Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Microsoft Game Room: Wasted Potential?

I admit it; I initially loved Game Room. I loved the concept (still do), the cute little arcade cabs, the medals and achievements, and the high score challenges. I've been into it since launch day, and I currently have around 27 games or so. I play it daily (just beat my Super Breakout score today. 201 points!), and I really, really wish more people were into it.

Why are people leaving? The problem lies not in the design or the concept. No, if you want to blame anyone for the tepid interest Game Room has generated over the few short months since it was launched, blame Microsoft itself. Slowly but surely, the company has done just about everything to ensure that as few people as possible care about what could otherwise be an awesome concept. Blame MS for the slow releases, including games with specialized controllers that are now nearly unplayable, the actual dearth of arcade games in each pack (the first batch of games from next week's Game Pack 8 contains only 4 2600 titles and one Intellivision game), the annoying pauses while playing, the lack of more game companies, the generic Konami cabs, etc. The list goes on and on, and while people are either forgetting they downloaded GR or are deleting it altogether, MS has been mostly silent. Even though the official Facebook page has finally been getting updates, and the website is now current, but the Xbox 360 dash never reports a thing, and Major Nelson probably doesn't even know Game Room exists.

I think I'm one of only a handful of people on the forums I frequent who actually use Game Room, and I fully understand the lack of interest. When MS boasted back in March that there would be a thousand games, people got excited. They imagined Capcom, Namco, Data East, and a slew of other arcade stalwarts offering up their best wares for 240 points. What'd we get? Atari 2600 and Intellivision games.

Here we are, more than three months later, and the rumors of other companies joining Game Room are still just that, rumors. I've heard that the release list only encompasses games from the Atari and Activision anthologies and Intellivision Lives!. Indeed, if you look at those lists, all the games currently offered or slated for release in GR are on them. They've seemingly run out of Atari arcade games (where is Food Fight?), and Konami has vanished from the list despite still having titles like Jackal, Circus Charlie, Gradius, and Devastators available. Given this week's list, pickings are slim, and nothing more has been announced.

That's what pisses me off the most. MS has dropped the ball completely with Game Room. There has been zero advertising, and it took them 4 months just to update the showcase arcade! I would love to be able to play Universal, Midway, Taito, and other company libraries here, and the damn thing was made for it! Head over to the Facebook page, and the complaints are all the same: where are the other companies? Why are there so few arcade games being released? The GR staff is again, mostly silent on these issues.

I would really love to pour my MS points into Game Room, but as it is, MS has done a really bad job with it. I'll continue to purchase the occasional arcade release that interests me, and I'll play those games I've already bought, but unless something major comes along, count me as one of those who is rapidly losing interest. Get with it MS; we're waiting.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Buying Used Sucks Sometimes

I try to take advantage of every preowned offer that comes my way, be it through Gamestop or any other store that's willing to shave a few bucks off its price. I mostly get good deals, and I won't buy a game unless it's complete and in good condition. The boxes might not be shiny new, but hey, you have to find ways to save money in this economy.

Sometimes, however, things don't work out. Yesterday, I found a used copy of Lego Indiana Jones 2 for the Xbox 360. It was only $15 after discount, so I picked it up. After three "unreadable disc" errors, I packed it back up for a return trip to the store. It was the only used copy they had, so I'll just pay the extra $5 and buy it new. Two trips to the store for a $20 game that's everywhere at that price. *Sigh*