Microsoft Wants To Block Out 3rd Party Storage

from the freedom-to-tinker? dept

faceless writes “Xbox Live’s Major Nelson (aka Microsoft’s Larry Hyrb, Director of Programming for Xbox Live) announced on his blog that the newest Xbox 360 Dashboard update will block unauthorized 3rd party memory devices. These 3rd party items are big sellers because Microsoft charges $30 for a 512MB Memory card and $130 for a 120GB HDD. A 3rd Party 2GB Memory Card is $40 and is also expandable as it supports Micro SDHC cards. A 3rd party HDD is $70, and the Microsoft HDD’s are just 2.5″ drives in a proprietary enclosure.

Consumers having larger memory devices is good for Microsoft, since more space means people can buy more Xbox Live Arcade games and more Downloadable Content such as new map packs, levels and expansions for retail disk based games, as well as buying and renting Movies and TV Shows via the Xbox 360’s online marketplace. Another important factor is these devices have been sold for years. In the case of the hard drives, the Microsoft and 3rd party devices look identical, so many consumers may not even know that they have purchased an unauthorized device.

People on various videogame forums, such as NeoGAF are worried about the content they bought not working and not even being able to get online on their Xbox 360 console if their memory device is locked out by the update.”

Once again, this seems incredibly short-sighted by Microsoft. The idea of breaking legitimately purchased hardware that makes the core of Microsoft’s profit center (the games) more valuable, this only serves to piss off Microsoft customers and drive them away from Microsoft. Blocking out third party hardware — especially without a detailed explanation for why — goes against the basic right to do what you want with your own, legally purchased, hardware.

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Companies: microsoft

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Comments on “Microsoft Wants To Block Out 3rd Party Storage”

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Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You know, I keep trying to explain to people why I find gaming on my notebook so much more gratifying than any console, and they look at me like I’m crazy.

But then, I’m not into the super graphics and dazzling effects. Give me Fallout 2, Final Fantasy 7, MVP Baseball with a roster update from, and Civ III and I’m pretty much good to go…

And with a laptop, I truly do mean GO. I can play and fly across the country, play in the passenger seat of our car, play in the bath tub, play while I’m pooping, play in bed, etc. etc. etc.

When the hardware race winds down, I just don’t see consoles holding up, and I think we’ll see a resurgance in PC Gaming…

Matt (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

People always say this, but I honestly have always had a much better time playing console games than PC games. I can’t remember the last time a PC game worked flawlessly, with no installation issues or crashes. On the other hand, console game errors are incredibly rare, at least as far as I’ve seen — every once in a while you hear about a weird issue someone has that gets coverage. But nothing is more infuriating than waiting an hour for your PC game to install, booting it up and getting an “Unrecoverable error in file DX9178389. Shutting down. Error code 3c19.”

Really, consoles have two main attributes that PC gaming has had a hard time matching: consistent hardware, so you’re not getting unintelligible errors that prevent you from playing the game, and a uniform user account across all games to track things like friends, statistics, achievements, etc (Steam is close, but it’s not near pervasive enough). They can’t really do anything about the first problem, unfortunately, and the second one seems hard for any one company to tackle.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I track my “things like friends” with a variety of programs and/or websites. I track the few statistics I actually care about in-game. Achievements are useless.


(I agree on annoying errors, but there are also a ton of other advantages to PC gaming that allow me to tolerate them).

Thay Guy says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Next? How about cost. Games generally cost the same or are within a 10 dollar difference. So it comes down to hardware. 300 dollar console that plays the same games as soon as you put in the disc. Or, a 700-1200 dollar PC that might be able to play that same game provided you meet the minimum requirements. So, this is one of those rare cases where you end up paying less for convenience and consistency. I like the fact that for at least 3-5 years I don’t have to worry if I can run the next hot title coming out or if I’ll have to drop another 50-150 dollars for an updated video card, more memory, etc…

computer geek says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

@ thay guy
paying 50-150 every 3 to 5 years for a new graphics card versus paying 600 every 3 to 5 for a new console. i think ill stick to pcs. i spent about 500 on my custom rig. found great deals. it whoops the s*** out of any console i found and i can play any game i want. point: consoles may be cheaper in the short run but in the long run they are more expensive

That Guy says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

I should have expanded my thought, that’s all it is anyway. I agree to your point. My own point should include not only price as a factor, but to include experience in cahoots with price. If I didn’t know how to replace those componants, then the price of a console is very attractive compared to a new computer. If I don’t pay for a console as soon as it is out, then I don’t pay 600 dollars, which I don’t believe the 360 ever was. But only 300-500 dollars.

So I guess it really plays down to preference no matter what.

That Guy says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

In my case, it would be a lot more. But that’s just me. I lost my gaming PC to cover a debt with my brother-in-law. So all I have is a cheap 300 dollar, 2.5 year old laptop. To get a gaming PC would require full investment as would anyone with a laptop that did not get a beefy one to start. So I still think it comes down to price and convenience, as does most things.

Brendan (profile) says:

Surprisingly, Sony went the right way with this same issue

Chalk a win up for Sony here.

They explicitly allow users to install 3rd party HDDs in the PS3. The case includes a special access door to get at the drive without taking the system apart (ie, this does not void your warranty) and they have included directions in the manual for replacing the drive, as well as software to back up and restore your data.

That Guy says:

Re: Re: Surprisingly, Sony went the right way with this same issue

Unfortunately? More fortunately to me, Sony rarely ever sends out updates. Plus, they include instructions on loading another OS onto the PS3 right in the menu. So I don’t think they will go back on that idea unless they put out another form-factor PlayStation that blocks out all hardware entirely…wait…PSPGo, damn you Sony!

tubes says:

Re: Surprisingly, Sony went the right way with this same issue

My PS3 has become the only way I watch avi, dvds, and Blueray files on my television. I hardly ever play games on it anymore and have hardly used the internal HD on my PS3. I started using PS3 Media Server (also works with the XBOX 360). I have it networked with my computers and it streams everything perfectly, not one issue. Hell I still have never been able to get Blueray files to play right on my computer but the PS3 will play them perfectly, no skipping or studdering.

That Guy says:

I don’t know about most people, but the ones I know have never even considered 3rd party hardware for the 360. I’m not saying this is good thing for Microsoft to pull. I’m saying that I don’t see it making a huge impact on the market. Mainly they will just have the vocal minority in arms becuase something is being changed or limited, whether or not they use those products.

Fred McTaker (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“I don’t know about most people, but the ones I know have never even considered 3rd party hardware for the 360.”

Why not? Your “people” don’t like saving money?

I work in the games industry and I buy 3rd party accessories, cables, and controllers all the time. Sometimes it’s to make sure they work with our games, but way more often it’s because the item does the same job at a lower price, or a better job at any price.

This is just Microsoft’s same old “embrace, extend, and then extinguish” for standards, now applied to hardware. It’s evil and it deserves DOJ scrutiny. Consoles have been doing this forever, but in this case they pulled a bait and switch by using standard interfaces up front, and then locking them down by device ID via software. There is no possible justifiable reason for this change, especially when the 3rd-party equipment often exceeds the capabilities of the 1st-party equivalents.

That Guy says:

Re: Re: Re:

It is more the fact that there are no accessories that we buy. I have the controller that came with the console and the only extra I bought was a headset that came with a year of X-Box Live and an HDMI cable. My friends are the same way. We don’t need the MU for account transfer because that can be done through Live. Don’t need extra controllers because we all already have one. Most of the other accessories, save for the camera, are aesthetic and not functional. But as I said, that’s me and my friends, don’t know about most people.

Brian (profile) says:

Microsoft does have a stated reason

Microsoft actually has a reason for doing this (sorta). Your gamertag (profile) has achievements associated with it… markers pointing out accomplishments within games. By using some of these third party products, it was possible to install your profile onto an SD card, and in turn modify that profile on your computer. Why do this? Well… you can adjust your profile to say you’ve gotten difficult achievements without actually doing it. (e.g.: the 10,000 kill “Seriously…” achievement in Gears of War)

Why do that? Well… you’d have to ask a cheater or someone who really cares about their gamer score.

All that said, the real reason they’re doing this is to make you buy their over-priced proprietary memory unit.

That Guy says:

Re: Re:

How much grief was there over the DL content bought on the old X-BOX? I didn’t hear anything. You could argue that nothing of value was lost, which is the case, but that would have to hold true to this generation as well. When the next console comes out most add-ons, games, media, updates that were on the 360, most likely, will no longer be valid. So I really don’t see the big stink for this announcement. Someone will find a way around it anyway.

That Guy says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I can say the same for almost any other console made past/present. PSPGo being the one that comes to mind being only digital. Most consoles so far use, primarily, a physical medium to run its programs. And if it is run digitally then it is at least stored locally. No game so far as I have seen needs to make sure you are Live enabled in order to play. None that are not multiplayer only games, at least. I may just be missing something entirely, so please, enlighten me so I might learn some things. Because I may cleary need to.

joe says:

I usually play consoles for about 2 to 3 years after a new cycle starts because they are equal or better than my PC. My Xbox 360 is collecting dust right now because I am back on PC after my last upgrade. Now games look terrible on my Xbox. One thing I like better on Xbox is the voice chat in every online game. It was hard for me to go back to typing in game after Xbox live.

Are their really Sony fanboys putting down Xbox on every Xbox story?

Greycoat (profile) says:

Anti-Competitive move

I’m not surprised. Microsoft playing dirty. The big bully on the block trying to block out other “players” in another anti-competitive move. I think a class action lawsuit is warranted and I wonder if they will get away with this in the EU? I doubt they will get away with it there.

I don’t own a game console and any games I play is on the computer. It’s “moves like this” that makes me think my next computer will be an Apple computer or a Linux based computer.

Yakko Warner says:

It's happening.

They’re rolling out the update in preview waves starting yesterday. Reports so far in Xbox-Scene forums are that the memory cards are, in fact, disabled; but the hard drives seem to be ok for now.

The most disappointing/irritating/boneheaded part about this is, of all the unofficial third-party storage options available (bootlegged drives, Chinese knock-offs, etc.), the memory cards are probably the ones that most innocent people will get burned by, as you can allegedly find the Datel cards at Best Buy or other big-box electronics stores right next to the official ones (thus showing how much of a mark-up the official ones carry).

roxanneadams (profile) says:

A year ago I paid less than $30 for an 8GB SDHC card for my Android G1 directly from I could have bought a 16GB card for a few dollars more, but the 8GB card provides more storage space than I will ever need for my G1.

My point is that it’s unconscionable for Microsoft to block access to generic storage devices, just so they can charge $30 for a proprietary 512MB Memory card or $130 for a 120GB HDD device for the XBOX 360. Microsoft has every right to charge whatever ridiculous prices they want for their add-on products, and I’m sure there are people who will just buy directly from them. However, they have no right to block the use of generic add-ons and storage accessories for the XBOX.

What would happen if T-Mobile crafted the G1 so that it wasn’t compatible with generic devices, including car chargers, storage devices and adapters? There would have been people screaming about the greed of Google, T-Mobile and the G1 manufacturer, and I would have either broken my new T-Mo contract or gone back to using my five-year-old smart phone (which is still superior in almost every way to the G1).

Daemon_ZOGG (profile) says:

Another reason...

Not too suprising, coming from M$. A closed-sourced, Highly Proprietary corporate machine which has become deaf, dumb, and blind to the individual consumer needs. Much of the same can be said about other game consoles as well. };>

My suggestion is to convert these consoles into Unix or Linux web-servers (google search the info). Play your games on a computer console emulator.
And tell these pathetic idiot corporate stooges that you won’t buy their products anymore until they stop screwing you over. Boycott their products. 😉

Lucky for me.. I don’t buy anything created or produced by M$. I reeeeally hate those guyz. Including sony. };>

R. Miles (profile) says:

Thanks for the laugh, Mike.

“this only serves to piss off Microsoft customers and drive them away from Microsoft.”
You mean the same people who go out and buy this console despite its failures as indicated by the Red Rings of Death (RRoD)?

Never going to happen. If anything, people will simply find a way to circumvent the DRM Microsoft will impose.

Side note: *everyone* knows first party hardware is overpriced and Microsoft’s claims that people don’t know is asinine. People do know. That’s why they buy 3rd party when there’s no difference to the hardware save the price.

Sheinen says:

I’m a 360 user myself and I’ll admit to being pretty non-plussed about this, I bought the Elite when it was released and twisted M$’s arm in to sending me a free memory unit when they fluffed up a repair.

With the removal of the 20gb ‘premium’ console from their line-up they’re obviously working to leave you with 2 choices – Buy the Arcade and their expensive add on memory, or the Elite with the ample 120gb HDD.

If you can buy the Arcade and a 3rd party £120gb HDD for a total that’s less than their Elite they’re going to lose out…again.

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