I’m a big fan of Microsoft’s XBOX… and pretty much everything else Microsoft (yes, I am a fanboy), so I spend a lot of time dinking around on my platform of choice perusing new content and such when I’m not actually playing games. I know my way around the system and I welcomed the new interface when the NXE (New XBOX Experience) rolled out a couple years ago—it was prettier, being more visual than the previous interface, and it was faster. However, we were treated with an update last year that, in my opinion, ruined some of the awesomeness that was. And not just that, but cash grabs and unending uploads of rhythm game DLC are crowding Marketplace to the point of unusability.
Marketplace of the past used to be divided into a few easy to navigate sections (stuff like: New Arrivals, Featured Content, etc.) that you could jump into and scroll to find what you are looking for. If you went to Games Marketplace, you could go to New Arrivals and quickly scroll through new Arcade, XBLA, Indy Games, Games on Demand titles, Demos, etc. Now, however, you have to click on each independent category and back out to go to the next (click on XBLA. Scroll to New Releases. Anything you like? No? Back out. Go to Games on Demand, scroll to New Releases. Anything you like? Rinse and repeat). It’s a clunky interface update that makes browsing Marketplace a chore and no longer the convenient quick trip it used to be—I don’t like it.
On top of that, you can no longer rate a game from the game info screen. When NXE first launched, it added a really neat community feature that I really appreciated: the ability to rate games. This doesn’t sound like it’s that big a deal, but I like to see consumer opinions of a game (and they often have more weight than a critic who reviews a game that was provided free of charge)… even if it’s a simple star rating, I like to see what other people thing before I commit to a buy (I don’t make my judgment based just on what other people think, but I’m less likely to just buy a game with a 2 star community rating than one with a 5). Rating a game was nice and easy when the feature was added (have a disc in your tray? Press Y to pull up the game info screen and give it your star rating. Scrolling through your XBLA collection? Press A on any of the titles to pull up the game info and enter your star rating), but now that game info screen rating system is gone; instead, you have to go through Marketplace, find the game you want to rate, give it your rating, back out (or go to the XBOX website, search for the game there, and rate). It’s a hassle and I’ve found myself doing a lot less rating now than I did in the past—this update did the XBOX Live community a disservice by making the rating process so inconveniently complicated.
I’m really sick of cash grab DLC (the kind of stuff like new character outfits or weaponry—half-meg downloads that cost 2-5 bucks for no reason). Seriously… you paid 60 dollars for a game—a full game—and you’re going to turn around and spend 5 for a digital piece of weaponry? I’d like to say that these cash grab content packs are ruining the industry for all of us, but it’s really the people who buy those packs that are—if it sells, they’ll make more! Microtransactions (unless the game itself was initially free) and digital costumes are pointless DLC packages that should either be included in the game (if they’re available on release day) or launch for a price of free when they do come around. DLC needs to meet the content to cost ratio of the full game, in my opinion, but with stupid people out there willing to shell out 15 bucks for 5 maps (yes, I called you stupid, and I’m not taking it back), we’re never going to see that. You get 80+ songs for 60 bucks when you buy a Rock Band game, but each individual downloadable song costs $2. It’s outrageous!
I’m getting off topic, though… this post isn’t about how much I feel publishers and stupid people are killing the games industry, but one about how XBL Marketplace needs some fixin’. So, my final point is: folder system, plz. With all the aforementioned cash grab packs and music tracks up for download on Marketplace, the new arrivals section is constantly cluttered with waves of Rock Band, Lips, and Guitar Hero tracks as well as EA’s latest cash grab suites—it’s nigh impossible to find something you might actually want to download with all that crap up there. A while back, Microsoft announced that they were releasing shops specifically for the music games; this gave us all hope that Marketplace would be less cluttered… but this wasn’t the case. Instead, the music game shops were basically applications you launch to have a game specific store available to conveniently sort through all the latest tracks, but this didn’t affect the Marketplace listings at all… they still showed up and pushed all the other games’ DLC out of the way. So, why can’t we have a folder system? Like… say a game has more than 3 new items available for download, why can’t all of those be collected in a folder that states something like “Game Title—New DLC! (X-many Available)”? It would be a nice solution to keep things neat and tidy for those of us who don’t care about all those music packs available. We wouldn’t have to scroll through 3 pages worth of Rock Band songs just to find the expansion pack that was supposed to come out that day. Please, Microsoft, make it happen!
If I missed anything or there’s something you’d like to see changed about the XBOX 360’s interface or Marketplace, let your voices be heard in the comments down below!