The Xbox Metro update misses the mark

A new Xbox update came out this week and I was looking forward to it. I like the new Metro look that Microsoft is pushing, but when it comes to organizing information there’s still a long way to go.

Going Metro

The obvious change to the dashboard is the design. Microsoft is pushing their Windows 8 “Metro” style and frankly, I like it. It’s pretty clean and lends itself to nice design and iconography…but it doesn’t work too well when all you have to navigate is your controller. There’s too much moving around within a single screen. In the previous dashboard, the joystick was all you needed to move around. Now you have to use the bumpers AND the joystick. It’s like flying a helicopter. I know they’re pushing Kinect and voice search but even then, is waving your arms and talking to your Xbox easier than using a joystick? It shouldn’t be but I guess if you make using a joystick complicate then maybe…too bad I don’t have a Kinect.

The Xbox Metro update looks great but still falls short

The Xbox Metro update looks great but still falls short

Where did my games go?

The Metro design will just take some getting used to and that’s fine, but there are two things that really piss me off about the new dashboard. First off, where are my games!? When you boot up you see your home group, which is fine but then the next option isn’t your game library…it’s “Social”, then “Video” and only then do you get to your games. There are two things I care less about than games: which friends are online and what videos I can buy. I know they want the Xbox to be the new cable box and more than just a console, but the Xbox will always be a gaming device. Games first, please. It’s made for games and that’s what people use it for, so games should be first on the list, then everything else. Or…here’s a novel idea…let us organize our menu how we want!

Okay, so maybe I can deal with an extra screen or two before getting to my games, but one thing I’ll never like is the effort it takes to get to the Indie game marketplace. A major update like this game Microsoft a chance to help the indie developers but they once again failed to show support. Going through the game marketplace you now have to make some extra jumps just to find the Indie games list. Ideally, I’d like to have seen the Indie games mixed in all the other games at worst, but they don’t even get that luxury. It’s bad enough they mixed in XBLA and On-Demand games into one pot, but to exclude the XBLIG titles is just a shame. For those of us that are loyal arcade gamers, this is all just a pain in the butt.

However, once you get to the games you’re looking for, the new dashboard takes advantage of the Metro style by featuring game art. At first it’s a bit jarring and you feel like the ease of browsing through titles has been lost, but I really like seeing the box art in all its glory. This even works pretty well in the new Netflix…that is, once you get to Netflix now that they’ve moved it all the way to the “Apps” group. Why it’s not in the “Video” group, I just don’t know. So not only are they crapping on games but they’re kind of taking a dump on their partners as well. Way to play nice with the other kids. I’m almost at a lost to find what the goals are for this new dashboard? It’s clearly not games, and it doesn’t seem to be apps either…so what is it?

The Xbox Metro update is a step in the right direction in terms of look and feel, but it still has a ways to go when it comes to navigation and organization. I can’t help but feel that the update puts gaming in the back seat and that’s a disappointment. I’m not sure why we should have to work to play games on an Xbox, but I guess we’ll just have to deal with it. Change sucks, especially when it makes gaming harder.

Categories: Playing Games

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6 replies »

  1. I was in the preview and I’m still not used to this new interface yet. Once you install the video apps, I think they move to the video section. I think they also show up in the Quickplay section on the first screen.

    I usually make game purchases on, so I haven’t seen how hard it is to find games. It seems like they made a lot of stuff worse and not much better.

    I tried using Bing voice search and most of time it either didn’t know I was saying something (maybe I was doing it wrong) or didn’t interpret what I was saying properly. I don’t see myself using this much, especially since it’s not integrated into Netflix yet. At least it wasn’t during the preview.

  2. This is what happens when you apply a design and interface intended for tablets and phones on a non-touch device. It just doesn’t work that well.

  3. I also noticed last night that when I got to “New Releases” under games it shows games that aren’t even out yet, instead showing the trailer. If it’s not out, then it’s not a new release!

    The change in design is confusing enough for now, why make things even more confusing by labeling things poorly.

  4. They screwed the indies and the Netflix update is absolute garbage (yes, it being under Apps makes no sense).

    I don’t understand how some of this was greenlit.

  5. @Will – Seventeen? That is a lot. However, I’m a firm believer that the number of clicks don’t matter as much as how easy each click is. That doesn’t mean 17 clicks isn’t too many, I think it is, but the fact that each click is so painful and requires so much mental overhead is staggering.

    @Anthony – I think this highlights some of the pitfalls when you try to standardize design and interfaces across multiple devices. But then again, I think Metro is a decent interface, they just need to put the things people want in better locations.

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