The Epitaph of Microsoft?

My first Kinect experience was underwhelming

Kinect Adventures.As part of this weekend’s festivities, Spike set up a gaming lounge in one of the suites at the Four Seasons with a couple different systems sporting current titles for our enjoyment. It’s a little odd to try to sit down and play some games with people you’ve literally just met, especially on a console. Console gaming, at least locally, is sort of an intimate affair. You’re right next to one another, can immediately see whether your teammate/opponent is doing well.

Kinect augments this experience tenfold, because suddenly you’re doing these really foolish things in order to control the game. I started on a game called “Kinect Adventures,” which had me jumping up and down and leaning left and right to control a small raft. The camera had a hard time nailing me down at times, and even when it did find me it was a little sluggish. The worst part, though, was that it took pictures of me in these ridiculous poses and then showed them to the room when I finished a run. I’m not a particularly bashful person, but literally no one was willing to give the game a shot after seeing that.

It seems like Kinect could be very cool for a young family or maybe in the right dorm room, but it’s definitely not something you should do with people you don’t know.

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