Once upon a time there lived a boy and his Xbox 360. For the longest time they were an inseparable duo, travelling everywhere together, doing everything together. They went to the Italian renaissance, befriended turians and krogans, and even went bowling with Roman.
The boy was delighted, of course, by every adventure. He played with the Xbox every day. It was the first of its generation that he owned, and the wealth of new content available to him was astounding. So he immersed himself in worlds he never thought possible before.
When he’d had enough of those worlds, he moved to multiplayer experiences, something he’d never been able to do before. Entire weekends were lost to Halo 3, ranking up with his friends in online matches and making daredevil runs with them in the co-op campaign. $70 a year to play online? He could handle that. He was having more than enough fun to justify that price.
Sometimes he didn’t even use it to play games. Through his Xbox he would watch a movie in bed when he was sick, or on the couch when he was procrastinating from schoolwork. He’d even plug in his iPod and play music through his TV, just because he could. His Xbox was a jack of all trades.
The Xbox never failed him. It changed its appearance, and sometimes that bothered him, but it still functioned. The boy had heard of other Xboxes dying after a few years, he’d heard of the fabled Red Ring of Death, but his Xbox never suffered that affliction, and even after four and a half years, it remained strong.
Then one day, everything changed. The boy woke up and found himself uninterested in his Xbox. His attention turned to the Playstation 3, which for two years had sat gathering dust beside the Xbox, envying it.
The glory days were over.
Alright, perhaps it’s a bit dramatic to say that I woke up one day and wasn’t interested in my Xbox anymore, but it’s something I’ve come to think about more and more this year. I don’t really know what caused it, it just happened. I’m using both my PS3 and my PC more than ever, and that’s having an effect on both how I use and perceive my Xbox.
I’ve had a longstanding rule: if a game exists on both 360 and PS3, I buy the 360 version. I don’t think there was a good reason for that rule being created, but I’ve stuck by it, even with games like L.A. Noire or Max Payne 3 that were on multiple discs for the 360. My 360 has been my primary gaming device. Suddenly that rule is crumbling. I’m buying multiplatform games on the PS3 or for my PC. Bar a brief jaunt in the Halo 4 multiplayer, I can’t remember the last time I properly used my 360 for gaming. My Xbox Live subscription runs out in a month, and for the first time I have no interest in renewing it. For me, that’s quite a dramatic development.
There’s something off about the Xbox 360 right now. The latest dashboard updates have clogged the dashboard with ads, and for whatever reason, loading the 360’s dashboard is taking absurd lengths of time now. It’s reached the point that I can be sitting for five minutes with a loading icon on my screen and no sign of any progress. I have to restart the console for it to work. At first I thought this was a fault of my console alone, being an almost five-year-old 20GB model, but if my Twitter feed is anything to go by this isn’t a problem exclusive to me.
I don’t think this attitude is anything new. Consider it like going through a phase, or a fad. But it’s certainly a bad time for this kind of thing, right on the cusp of new console announcements, where the rumour mill is turning fast and we’re already beginning to think about which console we might like. It shouldn’t have happened, but the 360 has left a sour taste in my mouth, and now I read these rumours with a mix of hesitation and disappointment. Of course their rumours, of course we can’t confirm it either way, but I read about an advanced Kinect sensor that is always on and always watching and I can’t help but be concerned.
It’s not that I harbour any ill-will towards Microsoft all of a sudden. I can’t forget the glory days and all the wonderful games I’ve played (although I’d like to forget that awful Green Lantern game, why do I even own that?!) as a result of owning the console. But when I look at the Xbox 360 as it was then, and look at it now, it’s definitely changed. That change was gradual, but it’s finally caught up with me. Maybe it’s time to move on.
I don’t like to define myself as a certain type of gamer. I’m not an Xbox gamer, or a PC gamer, or anything of the sort. I’m someone who just enjoys playing games. Somebody who isn’t really using his Xbox for gaming anymore. And that’s a little sad.