Dear Microsoft Legal Department,
I’m hoping that you maintain the same sense of humor that you had when the Windows 7 phone was first jailbroken and keep in mind that everything I’m about to say is hypothetical, constructive criticism from a near-rabid consumer of your goods. Also, this is satire, which is protected by the First Amendment, so please don’t make like Sony and sue me. (By the way, guys, what Sony’s doing could be described as farce; what I just wrote is known as a disclaimer as defined by Kevin Smith). Now that the legal stuff is out of the way, let’s discuss the multitude of sins you have committed against your Xbox 360 consumer base, commonly referred to as “gamers,” e.g., me, GiffTor.
Thou shalt not be miserly with drive space
Look, I know it’s fun to have proprietary gear and since you got passed in market capitalization by another technology company who shalt not be named, reducing you to playing Dr. Harleen Francis Quinzel to this other company’s Joker, it’s probably pretty tempting to be more closed-source rather than less, but opening up your system to USB Flash Drives as a secondary storage option while limiting storage space to 16GB is like offering Moses some extra-salty potato chips after his little sojourn in the desert. The $130 250GB XBox hard drive is a joke along the lines of an acid-squirting flower. You packed a standard laptop hard drive into some plastic and put a warranty-voiding sticker on the case and charged thirteen (13) times the going rate per-gigabyte of storage and didn’t figure anyone was going to publish an illustrated how-to in swapping out the hard drive?
Ever since someone in Redmond figured that they could cut down on the oscillating screech of deafening proportions emitted by the crappy DVD drive installed in your system by letting your consumers install portions of games on the hard drive and the available HD-movie library through XBLA/Netflix got big enough to be worth using, drive space started getting tight like (insert your own dirty metaphor here, I’m not doing it for you). I’ve got a 32GB micro-SD card in my phone that was ~$100 and it’s smaller than a dime. I don’t want to fire terms like “price gouging” across your bow or anything, but you might suggest to your marketing department that $1.92/GB could be called the Microsoft Tax in homage to another company with a fruit logo that charges double the price of an equivalently performing PC that also has an on-demand HD-movie streaming service, which brings me to my next point.
Thou shalt look up the definition of “On Demand”
Before you run off to see if “On Demand” is in Black’s Law Dictionary and start drafting a litany of reasons why the absurdly long download times for the movies available on XBLA/Netflix are either a PEBCAK or AT&T’s fault, I’m going to stop you the same way I stop AT&T when they try and tell me that the audio issues I have with the U-verse box and the optical audio out are the fault of my receiver: I’ve got parallel components that work just fine, so deductive reasoning says that the problem is at your end. “On demand” means that when I go to HBO on Demand on my U-Verse, I can watch all of True Blood right then in a marathon viewing session, not that I’ve ever done that. “On Demand” means that when I hit the Netflix On Demand on my Samsung Blu-Ray Player that is hooked up to my router via CAT 5 cable, I can watch The A Team without having to change out of my pajamas and drive to Best Buy to buy it. Call your secretaries…ah, administrative assistants and tell them to take a memo: what “On Demand” does not mean is that I order a movie before I leave for work in the morning so that enough of it is downloaded so that I can watch it when I get home (even though if it’s not 100% downloaded, I can’t use FF/RW). Make sure you cite gamer tag GiffTor in the footnotes when you draft your advisory opinion to the XBLA division that suggests they quit calling it “On Demand” or figure out a way to throttle things up. I’d suggest taking resources away from the biggest waste of space you’ve got out there in the ether…Avatars.
Thou shalt not pander to Nintendo’s casual gamers
Give me a minute. I’m trying to avoid acting like the U.S. Congress and maintain civility here.
Okay. Imagine, if you will, that you’re speaking to a small child about something that is important and complicated, so you have to phrase it in smaller, more easily digestible words.
That’s the tone I’m using with you now. I appreciate the fact that you want to make changes to the GUI every once in a while to spruce it up and make it more intuitive to use. In light of some of the discussions we’ve had recently on HorribleNight.com, I think your updates are almost universally acceptable both in terms of how long they take to download and how they improve the user experience. But introducing Avatars that look vaguely like the offspring of a drunken night of unprotected sex between a Sim and a Square Enix character so that you could jump on Nintendo’s bandwagon (boy, that was a good idea, huh?), you crossed the invisible and arbitrary line that I have drawn between the good things that came about because of the Wii and those that are intolerable. I’m going with the working assumption that no one has mentioned this to you, but ensconcing this guy‘s avatar into WarHammer 40K space marine armor looks ridiculous and it’s an affront to nature. Speaking of affronts to nature…
Thou shalt not sabotage your battery cases
I’ve heard your (former) boss is pretty big on saving the planet and has put his money where his mouth is. I don’t have those kinds of resources, but I do try and do my part by recycling, properly disposing of my used electronics, switching to CFLs and trying to minimize what I put into the waste stream by buying things like the Rayovac rechargeable batteries I use. I know you have a separate charging station that I could buy, but let’s face it – that’s one more thing I would have cluttering my entertainment center and since you’re already adding more than your fair share to the rat’s nest of wires hidden behind it since I have to deal with 3 video output cables and an optical audio instead of one HDMI cable, I’m going with the rechargeable batteries since they work in my remote controls, clocks and other battery-powered devices, too. Here’s the problem, Esquires and Esquiresses: for the $50 cost of the cordless Xbox 360 controller, you could at least put some QA towards the tolerances of the battery cases of those controllers. Of the 4 completely functional controllers that I own (and the 3 semi-functional ones I keep for spare parts), only two of them have matching battery cases because the ones that they came with either didn’t securely latch and would fall out at really inopportune moments (like a chainsaw duel) or the contact springs weren’t set quite right and didn’t hold the batteries firmly in place resulting in more grisly online deaths.
Even though I’ve spent 1,200 words bitching about it, I’m a big, big fan of your product, but I’m going to need you to start cranking up your billable hours and letting the other departments know that without some more careful attention to the average market cost of drive space, what “On Demand” means, that both Mother Nature and God hate your Avatars and that poor QA on battery cases results in the deaths of puppies, the entire Microsoft empire is going to come crashing down in a flaming, sulfurous heap…or I’ll consider writing a more strongly worded letter, one of the two.
PS – Unless you want to take on that heartless bitch Sallie Mae for the souls of my unborn children, please don’t sue me.
Mail This – Being motivated enough to write a letter is one thing, but being motivated to write a fake letter is an entirely different matter. Someone in the gaming industry needs to hear about this.