Marc Whitten can kiss my ass

Sam Hart

2008-01-05 15:28:40

I know in my Sam's Video Game Awards '07 I gave the 360 props for a solid year in 2007. While I'm not about to recant that, I am about to revise that...

See, the 360's solid year in 2007 apparently got Microsoft a lot of success. So much in fact that they apparently sold more 360s and Live accounts this last holiday season than their Live service can handle. The end result is that connection issues have plagued Live for the last two weeks or so, and it's become nigh impossible to actually enjoy an online game on the 360.

Marc Whitten, Xbox Live general manager, acknowledged the issue here, saying:

As a result of this massive increase in usage we know that some of you experienced intermittent Xbox LIVE issues over the holiday break. While the service was not completely offline at any given time, we are disappointed in our performance.

"Some" of us are experiencing problems? Not as near as I can tell. Of the twenty or so people on my friend list and the thirty or so people I know who aren't every last one has experienced major problems in the last two weeks. From the complaints I've seen online, I'd wager that there hasn't been a single Live user in the last two weeks who hasn't had problems. Long story short, Marc, me thinks you're downplaying how big of a problem this is....

The thing is, I wouldn't even be writing this angry rant right now if it weren't for Live's problems. I was planning on playing FFXI all day today with a ClanAM Halo game capping off the evening. Basically, I was planning on playing from dawn until well into the night. I don't do this often, but when I do it really helps me unwind.

But I can't get into FFXI. I've been trying for 2 hours and I can't get online. See, FFXI actually runs off of Square's servers, but in order to get into the game you have to first pass through Live. Now, this isn't a technical requirement, merely a policy one. Microsoft simply doesn't want any 360 games to get online without first checking with them (this way, they can require various Live memberships for their users to play online). Once I get to the FFXI servers, I'm golden, Live can choke and sputter all it likes. The problem is getting past this one tiny little authentication. In 2 hours, Live can't give me any validation for actually being a Live customer. Hell, I can't even get into Account Management!

I know that MS has decided to give everyone a free Xbox Live Arcade game in the coming weeks to compensate for this... but honestly, so what? My stupid tiny 20GB HDD is nearly full and I don't want another game filling it even more. All I want to do is fucking play my games on the days I have set aside for playing. I don't think that's too much to ask.

In the past, Microsoft has had similar connection problems with their Windows Update service. I remember in my old job at the U of A Physics Dept. having to set up a local update mirror because I couldn't rely on the source being online when all of our systems updated. I also remember them eventually obtaining mirrors from Akamai (resulting in the hilarity of Windows Update running Linux). You'd think after all that, they'd be more prepared for when it happened again.

In the end, the thing Microsoft needs to do is farm out their Live servers to someone else (like Akamai) and maybe reduce the amount of Live spam we get on the 360 Dashboard. It seems to me all this Live spam is very likely the brunt of the problem as every fucking 360 that turns on has to download a shitload of advertisements before it can do anything else.

As for me, I'll keep trying and hopefully get in the game today. I really hope that I don't waste the entire day staring at the Dashboard waiting for the magic Live advertisements to pop on indicating I'm finally really connected...