Why do gaming consoles have to die?

In the span of two days, both my Xbox 360 and Jo’s tamagotchi died. Hers died because she left it home one day and those little critters throw a hissy fit and die if you don’t feed them by pressing some buttons every few hours. Mine died because… well… I’m not sure why mine died. I think it’s cos it was old. I dunno… is three years old for a gaming console? I guess my Sega consoles lasted only about three years too. But they “died” in the sense that they became obsolete and people stopped making games for them. My Xbox on the other hand, died in the “ack, I can’t breathe!” way.

Dead xbox and tamagotchi

My dead Xbox and Jo's dead Tamagotchis

This recent dead Xbox is a refurbished set that I got to replace another one that had a graphics glitch about a year after I bought it. So basically, in four years, I’ve only gone through two Xboxes. My friends tell me that I’ve been pretty luckily, as they’ve got horror stories about making bi-monthly trips to the Xbox service centre and so forth. At any rate, it’s past the warranty date so I guess I’ll be picking up a replacement Xbox 360 soon.

Similarly, I also had to replace my first generation Xbox. It didn’t really die, but the laser couldn’t read games anymore (making it nothing more than a really expensive CD/DVD player). So I’ve now got two of those sitting in my home (which bugs Jo a lot; she wants me to toss them out), and a new dead Xbox 360 to complete the collection. Then of course, I’ve got my Segas still lying around.

Unlike the Xboxes, those never died on me. Well, my cousin fried the Saturn once by plugging it straight into the wall socket without using the transformer… but that’s pure user-error right there. So my Sega consoles went obsolete and were replaced, but always by something newer and better. Never because they simply fell ill and died. I mean, I dunno if you remember the old cartridge based consoles, but if it didn’t read then all you had to do was blow the dust off the cartridge and it’s as good as new!

Sega gaming consoles

Sega!

So what’s wrong with this picture? I was talking to The Sauce about this, and The Sauce made a really good analogy by comparing videogame consoles to weapons. The old Segas are like AK-47s… really old assault rifles that simply refuse to die. You can take one of those through a sandstorm or rainstorm, and it’ll still shoot straight and kill a few bad guys for you. The new generations of consoles on the other hand, are like orbital laser platforms. They are powerful enough to destroy an entire city with a single shot, but the slightest problem like a loose connection or a failed RAM chip, and the entire platform fails to function.

Is all the added power really worth it? At some point, do we need reliability and durability back in our gaming consoles? Or do we just want more raw power so that the new Modern Warfares and Tekkens and Gran Turismos can be exactly the same except with even more realistic textures and graphics?

To hell with that, I say! I mean, I think my Xbox died young because it should’ve lasted longer. I think my Segas died young, because kids were too caught up with gimmick consoles like the SNES and the Playstation… because of freakin’ Final Fantasy or something. Bah!

While my Xbox is down, I’m going to go back and play Shining Force. Old games rock!

Shining Force

Old school 16-bit graphics

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About Drew

I love videogames, movies, my wife and my dog (in no particular order). View all posts by Drew

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