I don’t like my Xbox anymore.
If you’d asked me how I felt about it as recently as three months ago, I might have said differently. Most if not all of my favorite games of this generation have been on the 360, although its interesting to note that nearly none of them have been 360 exclusives.
But recently I found myself turning on my PS3 and, for the first time in over a year, using it to play games. For the first time, the XMB menu system - a menu I’d found cold and impersonal when I’d bought the console in 2007 - seemed warm and inviting.
Unlike Microsoft, Sony haven’t been taking more and more screen space to advertise games, or movies, or services, or more games. Unlike Microsofy, Sony’s online marketplace is actually usable, and while it’s not perfect I can, at the least, use it to find what I’m looking for. Perhaps more importantly, I can also use it to make discoveries; to find new games I might have otherwise missed or overlooked.
In recent years I’ve become increasingly aware of the fact that my Xbox 360 Dashboard isn’t mine. Not anymore. It’s Microsoft’s - it’s their space, their cork notice board where they’ll pin poorly-xerox’d notices informing me of all manner of products and services, many of which aren’t actually relevant to me (a side-effect of continuing to use my UK Xbox Live account after moving to the US, and something Microsoft have made very clear they have no intention of fixing). The console lets you choose your own theme, your own dashboard wallpaper, but with all the clutter and advertising in the way now you can’t see it. They may as well strip that customization out entirely.
In the last two months I’ve bought a handful of new games. Not a lot, mind, and certainly no new new games, but I’ve bought some. I’ve found myself buying the PS3 version over the 360 almost every single time. The only exception to that rule has been Rock Band Blitz, mostly because I’ve already got in excess of 800 songs for Rock Band on the 360, and it’s far too late to jump ship now.
The PlayStation isn’t perfect, of course. I still hate that controller, and the PSN Store doesn’t have any in-game integration, near as I can tell, forcing games to quit if I decide to investigate DLC options. But those two complaints aside, I feel far more welcome on my PS3 right now than I do on the 360. I feel like Sony wants me to stick around.
Microsoft, on the other hand, just wants me to spend my money with them. They’re pushy and desperate, and just a little bit abusive. Also their friends are raging homophobic racists. I’m not sure we can be together anymore.
Which is a shame.