I realize that not everyone owns each of the next…errr…current generation consoles. This puts me in the fortunate position of being able to compare them and offer a unique insight into the pros and cons of each console. The pros are easy to write about, though, as all three consoles have a lot going for them, so I decided to go all negative and focus on five things that suck about each console. These are presented in no particular order, so it’s not a “top
five six” list or anything like that.
1. Red Ring of Death
It’s no secret that the Xbox 360 has suffered from serious reliability issues since it was released. Realistically, had the reliability issues been a safety issues (like, for example, Sony’s rechargable laptop batteries included in Dell laptops bursting into flames, or the original Xbox power cords shorting out and causing fires), the 360 would’ve had to go through a major recall.
Microsoft’s recent extension of the 360 warranty to three years for the red ring of death reeks of two things. First, a fear of class action lawsuits that they can’t win. They knew if they ignored the issue, it would come back and bite them in the courts (and may still). Second, it’s literally the least they could do. Had this really been a case of wanting to make sure the customer experience was fully covered, MS would have extended the warranty to three years, period. There wouldn’t have been the caveat that it was for this issue particularly.
This comes from someone who has returned his first 360 for repair (due to the RROD) and who has never had another console fail on him (unless you count my original Atari 2600, where the coax cable coming out of it frayed and required opening it to replace – not exactly a difficult repair).
2. Lack of rechargeable batteries
The PS3 has taken a beating publically because of its price point, but when you stop and compare the 360 and the PS3 feature for feature, the price points are actually very similar. Microsoft definitely “cheaped out” on the little things, including the battery packs with the wireless controllers. Instead of including a rechargeable battery pack with the 360 controller, Microsoft opted to sell the battery packs separately, and as a result the controllers are30- 40% more expensive than they appear at first glance (because who wants to use a wireless controller without rechargeable batteries?).
3. Microsoft Points
Microsoft Points suck. There, I said it. I’m reminded of video arcades where you have to trade in your money for their tokens, and there are no refunds for unused tokens. Microsoft’s insistence on using “points” instead of real money adds a layer of confusion for consumers (how much does that downloadable content actually cost? Let me break out my calculator and figure out the Microsoft Points conversion rate), and Microsoft adds to the aggravation by only allowing you to buy points in quantities that don’t add up to anywhere near the value of the content available for download. They don’t even give you a significant discount for buying larger quantities of points at once. Even the sleaziest arcades do that.
4. Lack of built-in wireless networking
For a high-end console, the lack of integrated wireless networking is a black eye for the 360. Especially on the Elite. Even the Wii has built in wireless networking. Microsoft claims this is because the protocols for wireless networking keep changing. There are two problems with this argument. First, all the new protocols are backward compatible with the old ones. Second, a console with built-in networking is not prevented from using a future “better” standard, if necessary, through a USB connection. Realistically, the exclusion of wireless networking is just another in a series of penny-pinching moves Microsoft made with the 360.
5. Lack of hard drive as standard
The original Xbox had a hard drive included as standard (and was the first console to do so), but its successor does not. WTF? Again, Microsoft has claimed this is about consumer choice. Please. The 360 is practically useless without a hard drive, and the proprietary memory cards are hideously overpriced. I highly doubt many 360s are in use out there without a hard drive, and Microsoft is just milking consumers by overcharging them for the hard drive peripherals after the fact.
6. The frickin’ huge power brick
The XBox 360 is a nice looking console, in fact I’d argue it’s the nicest of all three consoles in terms of aesthetics, except for one thing…that giant, ugly, 300lb power brick. If anything says “we didn’t have time to refine this design”, it’s that power brick.
1. It’s Underpowered
The Nintendo Wii is about as powerful as a first-generation Xbox. It is essentially a souped-up GameCube, and it shows. The graphics are sub-par and a large number of the games suffer from slowdown issues and the like. I’m sure second and third generation Wii games will look better than first gen games, but that’ll be because more games will be designed for the Wii specifically instead of being ports of old PS2 games.
2. Expensive controllers
The Wii remote and nunchuk attachment look pretty reasonably priced on their own, but since a huge number of games require both, the cost of a controller is actually quite high. For a console designed to be more “affordable” than its competition, Nintendo’s lack of a controller pack including both of these components together reeks of a cash grab.
3. Wii Points
Like Microsoft Points, Wii Points are a proprietary “money” system used to purchase downloadable contents. They suffer from all the same issues as Microsoft Points, but at least on the Xbox I can use a keyboard to enter my credit card information. Wii Points suck just that little bit harder than Microsoft Points.
4. Crappy ports
For a console that just launched less than a year ago, the Wii has a massive number of games. Sadly, the majority of them are crappy ports of GameCube titles, or games that were already in development for the GameCube that have had some gimmicky Wii controls bolted on. It’s no secret that the Wii remote was originally going to be an accessory for the GameCube, and that heritage is showing in the games. Hell, Mario Party 8 doesn’t even support 16:9 televisions.
5. Lack of rechargeable batteries
Nintendo’s Wii is priced a little bit high for technology as old as it is. Nintendo has obviously had great success at this price point, and they’re the only console maker currently turning a profit on hardware (PS2 notwithstanding, of course) so there’s no arguing that the price point is a success. Having said that, it’d be nice if Nintendo offered a rechargeable battery pack for the Wii remote in the box. Instead, you have to purchase one separately, and Nintendo doesn’t even offer a first-party battery pack.
6. The online experience
Sony has taken a lot of heat over the lackluster PSN experience versus Xbox Live, but let’s face facts…the Wii’s online experience is a joke. Even sharing your Miis with other people is a ridiculous exercise in convoluted processes. This doesn’t even take into account the fact that the system inexplicably loses its connection and delivers obscure error messages when trying to access the online store…what does that say for the possibility of online multiplayer games?
1. Game library
The PS3 is a very powerful machine, but its Achilles ’ heel at the moment is absolutely its game library. It’s obvious from the lack of games on the console that it’s a beast to develop for, and developers are having a hard time wrapping their heads around it. When developers do get it, the results can be amazing (Heavenly Sword, MGS4), but sometimes quantity is as important as quality, and that can definitely be a factor when deciding which one of the consoles to buy.
2. Crappy ports
The PS3 shares very little in common with the other two consoles. Sony opted to go their own way, and the hardware is very different than the 360 or, obviously, the Wii. Because the 360 has been out for a year longer than the PS3, many of the first generation PS3 games were developed with the 360 as the lead platform, and then ported to the PS3. These ports generally look worse and play worse than their 360 counterparts and, to add insult to injury, come out quite a bit later than the 360 originals. What, exactly, are consumers spending that additional money for?
The PS3 is expensive. It’s incredibly powerful, it represents very good value, and it does things none of the other consoles do, but none of that changes the fact that it’s expensive. Even with the recent price drop (and it is a price drop, regardless of whether they’re clearing inventory on the 60GB model – when they’re gone, the 80GB will drop to the 60GB price point, mark my words), the PS3 is the most expensive of all the consoles, and that is the biggest factor slowing down market penetration for this console.
4. No rumble
“Rumble is a last gen feature”. What a load of crap. Now that Sony has settled their lawsuit with Immersion, hopefully a SixAxis controller with rumble will be on the market before Christmas. The lack of rumble on the controllers does have one benefit, though…the charge on the batteries in the controllers last forever.
5. No headset as “standard”
All of the PS3 games that support online play support voice chat, but Sony opted not to include a headset with the PS3. This is incredibly annoying, especially when comparing the experience online on the PS3 to the stellar experience Microsoft offers with Live on the 360. I understand that Bluetooth headsets are more expensive than the cheap headsets Microsoft includes with the 360, but Sony should’ve come up with a cheap solution that plugs into the controller (like the 360). Bluetooth headset support is nice if you happen to have a compatible headset around, but they’re far from ubiquitous enough to warrant being the only realistic option. And yes, I understand that USB headsets work, but most USB headsets have a 4 foot or shorter cord, and I like to sit at least eight feet away from my TV (and thus, my console). Besides, doesn’t having a headset wired to a console defeat the purpose of wireless controllers in the first place?
6. No Rear USB Ports
I have an EyeToy, and I decided to plug it into my PS3. The camera sits on top of my entertainment unit, but the cable from it snakes across the front of my PS3, out the back and up to the top. Why? Because there’s no place on the back to plug in my EyeToy. Hell, I’d settle for three ports in the front and one in the back…how many USB devices am I really going to want up front?
There you go;
five six things that suck about each of the major players’ consoles on the market right now. If you’re shopping for one of the consoles, no matter which you buy, these are the things that will bug you.