Microsoft rolled out the new Xbox dashboard yesterday, much to the delight of Xbox 360 users. The update introduced a ton of new features and visual changes, including one particular change that has irritated many users: the new ad placement on the dashboard.
Aside from the switch of the X and Y button function, the new terms of agreement "no sue" clause, and the problems with Xbox LIVE, this is one feature that many users have grumbled over. But is it really something to complain about?
First off, ad placement on the Xbox dashboard is nothing new. Unless you were there for the launch of LIVE for the original Xbox, odds are you grew up with ads on your dashboard. So this really is nothing new.
What IS new, however, is the placement of the ads. Whereas before you would have to scroll over a few boxes before you saw your first ad, now the ads are now featured on every menu. While they aren't the exactly center of focus, they are clearly more visible. And they do play automatically, though without sound.
Microsoft still hasn't made the ads predominantly visible, but they have placed more of an emphasis on them. Yes, they are there and they do play. But unless you scroll over them there is no sound. Even then, once you scroll off it it the sound goes away.
Check out the new ad placement design on the new Xbox dashboard.
Is it annoying having a video play while you look through things? That's up to the user. I personally don't find it distracting, but many do. And many, presumably those with caps on their internet, are complaining about the bandwidth usage it eats up – no matter how little it may be. I guess when you have a cap on your internet speed every little bit adds up.
I think the biggest gripe with the new ad change isn't the fact that the placement has changed, but rather stems back to the age old argument. Why am I paying for Xbox LIVE when these ads are running on every menu of my dashboard? Many users are fed up with paying for an Xbox LIVE subscription when the rival PS3 offers online features and gameplay for free. Nobody wants to pay for online play and they are using the new advertisement placement as an excuse to bring up the argument.
The reality is, the ads are there and aren't going anywhere. The gold membership fee is there and isn't going anywhere – at least no time in the near future. Ads on the old Xbox dashboard didn't change that, and surely a new ad placement won't change it.
One does have to wonder, and worry, as to where this could possibly lead. Obviously, ads are a good source of revenue for a company, and I doubt a company is going to cut a steady stream of income. If anything they'll want to increase revenue which means probably more ads in the future. Now I'm not referring to ads on top of ads, or "Adception".
I'm referring to more ways you can expect companies to feature ads in your every day video games. We already see product placement and on private Steam servers. But what about ads during loading screens? I'm not crazy, Deus Ex: Human Revolution has already begun implementing loading-screen ads with the PC version of the game. You'd be crazy to think a trend like this would go away, rather than just continue to grow.