For as long as I remember, I’ve been a console gamer. It certainly started in the ‘80s with playing Missile Command on an Atari system, then moving on to the Sega Master System and then the Sega Mega Drive.
During my clubbing days of the ‘90s, it was all about Wipeout and NHL Hockey on the original PlayStation. One of the first clubs in the UK to do so, we even put three PlayStations into a nightclub in Glasgow (Tunnel Club), and the images were shown on screens around the club, as they were mixed over videos and live crowd footage, compliments of the Sound and Light team and a video mixer.
Clubbers that gamed were a huge target audience now.
By the early-noughties, I was the editor of a Scottish-based music and lifestyle magazine called M8. We featured global clubbing, music and gaming from a Scottish perspective.
Still an avid gamer, it was around this time that the original Xbox was released – March 2002 in the UK, I believe.
This was when my (now fractured) love affair with Microsoft’s Xbox brand started. I bought the original Xbox and thanks to Xbox’s UK-based PR team at the time – Red Consultancy – I started getting my first promotional games to review in the magazine for the Xbox.
I went all in. Xbox games were the only ones I would review, I wasn’t interested in any other console. My colleagues were more than welcome to add their console reviews to the gaming pages though. I was just Team Xbox and still have been, right up until now, October 2019.
I got an Xbox 360 around 2006, and still continued to review games for the magazine. Around 2009, I became the editor of tilllate magazine, at the time, the biggest nightlife portal in the world. I still continued to review Xbox games though and eventually moved onto the Xbox One, this time reviewing games for justaweemusicblog.com which has now been running for around eight years.
I stayed loyal to Xbox. Even when they lost all the gains they had made with their 360 over Sony’s PlayStation 3.
They messed up the price point with the launch of the Xbox One around 2013/14 and confused people with its DRM policy at launch. The PlayStation 4 quickly became the number one console again. Despite the hype, and PS4 reminding me with its advertising that it had more game exclusives and it was the number one console, I have stayed loyal.
In 2018 I invested in my home gaming experience. I upgraded my tv to the stunning Sony Oled KD65A1 and changed my Xbox One to the Xbox One X – ‘the world’s most powerful console’. In 4K HDR, console gaming has never looked so good.
But, after a few months, the One X stopped working properly. Thankfully it was still under warranty, so I followed Microsoft’s online instructions and sent the console off to Holland for repair. Microsoft sent me a very noisy replacement in the meantime.
I then heard nothing. Despite repeated attempts at contacting @XboxSupport directly on Twitter and various other channels, nobody replied. This went on for a few weeks. All I wanted to know was what was happening to my console and when I was getting it back?
Language was getting heated at my end, I sadly resorted to memes. But after spending nearly £500 on the console, I felt that a repaired console would surely be better that the loud hand-dryer one they had temporarily given me.
But that’s the thing, it wasn’t temporary. They had replaced the console under warranty. So, rather than just answer my messages and explain this to me, I was left to find this out online after researching why nobody was responding to my messages. A shockingly poor customer experience.
But, like a fool, I stayed loyal.
By now, my 8 year-old boy and all his pals were playing on the Xbox. He uses mine and all his pals have their own consoles. Even now, they all still play Fortnite together every day. So, it was hard to change to the PlayStation, when he had a larger friends’ group than me that were all active Xbox Live users.
At the end of 2018, I invested in two new Xbox controllers from Xbox Design Lab. Both had our gamer names on each one. His was for his Christmas and cost around £90. It broke within a few weeks.
I, again, followed Microsoft’s return policy and sent off the broken controller and after a couple of weeks, I got sent a new one, to the same design. This one then broke after a few weeks too. But, as it was now after three months, my warranty had expired. My ‘£30 a month’ controller for my son was not working and still isn’t.
Again, I’ve tried to contact Xbox Support, the ironically named customer support service from Microsoft. And again, they have failed to reply to me. So, I have a gutted (now 9-year old) boy who knows he was given a Christmas present and it doesn’t work. I explained this to Xbox, but they ignored it.
With Project Scarlett/Xbox 2 from Xbox and the PlayStation 5 both due next year, I really do think I’ve reached the end of my Xbox loyalty. I seem to be leaning that way.
What’s holding me back is just the fact that I can’t believe that Xbox don’t care and still don’t want to keep their customers – especially ones that have been loyal to them since 2002!
It may actually be their support team that is shockingly bad – going for glory with likes, shares and success stories, but ignoring customers like me who really are having a bad experience with them. Are the key people behind the success of the brand even aware at how poor their customer support mechanism is?
At least I know next year I won’t purchase the console blindly. I will make an informed decision before choosing Xbox or Sony.
My reasons for this are above, but it’s not just how poor Xbox have been. It’s how good Sony have been too. My recent customer experience with Sony was incredible.
In September this year, panels on my Sony Oled KD65A1 failed. I contacted Sony on Twitter and they replied (here that Xbox Support?). After going through some software updates and a factory reset, they replaced my TV with the 2019 model Sony Oled KD-65AG9. An absolutely outstanding service and now I’m a Sony brand advocate. My next TV will be Sony. My console may be too.
If you got this far, then thanks for reading. Why did I write this? Well apart from the obvious brand disappointment, I got notice that my annual subscription to Xbox Live has just been charged to my visa card today. More irony.