New 360 Dashboard Isn't For Gamers.
Your Xbox has turned into a viable replacement for your set-top box, and that’s precisely Microsoft’s plan. But what about the gamers, we still count, right?
It’s become very easy to overlook Xbox Live and the instrumental importance it’s had on the 360’s success over the years, even to ignore its innovations entirely. As an increasing number of gamers look to the future and the possibilities of a new machine, Microsoft is still pushing the boundaries in the here and now.
Xbox Live has evolved and changed with the console and, arguably now more than ever, represents a next generation dashboard that will no doubt also become home to whatever console follows the 360.
For Microsoft, the evolution of Live has had the biggest impact on the industry and though the years have ebbed and flowed with quality, some standing head and shoulders above others, 2012 could be the most exciting year for both gamers and users of Microsoft’s online service. Though an increasing number of gamers feel like they’ve been phased out, or at least put on the back burner, the innovations and changes to Live have become increasingly impressive.
Live appears like it has the feature set and content that wouldn’t be out of place on an Xbox 720, enforcing what we’ve long begun to suspect: Live is now the platform and the console itself is interchangeable. But why is 2012 so important, what does it hold in store that previous years have not?
Well, it’s a combination of factors that have been subtly reinforced with Microsoft’s last Live update. Its refocus on additional content, or more to the point, content that’s not games, has seen a few hardcore gamers scratching their heads, but for everyone else, Live has become the go-to place for TV.
Bing, YouTube, BBC iPlayer, MSN, 4OD, LoveFilm all have spearheaded Live’s new video content, essentially turning your Xbox into a viable replacement for your set-top box, and that’s precisely Microsoft’s plan. But what about the gamers, we still count, right? Though the reshuffle has given all of us countless new ways of utilising our consoles, the perception that it’s, yet again, moving away from the gamers needs and into the hands of a broader audience is hard to shake.
Which is probably why there’s such a push from publishers like Ubisoft and Microsoft itself to create big triple-A experiences for Xbox Live. I Am Alive and Alan Wake’s American Nightmare are finally securing Live as a viable platform for more than just arcade games and demos. With Games On Demand, XBLA and even online portals such as Elite and Waypoint allowing players increasingly complex ways of interacting with their games, it makes it all the more frustrating that Microsoft seems intent on hiding this new content on the new dashboard.
There’s no doubt the 360 and Live represent one of the most comprehensive new tools for watching and engaging with TV and the internet, but if you’re interested in games, you have to sift through the crap. For some, that might be a step too far.