Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Surprise, surprise ...

Microsoft just finished an update to the 360 dashboard; it doesn't seem like too much, unless you play Xbox Live Arcade games, in which case it was a badly-needed upgrade. They've done three things:

  1. Added the ability to automatically download trial versions of games when they become available.
  2. Changed how the 360 is searched for games when it displays the number of games you have.
  3. Added the option to look through games by category in addition to viewing the entire list.

Addition 1 is dumb, unless you have dial-up, in which case you probably don't play much online anyway (although I could see it if you play offline a lot). It's not like they have that many new games each week.

Addition 2 is the most significant. The dumbest thing about the XBLA before was that every time you hit that page, it would patiently look through your hard drive, your neighbor's hard drive, the cat box, and the old refrigerator in your garage for games, just to display the number you owned. Then, when you wanted to play one, it would repeat the search to display the games. Finally, when you selected one to play, you'd have to sit through the intro for it, and then wait for it to load, and then you could play. On top of that, you couldn't always back out of the menu if you decided not to wait for it, because the console was too busy counting your games to respond. Typical Microsoft programming.

Now, it simply gets the count of games on your hard drive from the main page, and it loads the list of titles much more quickly.

Addition 3 is nice once you have more than a few games, especially if you want to play a game in the second half of the alphabet. Of course, with the old system, it was always fun to try to get to the place in the list where the game would appear and see how quickly you could start it.

But it's really funny how they waited until late October to launch this. Why, it's almost like there are two competitors' consoles being released later this month ...

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