Kinect – Dashboard Overlord – Plus Other Microsoft Ranting

Microsoft has seriously been fucking up my perception of the words “gamer” and “console” lately. Kinect, while uber-cool and the self-proclaimed next big thing and a bag of Funyons, has taken over the Xbox Live dashboard on nearly every damn panel. They haven’t just overtaken 80% of the Live panels, they’ve also filled it with content that is so overtly sappy and safe that even your corpse of a grandmother is supposed to know how to do the Minority Report wave to watch flicks on Zune.

The Kinect Show <- WTF is this? We're being buttslammed with advertising already, with trailers for shite movies and Wendy's cheeseburgers (yeah gamers need more of those). Now we have to watch a "show" that basically asks "So...why haven't you bought THIS yet?" I know that's what all game trailers basically are, but I sorta feel like I can decide if I want it or not. At least the host is much less annoying than Trixie360. Anyone besides me actually remember her? When I hate something that much it's hard to forget. It's like the bitchy fat girl that was louder than everyone else in high school got a show about something you liked and ruined it. Another question...seriously, where the fuck is "SENTUAMESSAGE“, the best program on XBL or ANY of the 3 consoles? It did 3 things right:



1. It interacted with the community HONESTLY. Questions that might be avoided or skipped about quality issues or delayed release dates were attacked straight on. They treated the audience like many great gaming podcasts would, and for that they (and Microsoft in turn) earned some credibility and respect.

2. It was entertaining. There were genuinely laugh-out-loud (LOLZ) moments when the hosts would parody classic or current games. The live-action Mortal Kombat spoof where one host fumbled through a failed attempt at a fatality was a classic nod to how we all felt when we couldn’t remember the combo.

3. They weren’t loud, fat, unfunny Americans. I’m not saying Americans aren’t funny (90% of my favorite comedians are American). I’m saying Major Nelson, Tina Sumwhatever the Fuck, and new Kinect chick don’t know comedy. The two European hosts of SENTUAMESSAGE were funny, the end.

I speak in past tense about the show, but I hope that doesn’t mean Microsoft has permanently canned them. They need something that welcomes gamers to the Dashboard that doesn’t pander and makes them feel like the Xbox is for people that want the best all-around gaming experience. Please bring these guys back, soon. Kinect Saccharin Sweet Overload is starting to become a cancer (AND I HAVE A KINECT!!!)

OK, all the bitching is done. Now 2 things Microsoft did right this week for gamers:

1. OMG INDIE GAMES MOVED TO “GAMES” SECTION. Here’s the link, but basically Microsoft f’d up big time when they put out the latest Dashboard update last week. They moved the Indie Games panel to the Specialty Shops area, buried with the Avatard Clothes Mall Thing and Rock Band Store. Indie developers were pissed, and rightly so. But, what’s this? Microsoft responded in the best way possible. They moved them over to the GAMES section. This doesn’t often happen in the console space, so color me shocked. Now Indie Developers have a reason to be excited again. Hopefully they’ll respond in kind with less FUCKING MASSAGE/ZOMBIE GAMES.

2. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (the game) 50% off this week! Do you like River City Ransom? You don’t know what that is? Well do you like retro style beat em up’s with mini-RPG elements? Look, never mind. Just buy this game. It’s 5 bucks, probably to celebrate the release of the movie this week. But it’s a welcome change from the weird “18% off Assasin’s Creed Avatar Jock Strap” specials we’ve been seeing lately. PC Marketplaces have been stomping consoles as far as awesome deals go, and the results are all in the dollars. Steam developers, for example, have raved on and on about the bucks they pull in when their games are price-slashed for a weekend. Microsoft needs to pay close attention to this lesson. It’s like the old “Hot Dog Vendor” game I used to play on the old Apples in middle school (or lemonade stand or whatever). You lower your prices, you sell assloads. You don’t make as much per copy, but you sell to all those that NEVER would have bought the game to begin with. You also build relationships with your system owners, letting them know that you’re going to hook them up with quality products at a good price. WTG M$…

Bottom line… don’t forget the gamers (or the games!)

1 Vs. 100 Now None Vs. No One

Sadness, as the official nail in the coffin has been hammered for Xbox Live’s “1 Vs. 100”. A quiz game show you play with 1,000’s of other XBL members, 1 Vs. 100 was an interesting experiment that proved to be quite popular. Signed into your Xbox Live dashboard, you jumped into an arena with up to 100 other players and answer multiple choice questions on everything from films and entertainment to sports.

I was in on the beta of this, and from the first time I played it I thought that Microsoft had finally designed original content that didn’t make the user roll their eyes. This really felt like having one of those bar quiz games at home, except I could get hammered at home and not smell like Marlboro’s and desperation the next morning. Besides the constant annoying Sprint logo (though not nearly as annoying as Hulu ads), there was little that I didn’t like about it. Celebrity guests (Felicia Day is pretty much as cool on XBL as she is in person)? Prizes? (RELEVANT prizes too like Xbox Live Points) No additional fee? Yes please…

So either nothing awesome lasts forever, or maybe they no makey no money. Maybe Microsoft did their typical mismanagement of everything ever. But I’ll miss it. Supposedly the tech they developed here will move on to later greater things. We’ll see…
Check out their final blog here.