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XBox (Games) Advertising Businesses Microsoft The Almighty Buck Games

The Ugly, Profitable Details About Xbox Live Advertising 204

An anonymous reader writes "In an editorial at Penny Arcade, Ben Kuchera writes about how Microsoft's subscription-based Xbox Live platform has become an advertising cash cow — to the detriment of users who already pay for the service. Quoting: 'People who don't play video games would be forgiven if they turned on an Xbox 360 and didn't realize it was a device used to primarily play games. The first screen you see on the Xbox 360 Dashboard is often a mixture of ads for all sorts of goods and services, and many times games are in the minority of ad slots. The latest redesign increased the ad space that can be sold to advertisers, and that in turn increased this problem. Let's be clear, it is a problem. Game discovery is terrible in the current design of Xbox Live, and the usability of a system that used to be about games is suffering in order for Microsoft to make money on ads. Sadly, this issue isn't going away: Ad sales simply bring in too much money to ignore, and revenue is growing. ... I contacted Microsoft and asked how much advertising revenue impacted the profitability of the Xbox 360. "We don't share this information publicly but we can tell you that, since 2010, the advertising business has grown 142%," I was told.'"
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The Ugly, Profitable Details About Xbox Live Advertising

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  • Dashboard Devolution (Score:5, Interesting)

    by decipher_saint ( 72686 ) on Friday July 13, 2012 @04:47PM (#40643247)

    I didn't own an original XBox, so I don't have a frame of reference but I've noticed that since I bought my 360 in 2008 most updates to the Dashboard have been working hard at making it more difficult to find my games or my home media.

    In fact, with the latest batches of updates (Metro-like?) I've found it very difficult to get to games I want to play in my library, to the point now that I forego the GUI and go straight to the "quick play" option (which is basically just an alphabetically sorted list). And browsing my home network has been completely removed in lieu of streaming (yuck, no thanks).

    I think Microsoft could learn a thing or two from Valve, Steam is pretty easy to use but is also a ad delivery system, I can find everything rather easily in Steam and I find it a lot less annoying than the 360 Dashboard, also Steam has sales for games that don't suck, and that makes me want to spend money but hey, that's just my opinion...

  • by Dyinobal ( 1427207 ) on Friday July 13, 2012 @05:08PM (#40643489)
    Ya I'm a pc gamer and I've only sever seen xbox live used and never used it myself but I am baffled at why people pay to get ads on their xbox and to play games online, when you're already paying for the internet connection, why should it matter if your console is connecting or not. It would be like paying for my tablet to connect to my wifi and get online and play scrable or what ever. Why do xbox users put up with this?
  • by Anubis IV ( 1279820 ) on Friday July 13, 2012 @05:10PM (#40643519)

    I have to say that the 360 has been one disappointment after another when it comes to the console itself. The games are fine, as is the media selection, but after coming from a PS3 and Wii, the 360 doesn't even feel like it's designed for people interested in gaming or media consumption at all, which came as an utter shock to me, since everyone I know seems to enjoy theirs for those activities (and Sony isn't exactly known for quality products these days either). There's so much cruft and unnecessary nonsense between you and whatever you want to do on the 360 that it's extremely exasperating to do trivial tasks that are incredibly simple on the PS3. For instance, the only way I'm aware of to simply watch a video that's been downloaded to the local hard drive is to:
    1) Navigate to the Videos tab
    2) Select the option to view my video apps
    3) Launch one of the video apps, then wait for it to load
    4) Once it loads, navigate to my local videos
    5) Find the one I want then play it

    (I'm eager to be corrected by someone more knowledgeable, since I would love to know an easier way to do something so simple)

    And several of those steps involve navigating past tabs filled with image and video ads mixed in with actual content in a Metro-ish UI style. In contrast, on the PS3:
    1) Go to the Videos tab
    2) Find the one I want then play it

    And the only ad that you can't disable is some text scrolling in the top right corner (and it's oftentimes actually useful information related to sales or game launches in the PSN Store).

    At least Microsoft had the good sense to not have the audio enabled automatically on the video ads that are constantly showing in the dashboard. Even so, it's rather jarring when you accidentally scroll over one of them and suddenly get blaring sound as they respond to the controller's focus on them. I don't know what the numbers are, but, at least to me, it feels like the majority of the UI elements in the dashboard are actually ads of some form, without only a few useful things present. Unfortunately, since they've mixed them all together, it's rather difficult to discern at a glance sometimes.

    And don't get me started on the fact that even though I can watch Netflix on my iPad, iPhone, Apple TV, Mac, Windows box, PS3, and Wii without having to pay anything extra, I have to be a Microsoft LIVE Gold subscriber if I want to watch it on my 360.

  • by thetoadwarrior ( 1268702 ) on Friday July 13, 2012 @05:27PM (#40643717) Homepage
    Anyone with half a brain knew the 360 was another attempt at a set-top box to dominate the living room but you can't blame people for being upset when MS specfically aimed the system at "core" gamers and have now turned it into something to appeal to their mothers because it turns out those gamers aren't profitable enough in their eyes.
    br / Also it's pretty fucking poor as a media machine. A desktop serves that job better. For starters the xbox is never going to have to space to hold all my ripped music and DVDs. I own easily at least 500 DVDs and some blu-rays. I need some serious space for that. Not some toy whose sole purpose is to drain my wallet.
  • Re:Filter it. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dahamma ( 304068 ) on Friday July 13, 2012 @05:32PM (#40643789)

    What makes it even more annoying is that there were *2* primary reasons for the Xbox Dash redesign:

    1) make it 100% Kinect-accessible
    2) promote content more (much of it paid) and increase advertising space

    So, they changed the fairly decent previous Xbox Dashboard to something designed around products I don't want to see and a UI navigation mechanism I don't want to use. For the vast majority of users out there who just want to use a controller to play a game or watch a movie, it's a major step backwards in usability.

  • Re:So, basically ... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by stms ( 1132653 ) on Friday July 13, 2012 @09:13PM (#40645467)

    I'm surprised no one else has posted this yet. There's been a pretty big recent success with a FOSS console on kickstarter with the Ouya Console []. Why was that modded funny it would be awesome if there was a successful FOSS console I certainly hope the Ouya is a success.

"The eleventh commandment was `Thou Shalt Compute' or `Thou Shalt Not Compute' -- I forget which." -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982