Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Anniversary Xbox 360

Xbox 360 is 1 year old today - I'm sorry. I'm sorry I'm making you look at a picture of a young Danny Bonaduce (feel free to get some Partridge Family songs stuck in your head) but you have to admit its hard not to stare at. The dude is a troll! Seriously, its like looking at a car accident. Adult Danny doesn't look much better but at least this picture is disturbing to the point of being funny. Totally unintentional of course but funny none the less.

So why am I torturing you? Because today Microsoft is torturing me. Its the one year anniversary of the Xbox 360 and the company is celebrating with downloadable movies, TV and music videos. When I first mentioned this on the blog, I was pretty stoked. I imagined something like iTunes. So far (and yes, I realize it hasn't even been 24 hours yet) I'm a little disappointed. For starters there are only 5 music videos and one of them is with some dancing penguin from the movie "Happy Feet". They are free, which is good, but for crying out loud give me more choices than that.

There are a decent amount of movies but you don't get to keep them. They only last 2 weeks then they're gone, they're only rentals. Now why the heck would I rent "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn" (I already own it so I wouldn't do this anyway, best Star Trek movie of all time in my opinon)? If I pay for a movie that old, I should own it. If I rent something it should be a recent release. I'm not sure if thats how it works for TV shows yet because I bought an episode of "South Park" and its been downloading for a couple of hours...A COUPLE OF HOURS!

Now I realize there might be some opening day issues. Download times may be longer than normal due to heavy use on the first day and the opening lineup should be expanded fairly quickly (I hope) but I'm still disappointed. Not by the selection of downloads or the non-sensical pricing but by the download times - they're just awful. Now granted, I know that downloads on iTunes for movies and TV shows are almost as bad but at least I can walk away from my computer and it still downloads. If my 360 goes into sleep mode the download stops. Same thing happens if I want to play a game. Sorry, but I just don't have the time.

In order to compete with iTunes, which is obviously what Microsoft is trying to do, they need to make sure downloads are completed quickly. They should also put more recent episodes of TV shows up and they will seriously need to broaden their movie and music video selection in order to compete.

Okay, so its not the second coming of iTunes. The good news is that Microsoft has set themselves up for success in the future if they do this right, IF. Hopefully this won't end up like the Xbox Live Camera, just another bright idea that became an unfulfilled novelty.

Gears sells big - Yesterday Microsoft announced that "Gears of War" has sold 1 million copies in its first two weeks of release. Its the fastest selling game of 2006 and the fastest selling original Xbox title of all time. There have been 10 million online sessions already.

That's pretty impressive. I've been working my way through the single-player and it certainly is a lot of fun. I haven't tackled "Gears" online but I'm looking forward to it. I can't really say how good this game is without playing it online but my initial impressions are that its a very good game. Judging by the sales numbers, gamers are itching for something to keep them occupied until Halo 3, which is what it looks like "Gears" will do.

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