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The Covenant Wins

They giveth and they (mostly) taketh away

By attacking Microsoft’s weakpoint–its sense of ‘loyalty’ to its customers1:

The bell tolls for Microsoft’s original Xbox and all of its Live-enabled games, as tomorrow the life-support switch will be flicked off and you won’t be able to play Halo 2 online ever again.

Microsoft recently announced that on the 15th April, it will deactivate Xbox Live support for both the original Xbox and its games. In doing so, it said it will enable the company to add more advanced features to the Xbox 360’s online service.

You can find MS’ official litany of weak excuses here. (Normally I’d break each one out and, snidely, deconstruct it but, really, these are so weak that they refute themselves with but an ounce of critical thinking…which might be an ounce more than the Internet possesses in sum…but I digress.)

So why am I wasting everyone’s time with this? Especially since I basically loathe Halo? (Keep reading before you start in with the non sequitur “Microsoft doesn’t owe you anything!” rebuttal that passes for reasoned thought in arguments like this.)

Mainly it’s just to point out that when you buy something these days, it’s always running on a clock that will, at some point, expire (even though you may not even think once about it), so you are, in essence, only renting some of the features for which you paid good money (and in the case of Halo 22, going by the SP campaign, the only feature you actually probably wanted to pay for was the MP). And, since they know they can get away with it, they will keep right on doing it and, of course, we’ll keep right on letting them.

This goes for: online play (DC, PS2, XBOX), OS support (PS3), backwards compatibility (mainly 360 but a little PS3), and, really, anything else a company can come up with to scrimp and save a few nickels that they know you won’t likely kick up much of a furor over even though you paid for all of this stuff. Just imagine, though: what would happen if they were they to take all of them away at once?

However, playing on basic human psychology (and that of rabid apologists who should be here in 3..2..1..) if they just gradually strip you of things you paid for, you either won’t notice or won’t care. (Isn’t corporate psychology fun!)

Finally, let me stress something: these companies don’t owe you anything more than you paid for–the problem is, they don’t seem to grasp3 that they routinely violate this most elemental of social contracts.

Just think: Home Depot sells you a lawnmower then, later on, when they notice you aren’t using the grass-catcher attachment, they decide that they’re going to take it back because, really, you aren’t using it and it’ll save them a few bucks now that they don’t have to pay for it themselves–anyone notice the problem here? Cause Microsoft and co. sure don’t.

1 And before you start, MS had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into making good on the RROD fiasco so, no, they don’t get any points for doing what they had to do; as for scratched discs, they’ll replace them…for $20. (Read the Wiki article–and supporting links–for all the gory details on MS’ apparent pathological need to avoid blame.) Oh, and half-assed backwards compatibility that they abandoned faster than you can say “hey, why are they selling me games I already own, when there’s backwards…oh…right.”
2 They are at least doing something for Halo 2 players (3 free months of Live)–everyone else, though (see April 10th entry), can eat it.
3 They do grasp it but they don’t care and neither will you…until they come for something you care about.

  1. 04/14/2010 at 15:55

    Justinzero: No mention of the lack of DLC games on PS3 last month?
    Justinzero: During the bug?
    Justinzero: games we all paid for?

    Waxing Sage: guess you better post that, then
    Waxing Sage: and shut up

    • ECM
      04/14/2010 at 16:01

      And another thing: shut up!

  2. 04/14/2010 at 16:51

    Yeah, I’m not grooving with this either. What I really hate about this is that there’s this push toward online integration in video games, coupled with the inevitability of those online services being shut down in a few years. This leaves you with a game that’s both largely dependent on the online experience and largely worthless once that functionality expires.

  1. 04/14/2010 at 15:26
  2. 04/15/2010 at 10:39
  3. 04/22/2010 at 18:12

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