Gamers took their local stores by assault on Nov. 25 to get their hands on one of the new Xbox 360s. Aficionados waited in long lines outside video game retail outlets, with stock running out in 20 minutes at the Video Games Stop in New Haven, owner Jim Zilinski said.
David Roosth ’09, one of the few Yale students to have tried out the new Xbox 360, said the new system is a clear improvement on its 2001 predecessor, with popular video games such as Halo greatly enhanced.
“When I played Halo 2, the graphics were obviously superior to the original system, and the game-play was spectacular,” he said. “I would have bought one myself, but I thought it would be too big of a distraction from my love life and extracurricular activities.”
One Microsoft spokesperson would most likely agree with Roosth’s concern that the Xbox 360 could consume the majority of his free time.
“With its sheer power, portfolio of graphically stunning games, rich online capabilities, and features for enjoying music, movies and photos, Xbox 360 delivers integrated digital gaming and entertainment experiences that simply can’t be matched,” said the spokesperson, who asked not to be named, in accordance with Microsoft policy.
But some Xbox 360 units have experienced hardware problems such as switching off at unpredictable times. A Microsoft representative said the problems are not widespread, nor is there a systematic issue with the game console.
“Each incident is unique, and these customer inquiries are being handled on a case-by-case basis,” a spokesperson said. “We are doing everything we can to take care of these customers quickly so they can get back to enjoying their new consoles.”
Consumers have taken advantage of the lack of stock nationwide to sell units on Ebay at prices as high as $1150, though the suggested retail price is about $400. Andy Wagner ’09 said he finds this practice indecent.
“It’s unsettling to me that people will buy the Xbox 360 to make a profit on it,” Wagner said. “They will sell it for twice its value on Ebay, and people will buy it because it’s the only thing on their kids’ Christmas wish list.”
Microsoft has not disclosed how many game systems were released on the launch day, but outlets will receive weekly replenishment of supplies during the holidays, the spokesperson said.
But several students said enthusiasm over the new game console has not yet spread across Yale’s campus, and students have divergent opinions on its appeal.
Juan Castillo ’08 said he will stick to Nintendo consoles, because he believes Microsoft threatens to monopolize the market in the same way that it has taken over the personal computer trade.
“I think Microsoft is trying to dominate entertainment consoles as well,” he said. “I feel like Microsoft is aggressive in the promotion of their systems, which I find off-putting, and I feel as though Nintendo doesn’t have to prove anything.”
But Giovanni Casanova ’06, who owns the older Xbox system, said he thinks Microsoft consoles have higher-quality graphics and a better selection of games.
“Microsoft is usually on the cutting edge [of] technology, and the graphics are slightly better … but the main reason why I think the Xbox stands above the other consoles is Halo,” he said. “That is pretty much the primary reason why I want to get the new Xbox 360.”
Nathan Roth ’09 said he may consider buying the game system sometime in the future but thinks it is currently overpriced.
“I think it’s a bad idea to buy the console now because the price will come down, the bugs will be fixed and more games will be available if you wait a few months,” he said.
The Xbox 360’s failure to appeal to some Yale students is due in part to their preference of computer to console games. Kersi Shroff ’09 said he thinks computer games are more relaxing to play during study breaks.
“I prefer games that are shorter and that do not take a long time because they allow you to relax while you are in the middle of your homework,” he said. “Console games tend to be a lot more graphic-intensive, and take up much more time.”
But Katie Cobb ’09 said she finds console games more appealing because of their inherent social element.
“I prefer console games because you can interact with real human beings and digital representations of them,” she said.