This is part of our ongoing series about games and trends of one of the most longest-lived eras in gaming’s history — the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 generation.
Sometimes, game consoles are memorable for all the wrong reasons. Take the Dreamcast: At this point, people probably remember it more for being publisher Sega’s last console rather than for its games. While the current generation didn’t have anything nearly that bad — it introduced some fantastic innovations to video games, after all — the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 did have some missteps along the way.
Here, in no particular order, are console troubles that we may never forget.
‘Red Ring of Death’
The last thing you want to see when you turn on your Xbox 360 are three flashing red lights [above]. According to the 360’s manual, the three lights indicate a general hardware failure. Frustrated owners called this the “Red Ring of Death” (RROD) because the 360 was useless until you sent it back to Microsoft for repairs. The problem was so severe that those affected by RROD had their warranties extended for up to three years from the date they purchased the console.
Of course, we have no way to tell how well the first batch of PlayStation 4s and Xbox Ones perform until they’re out in the wild. But they can’t get any worse than this, right?
Raise your hand if you actually memorized how many Microsoft Points you got for $20. Anyone? I had to look it up every single time I thought about buying Points on Xbox Live Arcade. If Microsoft’s goal was to confuse people with its seemingly arbitrary exchange rate, then mission accomplished! Fortunately, the company got its act together a few months ago and replaced Points with real currency.
Tiny hard drives
With both of the new consoles coming in with 500GB hard drives, it’s almost laughable to think how small the storage devices were when the PS3 and Xbox 360 launched: 20GB and 60GB for the PS3, and 20 GB (or none at all in the Arcade edition) on the 360. Though Sony and Microsoft steadily increased the capacity in subsequent redesigns of their consoles, it’s still cheaper to install a third-party hard drive (in the case of the PS3) or to hook up an external device.
Slow system updates on the PlayStation 3
If you don’t keep your PS3 up to date, you might find yourself a boring surprise when you boot up to play a new game: a prompt to grab the latest firmware. Only those with extreme patience can endure the lengthy process of finishing the download, the console restarting itself, and then waiting again as the update installs. Games with bug-fixing patches are sometimes just as bad.
However, firmware version 4.50 changed all of this. It unlocked automatic updates for all owners (a feature that was previously exclusive to Sony’s premium PlayStation Plus service), making system updates hassle-free for those who choose to use it.
The PlayStation 4 also comes with automatic updates.
Sixaxis controllers and the L2/R2 triggers
The PS3 inexplicably launched with the vibration-less Sixaxis controllers, stripping out a function that many gamers grew accustomed to with the first two PlayStation consoles. At the time, Sony’s then-president of worldwide studios Phil Harrison explained that rumble was a “last generation feature.” A few years later, and conveniently after the settlement of a lawsuit that disputed Sony’s right to use that rumble technology, haptic feedback returned with the DualShock 3.
But the controller woes didn’t stop there: The L2 and R2 triggers had their own issues. Personally, the bulging, slippery design led to many accidental grenade throws during my Call of Duty matches. The buttons can also depress if you just place the controller on a surface, which didn’t make it ideal for watching movies (L2 and R2 rewind and fast-forward, respectively).
Sony kept these criticisms in mind when working on the DualShock 4.
The clunky PlayStation Store
The PlayStation Store has come a long way since the blue hues of its original web-based incarnation in 2006. But it still has one major problem: It’s too damn slow. Even with a decent Internet connection, images pop in later than they should, and menu commands chug with the simplest actions. Adding games to your cart, browsing menus, or searching for a specific thing feels is a chore.
Quitting a game to move between apps
If you want to switch to something like Netflix or Hulu while playing a game on PS3 or Xbox 360, you first have to quit the game, go back to the console’s main menu, and then select the app. It’s not a huge deal, but it does take a few extra steps to go from one application to another.
The PS4 and Xbox One handles this in different ways. On PS4, you can double-click the PS button (below the touchpad) to jump to the last app you opened. Double clicking the button again will bring you back to the game. The Xbox One can have multiple apps open at the same time (as seen in the video below), and you can freely switch between them using your controller or with voice commands.[youtube http://youtu.be/xhe6jV-APwM]
Is there anything else you’re not going to miss about the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360? Let us know in the comments below!