Xbox LIVE Arcade

  By Shamus   Mar 30, 2011   114 comments

splash_xbla.jpg

So apparently there’s this thing happening on the Xbox LIVE Arcade. That’s the marketplace where you can buy casual and indie games for your Xbox. The marketplace has a customer-driven rating system, as online marketplaces do. Apparently, the fans of some games are voting down all other games so that their treasured titles can rise to the top. That’s a serious problem. Something like that can make a hash out of the whole system, rendering the scores useless to prospective customers. It could lead to a fanboy-driven flamewar like we see in certain corners of March Mayhem. Only here, instead of irritated fans you wind up with reluctant customers and lowered sales, which directly affects people trying to earn a living. I feel bad that Microsoft has a mess like this on their hands, and…

Hang on a second:

Many of the developers in the App Hub forum have been talking about ways to improve the system, but the biggest problem seems to be that users don’t have to play the game they are rating, or even own an Xbox. Changing that policy might go a long way to reducing this kind of manipulation.

Really Microsoft? XBLA is seven years old. What possible excuse could you have for missing such a glaringly obvious and easily implemented feature? Have you not been in the software business very long? Are you new to the internet? Are you not getting the funding you need? Are you unfamiliar with your own userbase of defective hatetrash?

How did you think this would turn out?

I would laugh at your misfortune, but it’s indie developers that are being hurt by your willful incompetence.

A Hundred!14114 comments. Quick! Add another to see if this message changes!


  1. JPH says:

    How does Microsoft manage to fail in so many ways? It’s baffling.

    • Christopher M says:

      It’s Microsoft. When they fail, they fail hard.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Easy:When they fail,they still get money while others suffer.So why should they try not to?

      • Klay F. says:

        Interestingly, I wonder if someone could sue in some sort of anti-monopoly court case and use the various Microsoft fails as evidence? I mean, if a company can so thoroughly fail in every way, and still prosper like Microsoft does, shouldn’t that be a monopoly?

        • Mari says:

          Yeah, because the last couple of antitrust cases against Microsoft helped sooooo much.

        • Deoxy says:

          Microsoft was DECLARED a monopoly in court, then… let go. With no penalty. There is apparently no one they can’t buy off.

          • False Prophet says:

            This is probably hearsay, but a friend of mine claimed that Microsoft’s antitrust difficulties were a result of refusing to play the DC game of paying lobbyists and making “campaign contributions” to elected officials. Once they realized this was the problem and started buying off politicos like every other major corporation, their legal woes evaporated. Funny how that works, eh?

      • Deoxy says:

        EXACTLY.

        Step 1: Give us (Microsoft) money.
        Step 2: Who cares? We already got our money!

    • Irridium says:

      Microsoft’s chief form of innovation is in failure and stupidity. And boy, do they do a damn good job at it.

    • Amarsir says:

      You’re only seeing what’s there, not what Microsoft could have dominated but didn’t. The reason Microsoft is successful is because their core business – making user-friendly OSs that run on a broad hardware cross-section – is the one thing they were actually pretty good at. And I suppose Office too. But portable devices, search engines, social media, gaming networks, Internet Explorer … these are things they haven’t done well and as a result haven’t dominated despite the advantage given by their position.

      As for the anti-trust case, that was specifically about Internet Explorer. It was quite a stretch then and clearly absurd in hindsight. The claim was that by giving Internet Explorer away for free they were preventing companies like Netscape from making a profit selling their own browser. A good lawyer can rationalize anything but you won’t find “monopoly power causes free stuff” anywhere in an Economics textbook. And more importantly history bore out the opposite: Netscape the code became open-source Mozilla behind Firefox and Safari thus pretty much guaranteeing no browser sales, while Netscape the company got purchased by AOL who decided to itself give out Internet Explorer with the AOL brand (for free).

      Companies are composed of humans who, by nature, fail often. But when tested by the market the correlation between success/failure and good/bad work is pretty close. I’m generally comfortable trusting that over the DoJ + a court, which is also composed of humans yet bears no market test for actual value.

  2. Volatar says:

    Wow Shamus, so much more content on your blog this past week than normal. Awesome.

  3. Sean Riley says:

    Question: Wouldn’t that system lead to the biggest AAA franchises, with the most fans and the most commonly rabid fans, dominating the ratings there?

    Question: Who do you think Microsoft’s professional sympathies lay with?

    Seems to me the system works exactly as they wanted it to.

    • Shamus says:

      The biggest franchises will always dominate the ratings. The problem isn’t that the big guys are big, it’s that the little guys are getting stepped on. People would still have to buy a game before they could downvote it. If I was an indie dev, I would be cool with that.

      Allowing people to downvote stuff they don’t own doesn’t help the big titles THAT much, not unless they want to begin a war of openly campaigning for downvotes.

      • Aldowyn says:

        And, just mentioning, there aren’t really any “biggest AAA franchises”. Most of the time, no one pays attention to user reviews, but they do on XBLA and similar platforms, because that’s essentially the only input you’re going to get on many of these games, so people gaming the system this way is going to hurt the actually good games and, subsequently, the whole niche industry.

        And surely that’s not even that hard a fix to make…

        • ima420r says:

          I never bother with the ratings on xbl because every game on there has a demo available. In fact I don’t know anyone who goes by any of the ratings for any games. Everyone just needs to get the demop, try it, and if you like it you buy it.

          • Specktre says:

            I never use the rating system, and whoa, whoa, whoa–WHAT?

            “Many of the developers in the App Hub forum have been talking about ways to improve the system, but the biggest problem seems to be that users don’t have to play the game they are rating, or even own an Xbox. Changing that policy might go a long way to reducing this kind of manipulation.”

            Are you serious? You don’t even need an XBOX to vote? That’s absolutely ludicrous!

          • Kian says:

            And do you download the demo for every single game on xbla? How do you choose which demos to download in the first place?

            I expect there’s a ‘top rated’ or some other sort of list that you browse, at some point.

            • Lisa says:

              For my part, I occasionally go through the list of all games, ignoring those I’ve looked at before and download the demos for those that look “interesting”. Usually this comes down to the game description and the screen-shots. However, given it costs “nothing” to download a demo, I sometimes just go nuts and download reams of them to try later.

              I always avoid Top Rated lists and pretty much have ever since I decided that any kind of games Chart doesn’t reflect what I like.

  4. bbot says:

    “Defective hatetrash”? Kinda harsh, considering the majority of live subscribers are of minority races.

    • Alex says:

      You’re referring to trolls, right?

      • Patrick The Caustic says:

        Dude….don’t even. That’s not only untrue, but entirely irrelevant to the rant. Don’t try to make that into somthing racial….. seriously?

        • Alex says:

          Wait, what? I was suggesting that the minority race he was referring to was this one. It was an apparently failed attempt to make fun of the suggestion that Shamus was being racist.

          • Aldowyn says:

            @Alex I can see what you meant fairly easily, but I can also see where Patrick is getting his side from. Sometimes it’s hard to interpret yourself differently from what you meant…

            @bbot I’d be interested in seeing a source for that, with exact statistics. And I think he’s referring to the infamous reputation of Xbox Live.

            Oh, and Shamus? There’s no telling if the XBLA community, which is likely a smaller subset of the overall XBL community, is nearly as bad as what people see as the predominant species on XBL. Just saying.

            • Shamus says:

              For the record, I’ve got my Xbox LIVE Gold acct like most other 360 owners. I know there are good people out there. But I think it’s common knowledge that the bad apples of XBL are remarkably bad.

              • Soylent Dave says:

                Do you not find that it depends quite heavily on the game, Shamus?

                Without wanting to jump on any already overflowing bandwagons, CoD multiplayer is where I tend to encounter the most flagrant racism, homophobia etc., also GTA 4. I get the impression from my son that Halo is a bit like that as well.

                Whereas gamers playing Assassin’s Creed, Red Dead Redemption or Tom Clancy games tend to be a lot friendlier. And older.

                Which I think probably has something to do with it (as does the fact that the latter group of games are much less popular, of course).

          • Bubble181 says:

            I think Patrick was replying to bbot, not you, though I could be mistaken.

            Either way, there’s no way to see the skin colour of other users in XBL, so I don’t think that affects anyone, at all. The only people playing the race card are people who *want* to make it about racism.

            • Zeta Kai says:

              Technically, the majority of EVERYBODY is a “minority”, considering that the term minority is commonly defined as “non-whites + all females”. When your standard definition of “majority” is basically “as white & male as Shamus Young”, you’re really only talking about a small subset of humanity. Therefore, the racial aspect of this discussion is moot, as it always was.

              Also, “defective hatetrash” is an apt & succinct definition for YouTube commenters, FailBlog commenters, & most commenters on just about any forum without strong moderation. Unfortunately, that speaks very badly for the bulk of humanity. But, of course, those commenters are most likely minorities, statistically speaking, which makes me a racist for disparaging them, even though I don’t actually know their races or genders, & am only judging them on their atrocious behavior. God, I hate my racist self so much. I suck.

              • wootage says:

                If it makes you feel better, the people who qualify for that description are, independent of race, color or creed, still a minority – of the people even using the Internet, let alone our species. They just make their presence known several times more often and loudly than the rest of us.

          • Patrick the Remorseful says:

            Was@bbot…not you dude…sorry

    • X2-Eliah says:

      Why is it that there is ALWAYS someone who brings out the race card? I mean, dude, really? You are honestly doing this? Ugh. So if I call you a troll/idiot, am I now racist too?

  5. HeadHunter says:

    Having worked for Microsoft for 5 years, I can say that MS has a history of underestimating the stupidity of so much of its userbase. It’s great to assume the best of your customers, but historically they’ve shown themselves to be otherwise!

    @bbot: Any evidence for your claim that the “majority of Live subscribers are minorities”? Or are you making an unsubstantiated claim in the hopes of playing the “racist” card? Shamus didn’t mention minorities, you did. One need only play online a few times to witness how many people are hateful, homophobic, and otherwise… defective. Why would you think that would apply only to minorities?

    Regardless of the ethnic makeup of Live users, you cannot denyh that such people exist.

  6. Some Jackass says:

    Newgrounds has that sort of system too where you can vote on an upload regardless of actually playing/watching it.
    I remember they had it changed but I recently went back and saw they were back to what they had before which makes little sense.

    • Aldowyn says:

      You’d still have to go to the page for the game, right? That, as far as I can tell, would be the only way to determine if you’ve played a game.

      On XBL, you have to buy, or at least download, the dang thing, so it wouldn’t be that hard.

    • eric says:

      Probably because people complained about it. You’d be surprised just how many people will get butthurt over change, no matter if it’s good or bad.

    • MooseHowl says:

      Good Old Games has the same problem. As long as you have an account, you can rate any game whatever you want regardless of whether you own it.

      You don’t have to watch a video on YouTube to give it the thumbs down, either.

      It’s starting to look to me like voting systems where the voters are accountable are the exception, not the rule.

      • Matt K says:

        Actually for GoG I can understand that system. These games have been out for a long time before GoG ever started selling them so if I want to rate say Septerra Core I should be able to since I bought the game 10 years ago. For stuff liek App stores or XBla where the product essentially only exists there, having to own it to review it makes more sense.

      • eric says:

        The thing is, you can usually just read user reviews to get a far better picture of a game… while it’s definitely true that most games are rated positively out of nostalgia, and because they have established fanbases, I find that the generally positive, friendly and intelligent community GOG.com has makes such a system work. The same can’t be said for “the ignorant masses” or whatever pejorative you wish to use.

        • MooseHowl says:

          A mature or functional community is easily the best way to counteract trolls, absolutely. They have no way to get in and they’ll be weeded out over time.

          That doesn’t mean the system can’t be abused at all, however, and it’s nearly impossible to bring a heavily abused system back to usefulness without gutting it entirely. GOG, at least, would have an easy enough time of it, simply by erasing the votes of folks who didn’t buy the game.

      • Alexander The 1st says:

        Re: Youtube – do you really want to have to force people to watch the full Rickroll before they thumb it down?

        Actually, the same part applies to video games: must you complete it in full, with all achievements, before you can review a game?

        Not to mention, part of the reason it might be difficult for XBLA to do this is if someone returns the game for a refund. You’d want those people to review the game, so that less returns happen.

        • MooseHowl says:

          On Rickrolls: that’s true. It still means people can vote things down/up that they’ve never bothered to look at, though. It’s more of a hole in the concept of rating things than those specific sites. The line needs to be drawn somewhere, or it sets the system up for abuse.

          If I thumb down a video after .8 seconds, for example, why did I bother even looking at it? And completing a game to review it is a good idea, but not mandatory. Actually PLAYING said game is rather important for a review, however.

          XBLA could solve that rather easily just by making the purchase still count, even if the game was returned later. Then flag any accounts that return a lot of games for refunds. Simple.

  7. Patrick The Caustic says:

    Dude, you know how this works. MS could give a F if the indie gamers make a dime, in MS/XBLA minds these ‘indie’ game producers are no talent hacks and cling-ons that should be grateful Xbox is allowing them to use their platform to demonstrate their marginal abilities. And if a game does OK, maybe they get hired to work on the next Kane & Lynch installment of toilet vomit….
    The fact that these games are produced for a fraction of the cost with a half dozen wirters isn’t even somthing they can notice, much less appreciate.
    In a corporation like that they can’t think that small. They can’t think lower than 7 decimal places to the left. Not even if they wanted to. I know it seems obvious, and it is, but thats what gets lost in the pile of cash….. Details….
    It’s like trying to find a nickel at the bottom of 52 tons of Benjamins…

    • Aldowyn says:

      I bet you’d be surprised how much money they make off the hits, at virtually no cost to them. There’s a reason they do that summer XBLA thing – hits like Limbo probably make them a LOT of money with next to no effort.

    • swimon says:

      If that was their attitude then clearly XBLA wouldn’t exist in the first place since creating it took at least some thought, effort and resources. This isn’t about disrespecting indie developers it’s about incompetently handling a community. My guess is that the problems comes from a lack of monitoring XBLA after it was created, maybe there is no good way to give feedback about the service itself (I don’t own an XBOX so I don’t know)?

  8. Adam says:

    I’m confused about the part where you’re surprised that Microsoft is either too lazy or too uncaring to bother with something that doesn’t affect their bottom line…

  9. SatansBestBuddy says:

    Dear Shamus, please format Kotaku links properly, I went to that one you posted only to be taken to some weird place that took ages to load.

    In the future, add “ca.” to the beginning and remove “!#” before the post number, and then you’ll be taken where you wanted to go, like so: http://ca.kotaku.com/5476938/theres-two-sides-to-every-xbox-live-banning-update

  10. Daniel says:

    I can see why they allow anyone to rate a game. If you only allow those who have bought it to rate it, a huge percentage of the ratings will be positive. The reason is that all the games have trials, and I would think most people try before they buy, and don’t buy if they don’t like it.

    Thus, all the games would probably be rated 4 to 5 stars, destroying the usefulness of any rating system.

    I think a better solution would be to only allow those who have played at least the trial version to rate the game. Haters could still download it and play it once to rate it. But, Microsoft could have a list of the most downloaded games (or most rated games) for the past week in addition to the best rated. Thus, even haters downloading a game to vote it down could possibly benefit the indie game designers by getting them on a list of currently hot games in the Xbox Live dashboard.

    Casual players see that list, go “Ohh, that game was the number 5 most downloaded, I’m gonna check it out.”.

    Haters still get to hate. Indie designers get to benefit. The rating system still kind of means something. I don’t see a lot of downside, although I’m sure someone will poke a hole in this idea.

    • Jennifer Snow says:

      Yeah, number of downloads is often a better indicator than various people’s weird ratings anyway.

      • Aldowyn says:

        I can see where you’re coming from with the letting trial people download, but that’s like letting people rate a full-length game based on the demo. It’s not really a fair representation, usually, though admittedly a lot closer than a demo would be for a AAA game.

        I’m actually not sure whether I agree with the point I just made or yours, but it’s something to consider.

        • Audacity says:

          I can see where you’re coming from with the letting trial people download, but that’s like letting people rate a full-length game based on the demo.

          Is that not the purpose of a demo? If the demo leaves a bad impression that’s the developer’s fault.

          • Aldowyn says:

            I said rate, that’s different from getting a first impression. That’s like rating a sofa because you sat on it in a store, instead of taking it home and using it for months/years/whatever.

            • Alexander The 1st says:

              “The game gets good 20 hours in.”

              Usually a bad sign. If your demo can’t make it seem interesting enough, there’s a problem.

            • Audacity says:

              Again, I don’t really understand. I DO rate a sofa after sitting on it in the store, that’s how I determine if I could sit on it for months/years. If I find it uncomfortable, I don’t buy it. It’s the same way with game demos, though it has been years since there was a demo for any game I was interested in.

      • Mari says:

        What if thousands of people are downloading a game that crashes 10 minutes in?

    • ehlijen says:

      How about two different rating scores? One for the game itself (given by those who bought it) and one for the trial version (given by those who played that).

  11. John Lopez says:

    I love board games. One of the best sites for them is BoardGameGeek and that site has a rating system where anyone can rate games freely. Some example outcomes:
    * a company using its play tester community of a couple hundred to rate it a 10 prior to actually being available to the public… and violently lambasting anyone who pointed it out
    * a madman who used the account name ShillKing who used many false accounts to rate up his game and rate down others (he eventually showed up to the BGG convention and learned how bad his games *really were* and quit doing it…)
    * multiple incidents of a personal grudge holders enlisting sockpuppet accounts to vote things down/up and to negative thumb bomb users who rated “incorrectly” (negative thumbs are now removed)

    Eventually they implemented the “shillbuster” algorithm. They won’t tell anyone how it works, but some of the basics are obvious:
    * Every game gets a pile of 6 votes (out of 10) from the beginning: moving that number takes more than a few shill accounts.
    * Basic statistical outliers tests to roout out shill accounts (and to be honest, most shills are bone dead stupid about how they do it)
    * The fact the negated votes are done *silently*, so countermeasures are harder to measure
    * Human inspection periodically when the natives get unhappy about some new outbreak

    It isn’t perfect, but it works shockingly well against a highly educated group of malcontents.

    • Will says:

      I suspect you’ll find they keep it secret because the method they use is very, very simple and would be easy to defeat if you knew how it works. As you yourself noted, the vast majority of malicious votes are painfully obvious even to a simple statistics analysis algorithm.

    • eric says:

      It really is upsetting to see that people many might consider to be, ahem, into slightly more cerebral forms of entertainment, are still apparently just as petty, stupid and generally emotionally unstable as everyone else… or maybe it’s comforting.

      Then again, as someone who was given 200+ hatemail comments and downvotes on Kotaku for posting a list of 20ish Fallout 3 plot holes, AFTER BEING ASKED TO PROVIDE EVIDENCE FOR FALLOUT 3’S POOR STORY, I suppose I have little excuse to retain any faith in humanity whatsoever.

      • Patrick the Obtuse says:

        Ya know, I know this is probably assault on the deceased Equidae, but the largest and most glaring hole in all of fallout 3 was, that even if you removed the radiation from the water in the Potomac Basin, it’s still salt water. unless you are going to not only remove radiation and the salinity from the entire Atlantic….. just beyond stupid….

        • Falcon says:

          Maybe the geography has isolated the basin from the Atlantic, and maybe they have a desalinification plant next door to the magic radiation removal plant. Maybe the writers aren’t just incompetent hacks, but instead weren’t able to put in logical justifications for all the stupid… right?

      • Tizzy says:

        I feel your pain. Faith in humanity is overrated anyway…

  12. guy says:

    It doesn’t actually require people to use an Xbox to do the rating system? Seriously?

  13. Jokerman89 says:

    People really vote down games so theres are higher? Why? What do they gain from that.

    • Shamus says:

      There’s a list of “top rated” games. They are ranked according to average score. If you want your game to rise and you’ve already given it 5 stars, then the easiest thing to do is to give 1 star to every game ahead of it.

    • Klay F. says:

      People do this for the same reason that the top 5 movies at IMDB have a retardedly high levels of both 10-star votes and 1-star votes.

      People need to see their favorite movie on top of the list so their e-peen will go up.

      • False Prophet says:

        Almost every rating system on the web has had the same issue since Amazon foisted this on us 15 years ago. Most of the people who can be bothered to review or comment on a title are those who really liked it (5 stars), or really hated it (1 star). There are review-bombers too, but those guys are trying to achieve the same ends as one of the other two groups anyway.

        Thoughtful, balanced reviewers who give 2-4 stars and good reasons for their ratings are a tiny minority in most online communities. I fully understand why YouTube moved to the Like/Dislike rating system instead.

        • HeroOfHyla says:

          I think the issue is that people don’t know what the mid level rankings mean. Consider game review magazines: Some have “average” as 5/10. Some have have average as 7.5/10.

          An eBay store I was browsing had a notice saying something along the lines of “a user satisfaction rating of below 100% seriously hurts our business. If you have a problem, please don’t vote. Instead, contact us to explain the problem.”

        • I think also many people will rate 5 stars, or maybe 1 star, not because they think it deserves either, and not even because they want it to be rated as either, but because they look at the current rating, say 3.5, think “This should really be around 4 to 4.5″, and rate it 5 because they know their vote’s effect will be tiny and they want to do as much as possible to shift it towards where they think it ought to be.
          So many of the same people who rate something 5 stars probably wouldn’t if they were told, “Rate the (movie, game, whatever); your rating will be the one displayed”

        • Tizzy says:

          Doesn’t Amazon require you to *review* the item too? To me, the reviews are the thing, not the ratings. In general, I will read the 1-star reviews and they usually tell me all I need to know. If I have a doubt, I move onto the 5-star ones. It doesn’t take that long, compared to wasting my time on something that ends up not matching my tastes.

  14. HarveyNick says:

    Oh man, I’m probably going to regret bringing this up, but here goes…

    When the iPhone AppStore came out it had exactly the same problem. A hell of a lof apps had artificially low ratings because idiots would show up and write reviews like this:

    “I’m not going to waste my money on this. 1*”

    “I’m not going to buy this, I don’t see the point of it. Anyone who does must be stupid. 1*”

    Then somewhere along the line they made the really obvious change that you had to actually buy an app before you could rate it. I suspect they originally just wanted to get as many reviews as possible, and didn’t want to limit the means by which people could review the apps. It was still dumb though, given that there was no way you could have actually used the app in question without first buying it from the app store.

    It is better now, but the idiot factor is still very much in play…

    • Robert says:

      The App Store for computer software has the same restriction, which is stupid because you can’t rate/review software that you already own. What’s more, the App Store program can know that the software is installed and still not let you rate it.

  15. Neil Polenske says:

    “Changing that policy might go a long way to reducing this kind of manipulation.”

    Good lord this statement right here just really grates on me teeth! It ‘might’? How would it not? I suppose its the artifice behind it that pisses me off. They are absolutely willing to sound like complete idiots as long as it doesn’t appear like they’re…y’know, I don’t even why they’d say something so stupid.

    P.S. Anyone else notice how perfectly the topic thumbnail matches the topic title?

  16. Patrick the Parsimonious says:

    I rate all of you, this site and it’s creator as:
    5 out 5 on the Absoludicrous scale.(http://www.seanbaby.com/absoludicrous/absoludicrous.htm)

    Erik and Seanbaby have rated this site as 15000 di**s, most of you well above that. (http://www.seanbaby.com/e32001/part08.html)

    Half a star.

    On hustler’s scale, you would all be fully limp.

    Personally I would rate this site as equivalent as being raped by the world’s funniest dildo.

    Even in the apparently racially charged XBLA community you are thought of in higher regard than in general society. Suck it up Troll lovers!

    • Simon says:

      I have absolutely no idea what just happened.

      • I think somewhere in the poster’s head there are these half-formed accompaniments and tone flavourings and {this kind of satire}{/this kind of satire} tags which transform it all to witty genius and would let you know just whose ox was supposed to be gored. Unfortunately, none of it comes through in plaintext.

        • Patrick the Rabid and Incoherent says:

          Oh he gets it…. I suppose I shouldnt be surprised not many others do. But for the person for whom it was intended, he got it…..well…. I hope he did. If he didnt then I suppose it isn’t satire and humor but nonsense and idiotic ramblings…… hmmm
          I rate my own post as 10500 dicks….

          • Falcon says:

            Oh Patrick your comment spree has left me unsure whether to be mortified or doubled over in laughter. The sheer randomness you’ve leveled at Shamus is at least a 3 on the absoludicrous scale.

            • Patrick the Boorish says:

              I am shamus’ brother. The above is an accurate representation of our….communication style? It isn’t so much english as a mish-mash of quotes, inside jokes and references to movies.

              I believe at one point Heather rebuked the both of us for having a 2 minute conversation without using an original thought, complete sentence or lack of vulgarity. Well, the last part was just me…but you get the idea.

              I have a new job that has tied me to a desk sifting throught the remnants of a 30 year old companies attempt at an accurate inventory system. Its quite boring…. so I’ll be around much more often. I’m sure Shamus is thrilled.

              My boss, not so much…..

              • Mari says:

                I think all sibs converse in such a manner. It’s virtually incomprehensible when my sisters get together. In the middle of a conversation a seemingly unrelated movie quote comes up and suddenly we’re off, speaking a language only we understand, tossing quotes back and forth and calling each other nicknames that nobody else would possibly understand.

                Signed,
                Sasquatch, Chieftan of the Ubangi Warrior Tribes

                • Falcon says:

                  Yeah, I get that. I do that as well, not so much with my brother, but rather a friend that I’ve known since we were both in diapers. His wife has expressed her befuddlement at more than one occasion. 26 years of in jokes can be rather difficult to decipher.

              • Tizzy says:

                I must confess I was wondering: “Who *is* this Patrick guy who has been posting so many comments these days?” Now we know (and knowing is half the battle).

  17. Sucal says:

    Speaking of March Mayhem, how is everyone going?

    Currently coming second in the standings, so does that mean I benefit from the fanboy rage, Heck I might even get a publishers club out of something I did in 20 seconds while drunk.

    Anyway, back onto the topic at hand. I always found the xbox live system to be a joke, considering the other night. I was looking for games to buy, and game across a certain bit of fun known as GTA San Andreas. Which was available from them the UK site, but couldn’t be downloaded in Australia.

    Amusingly though, despite it not even being available in my country, I still was able to give it a one star vote.

    • Zukhramm says:

      I filled it out halfways I think, then forgot about it. I’d have won if that was not the case. I’ll take it.

      The March Mayhem pages is the most confusing thing to navigate I’ve ever seen though, I can’t find anything.

  18. WWWebb says:

    …or instead of a standard rating system, they could switch to a Netflix-style predictive rating system. The ratings (stars) I see would be dependent on how I’ve rated other games, so even though “Shooter McShooty gets Shot at” is the most popular game on Live Arcade, if I’ve consistently rated shooters low, then it will probably only show up with 2-3 stars when I browse the marketplace.

    There is enough variety in games out there that they should be able to implement a suggestion system. Where’s the downside? There are already demos for every game, so I’m unlikely to buy a game merely because it’s rated highly. Giving me useful suggestions just makes me more likely to buy a game I would never have noticed otherwise. It also makes me MUCH more likely to actually rate games (since I almost never rate games now).

    • Falcon says:

      I’d go with something like that, maybe a hybrid of that and the Pandora system. Pandora has worked fairly well for me in the past despite my very focused and obscure tastes. Anything that combines overall ratings with ‘taste’ ratings to give a weighted ‘you will probably like this’ rating is good in my book.

    • Mari says:

      Netflix works marginally well but in general I fear predictive ratings systems thanks to early forays into Pandora which, at the time, thought that my love of Fountains of Wayne and Harvey Danger predicted great affection for random top 40 wannabe hip-hop. Huh-wha??? Meanwhile, no matter how often I told Pandora that I never wanted to hear Stephen Lynch again, I got Lynch on my Great Big Sea station at least every 4 songs. The problem, for the record, wasn’t in Pandora’s predictive ratings. The problem was that Pandora had signed a deal with certain labels in order to have access to their music that promised to play other artists of the same label at frequent intervals. My point is that predictive ratings can be abused just as certainly as troll-bait ratings.

      • wootage says:

        I recently bailed on Pandora because they wouldn’t let me skip the third “totally wrong for my choices” song in a row. The site popped me a message saying “our licence with the artists forces us to limit the number of songs you can skip in an hour”.

        Iunno if the licensing forced the selection of 60s stoner tunes on my Instrumentals category (their magic algorithm is about 60/40 in my experience) but I do know that I don’t have to listen to any music or watch any television show that I don’t want to.

  19. Xpovos says:

    My friends and I game XBLA together occasionally, but we mostly avoid everyone else for reasons like the userbase problems you’re noting here. They tried to figure a system that wouldn’t suck… I mean you have different ‘areas’ of play (Recreation!!) and you can rate players and avoid them… but 95% of the population has a 5-star rating because the userbase that is bad survives in gangs, while the userbase that is good seems to be solitary and isolated from each other.

    I’ve thought of asking you to help set up 20S groupings on XBLA, since it seems to work well for TF2 or Minecraft… except this would actually affect games I play. Course, then, you’re just doing Microsoft’s job for free, and it’s not easy, so–

  20. Jeff says:

    We should all go and downvote Microsoft’s games, regardless of what they are. Perhaps when their own games are suddenly falling for no reason they’ll adjust the system.

    “This game sucks because I can’t play it – it should come with an XBox.”

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