Making the Switch: Preparing to Abandon the Xbox 360

By Kenneth Richardson

September 7, 2010

Hello all. For the past three years I have played nearly all my console games on the Xbox 360. It had nothing to do with bias; I only had the 360 because the PS3 was much, much too expensive in my opinion. I originally wanted a PS3, but I saw no point in sulking about it. I was most excited about multi-platform games at that time anyway. However, I fully expected the PS3 to take off and become the butterfly of the console race, like the PS2 did last generation. So, in this same vein of thought I purchased a PS3 about six months ago. Since that time, I haven’t really used my PS3 much. I like to copy all of my songs from my iPod over to it, just in the event that I need them, but as far as gaming I never went beyond demos.

The thing was that multi-platforms were all that held my attention at the time. I honestly never played 360 exclusives seriously, with the only exception being Dead or Alive 4. I had friends who were into Halo and Gears of War but those games simply weren’t very entertaining in my opinion. Also, and it’s hard for me to say this without sounding like I owe a certain allegiance to a specific console, but none of the PS3 exclusives looked interesting to me either. Seriously, even to this day, I’ll tell you that Killzone 2, Uncharted 2, Resistance 2, they all look so lame in my opinion.

All those games had nice graphics, but I simply couldn’t imagine myself playing or enjoying them. I had absolutely nothing against my PlayStation though. I think that perhaps it just arrived too late in the game. Not only that but I’ve been severely underwhelmed by console exclusives recently. The one exception to this is LittleBigPlanet, which I will readily admit is one of the best gaming experiences I’ve ever had. Other than that, I was kept perfectly happy by the likes of Devil May Cry 4, The Orange Box, BioShock, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Unreal Tournament 3, the list goes on.

So why then, if I’m so content with multi-platform gaming, would I be switching from one console to another? Well, it has a lot to do with last week’s reveal that we would be paying more per year for Xbox Live. I mean seriously, do they not think that fifty dollars a year is enough? I heard that MS made something like a billion dollars off the service last year, yet they are increasing the price. I don’t think it’s fair. I had thought about switching primarily to the PS3 for my online gaming a while ago, but with this announcement I think the time is about right.

I am in no way saying that Xbox Live is not a good service, possibly well worth the investment given whatever they’re going to add later down the line. As for ESPN, I am not a fan of sports at all. Actually, I hate sports, so the idea of seeing ESPN when I load up my 360 actually makes me want Xbox Live less rather than more. I think the big problem here is that with this price increase, many are starting to evaluate the merits of the XBL service. I believe I am part of a very rare group of gamers that game mainly on the Xbox 360 despite owning a PS3.

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I have never scratched out which online service I thought was better because, both of them contain a wealth of content that I just don’t find very important. However, for PSN to be free and for XBL to be fifty, now sixty dollars per year, I’m not seeing what exactly makes XBL better than PSN. I realize that XBL has a few features that PSN does not and vice versa, but is the difference between them worth an entire sixty dollars per year? At this point, even if XBL was summarily better than PSN, one of them is free.

The eminent question is, why should I continue to pay for XBL while PSN is free? This age old argument is given new life with the announcement of the XBL price rise. I’m going to be frankly honest with you, I only payed for XBL so I could play online. Honestly. I didn’t get it for the Twitter or Facebook apps, or Last.FM or Netflix. You can do all of those things on a PC. I only payed my seven bucks a month so that I could put in a game, jump online, and own my friends in Super Street Fighter IV. I’m not implying that all of those other things aren’t nice, but they aren’t why I upgraded to gold.

So now I have to decide whether or not to pay sixty dollars a year for a largess of arguably useless features and the ability to play online. Does anyone see the silver lining in this situation, because I certainly don’t. Let’s take a more optimistic approach. What would I get on PSN in return for well…nothing? You get a cool web browser, which is noticably absent from the Xbox 360. With this web browser, I can visit Twitter, Facebook, Last.FM even YouTube, and Wikipedia. So already it runs on par with the XBL service, despite the fact that it’s free.

You can send pictures to friends effortlessly. XBL allows you to do the same, but you would first have to buy an Xbox 360 camera accessory (why am I not surprised). You can also copy music, pictures, and videos from your iPod or multimedia device. The 360 plainly doesn’t allow you to do this. You get all these excellent features for the one time payment of free and I’m not done yet.

The crowning jewel of PSN, that last blade in the side of XBL is the online play, 100% free online play. Remember when I said that gaming online was the only reason I paid for XBL? Well imagine receiving that exact same luxury for free. Imagine popping in SSFIV, jumping online, and owning a friend at no cost. When you’ve paid for XBL as long as I have, the idea is almost unrealistic.

Again, XBL isn’t bad and I know many people will still say it’s worth it to continue paying, thanks to some perks such as cross-game chat and universal party invites. Some will even feel like the new price is justified by additional LIVE features such as ESPN. But in reality if gaming online is most important to you, like it is to me, these things do little to warrant sixty dollars per year. At least when you compare them to $0 (free) a year.

Now I’m a few in the hole because I own absolutely no games for my PS3, not even a controller. It sat in the back of my mom’s closet collecting dust, waiting patiently for Kingdom Hearts 3 or the first PS3 exclusive Final Fantasy (and not an MMO), until now.

Now I will be getting all forthcoming multi-platform and online games for my PS3 instead of the Xbox. While I will be leaving behind a wealth of friends and practices that I’ve grown accustomed to over the last few years, I think it’s a fair trade. At least I know my PSN account will never be banned because I forgot to upgrade my account with my new CC information. I’m pretty sure that now my Xbox will probably go into my mom’s closet.

People have always been telling me to switch to PS3 but I saw no viable reason to do this until now. Yes, online gaming has always been free for PS3 but remember I only got my PS3 earlier this year and there was really nothing exclusive to it that interested me on the console. I figured that paying a premium that I was already accustomed to somehow outshined the idea of buying a game for PS3 simply for the free online.

The fact now is that while there is still nothing huge about the console, MS has single handedly turned me away from the Xbox by making me evaluate what exactly I was paying for and seeing how it stacked up to the competition. I will probably still play my Fallout 3 and Bayonetta on the 360, but going forward, MS will not make another penny off of me gaming online. I’ll be doing that for free on PSN.

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Kenneth Richardson

Kenneth is a Graphics and Game Design student who's worked as an author for since June of 2010. His favorite gaming genres are Fighting, Role Playing and Sadistic Action games like Ninja Gaiden and Bayonetta. In addition to gaming, he is also strongly interested in music, fashion, art, culture, literature, education, religion, cuisine, photography, architecture, philosophy, film, dance, and most forms of creative expression.

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