Another one dusts the bytes

My friend Tom’s Xbox 360 died last week. More specifically, the external hard drive of his Xbox 360 crashed, which meant he lost all his saved game data. All the progress he’d made on any game–gone. Fortunately, one’s Achievements are archived on Microsoft’s server, so his gamerscore is safe.

But that did get me thinking–why doesn’t Microsoft store gamesaves and other vital information on its own servers? From my understanding–and if anyone out there knows better, correct me if I’m wrong–gamesaves aren’t terribly large. If Google can offer 2 Gb of email storage for free, can’t Microsoft provide 5 or 10 Gb as part of the yearly subscription I’m already paying? I’d even pay an extra $10 for such a service. Given the obviously unsatisfactory failure rate of Xbox 360s (my hard drive crapped the bed right out of the box), it would seem like the least they could do. It’s not like storage is that expensive these days.

Larger stuff, like downloadable content and game updates, could be stored on the hard drive, because that can all easily be re-downloaded. But once a gamesave is gone, it’s gone. Yes, there are some ways to save your savegames on your PC if you’re computer-savvy (or willing to spend the money on some third-party peripherals), but most casual players aren’t going to be thinking in those terms, so when the big crash comes, they lose hours (or let’s face it, weeks) of effort in an instant.

Nowadays, when saved games are so important for consoles and storage so cheap, I think MS should step up and offer online gamesave archiving.

  1. Ed left a comment on July 20, 2007 at 2:40 pm

    Regarding dead 360’s, I have two bizarre incidents that occurred in transition from a dead unit to a new one.

    The 360 I procured in March was, like yours, D.O.A. I booted it up and got the red rings of death instantaneously. So, I returned to Circuit City and got another unit.

    That unit was working swimmingly for 26 days. On the 28th, I got hit by the red rings again – only this time, when I rebooted, they went away. Just an anomaly. I checked my Circuit City receipt and saw they offered a 28 day return policy so I decided to box it all up and grab a new one before that expired (this was before MS offered up the 3 year extended warranty so I wasn’t taking any chances.) Anyway, when I got the new unit home, I realized that in swapping out, I had lost all my saves as the old hard drive went with that system.

    But here’s the weird thing – although I could not load my Splinter Cell file, I could choose to start any level up through the one I was currently on before the unit died. So – I think somehow – the Achievement System is tied into that – as you get an Achievement for every level you complete. Obviously it wasn’t pulling that info off the new hard drive or the game itself (natch) so it had to be coming from the MS servers.

    The other weird thing is a glitch with some redownloaded XBLA games – specifcially Alien Hominid. I downloaded that title on the prior unit and then redownloaded to the new unit however ever since I redownloaded it, the game plays but the Save feature does not work. I’m not sure if Alien Hominid creates a Save file on the Hard Drive and then refuses to imprint onto a second hard drive but its weird and has cost me the ability to work on some of the other Achievements.

    That’ll teach us to buy hardware from a software company.

  2. Never mind archiving, the on-line saving should be a storage option like the drive or memory unit. That way you don’t kick yourself for not archiving recently. Of course, the folks not connected to the interwebs are SOL. Anyway, MS has plenty of storage and it should be free as part of your XBL membership, or at least the Gold level.

    As for Ed’s point about Splinter Cell, I experienced the same thing with Gears of War. My game save at the start of a level got messed up somehow — turned out to be a caching issue — and I whacked it just trying to get the game working. It was only the second chapter start, so I didn’t care that much. Anyway, when I did get the cache cleared out I was able to start from that chapter even though I had no saves. It too went off my achievements. I suspect that this is a feature not available to all games however.

Comments are closed.