Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Why I will never buy an Xbox

I’ve read Opening the Xbox, a book which explains in details how the Xbox evolved from being an idea to the day it launched. The author, Dean Takahashi, reveals that originally Microsoft’s CEO Bill Gates wanted a complete “living room computing” solution. He envisioned that the Xbox user could, with one push of a button, switch from playing games to editing documents and spreadsheets right on the Xbox (no doubt using Microsoft Office). I learned a great deal about the economics of creating a console. However, the part that interested me most was the fact that deep inside, Xbox is a desktop PC with barebones Windows operating system and DirectX.

But to be fair, all consoles are some sort of a computer with an operating system. They all have processors, RAM, motherboards, optical disk drives, and hard disks. Why do I criticize just the Xbox for being a PC with Windows?

One of the major features of the Xbox, says Takahashi, is that game developers don’t need new tools to develop games. They can use the tools and software they already use to make Windows games. Since both Windows and Xbox use DirectX, they use the same instructions and game code. This means game developers will have a small learning curve to develop for the consol. But more importantly, they can port their PC games to Xbox (and vice versa) with ease. Surely this is much easier than porting games to Playstation 3. For me, this “feature” is the reason I stayed away from Xbox and Xbox360.

What this means is that most Xbox titles will eventually show up on PCs. This happened with almost all “exclusive” Xbox titles like Halo and Gears of War. It is a great way for game companies to make more money on big-name titles after they run their course on the Xbox. Just make the proper modifications to the game and port it to the PC and sell more titles.

I can buy an Xbox360 and restrain myself to its limited processor and hardware. Or I can buy a decent PC with a much better processor and graphics with the same price as the Xbox and play all Xbox games on it, when they are ported. All that while enjoying extra benefits that the PC offers like word processing and other software. You see, Bill Gates had the right idea but failed to follow up on it. That is why I will never buy an Xbox.

1 comment:

  1. I like the way you think. Just one question: Since the Xbox runs on Windows, does that mean it can get infected as well? How would one disinfect it?

    You might want to read this article on what causes The Red Ring of Death on Xbox360 (Also read the comments of the /. crowd)

    I think the existence of the xbox is useless, and in fact, bad for consumers. A company that already has a game on PC, would quickly port it to xbox, then after sometime, MAYBE port it to PS3. The problem is, the porting to the PS3 will be VERY poor.
    The PS3 uses much more sophisticated & advanced hardware & OS. Because of the vast differences between the xbox & the PS3, a company has to invest a lot, which not many do, to be able to do a good port to the PS3.

    A friend of mine has Winning 11 on PS3, and yesterday he was complaining thathe was getting a low frame-rate, which later, the game advised him to turn off the sound to get better frame-rate!!!!
    The PS3 has 7 active processors, but seems like the game was poorly ported to the PS3, resulting in a compromise of the user experience!