December 12, 2009

Xbox Live: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

I've had my Xbox for just over a 6 weeks now. My trial of Xbox Live Gold went without a glitch. I was gaming merrily with friends on a network I perceived to be superior to PlayStation Network (PSN). Overlooking the fact that the hardware is "terrible" – I can't over look that... rant:

Since the dawn of PS3 (before Slim) and 360 there's been discussion on technical blogs about how "fat" the PS3 is. It's not a small console, but come one people, the Xbox has an external power supply brick that's half the size of the PS3 - and still the 360 is barely smaller. Also, I thought people were exaggerating the fact that the Xbox is loud. They're not. The disc drive is ridiculously loud and when the fans kick in it's like someone plugged in a vacuum cleaner. /rant.

This gives the consoles a draw for me. Sony's hardware is superior to Microsoft's, but Microsoft's strong point is the software. While I find the New Xbox Experience user interface unintuitive and harder to navigate than Sony's XMB, the Live experience is amazing, well worth the $60 / year.

Back to my point, my Gold trial membership went without a glitch - all of this changed in a second when it was time to turn my trial membership into a real membership and pay up. I signed on to xbox.com and attempted to add my credit card information. Long story short - turns out I left my Live Account in the US when I signed up, instead of switching over to Canada. Microsoft has a "limitation" in their billing system that won't let a person change country once the gamer tag was started. DRM anyone? So, I had to "cancel" (more to that later) my account and restart a new gamer tag in Canada so I could add my Canadian credit card on the account - without the option of migrating anything over to the new account. Luckily I've only been playing for a month...

Xbox Live: The Good

  • Provides a fantastic online gaming experience
  • Servers are filled and fast
  • Parties are awesome
  • Better than PSN
The Bad
  • Don't ever think about moving to another country, you'll lose anything
    • Unless, you buy your country's Xbox redeem vouchers online
The Ugly
  • Xbox Live customer support - shockingly terrible
    • I was told by two reps that I could in fact change my country, but they couldn't seem to do it at the moment
    • A supervisor finally told me that I couldn't due to the "limiation" in the billing system
    • You can't cancel your account. Ever.
    • You can "close" your profile, but they will keep your gamer tag active
      • The reason for this, according to the rep "closing" my account, is that I am located in Canada trying to close a US gamer tag.
While I was lucky that I didn't lose much of my achievements and gamer points moving to my new account, it will be quite terrible should I ever move back to Germany.

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