Editorial: Local Xbox 360 games should come with an online warning

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XboxIssues

Last year in November, after years of peaceful protest, we in South African finally got Xbox Live. We were willing to forgive its foibles and follies back then, because new things take time to implement – and nothing ever runs as smoothly as anyone would hope. It’s three quarters of a year later – and there are still some big problems with the service. Big enough that I believe some Xbox 360 should come with a warning on them stating that the online aspects might not work.

This year in April, many Xbox gamers with migrated or new South African Xbox Live accounts found they were unable to redeem the Kombat Kode, an online pass that shipped with new copies of Mortal Kombat. Without that code, they quickly found they were unable to play with others online or download new characters – something that’s crucial to the longevity of a fighting game. It’s still affecting purchasers of the game today; one of our readers, NiteFenix, contacted me trying to find a solution – and I provided him with a workaround that requires setting up a dummy account based in the US or UK that could be used to redeem the code, enabling multiplayer for all gamertags associated with his console.

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The thing is, why should a member of the public have to go looking for backward solutions and workarounds. Why isn’t the online code, for a game sold in South Africa, useable in South Africa? It can’t be the fault of the Film and Publications Board that’s generally blamed for the lack of content on the local Xbox live marketplace. The game’s been rated and is available at retail, adorned with FBP age-rating stickers. Plus, the PS3 version worked just fine.

Mortal Kombat’s  not the first, and is unlikely the  game to have local issues with online code redemption. People who bought the prestige and hardened edition of Call of Duty Black Ops found that they were unable to redeem the codes for the extras they paid good money for – but at least that was sorted out, even if it took a month. Need for Speed Hot Pursuit for the 360 had similar issues – but its work around was much simpler – inputting it on Xbox.com would unlock online features.

Before local Live launched, Microsoft-published games omitted online codes – to adhere to advertising standards so they wouldn’t get in to false advertising quarrels. Quite frankly, the local Xbox Live Marketplace isn’t up to scratch, and until it is Xbox games that require online passes should be sold with warnings that online features might require a gamertag registered to another region.

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Last Updated: July 15, 2011

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I’m old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time – they were capable of being masterpieces. I’m here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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