January 7, 2008 by Tim

So I imagine some of you have heard about these idiots suing Microsoft for five million dollars due to the Xbox Live connectivity problems over the holidays.

I didn’t even know about these issues until a couple of days ago when I heard Microsoft was apologizing for them, and these morons were suing because of it. Until a couple of days ago, I hadn’t touched my 360 for weeks. Between work and the holidays, my little free time for gaming was consumed on the PC by Everquest 2 for me, and WoW with Britanny. So I was not at all affected by any Xbox Live connection issues during the last few weeks, so I can’t speak to it personally. However, I can say that if I had tried to log in, and found the service down… I would have just gone and done something else. Any of the dozen other hobbies I enjoy occupying my time with.

What lives do these people lead that if they can’t get online with their Halos and Calls of Duty that their whole world grinds to a halt? Is their only other option to stare at a wall for hours on end, that it warrants a lawsuit to rectify this horrible injustice? If they can afford a $300 gaming system with games, does it not stand to reason that they could also afford a $15 book?

Of course, a book, silly me. Look at who I’m referring to here, the video generations, with each one lazier and more illiterate than the last, to the point where they’re happy to look like idiots just to avoid the extra millisecond it takes to type/read ‘You’ instead of ‘u’. I mean I support short-hand internet language in the environments where it was bred out of necessity, fast-paced chat rooms and video-games-before-VoIP, where slower typers didn’t have the luxury of full proper spelling and grammar. But these days it seems like this type of communication is all some kids know, and… this is a tangent and a topic for an entirely different rant for another day.

Back on topic, I’ll start off by saying that yes, I agree that it was Microsoft’s responsibility to plan for an influx in activity around the holiday. However, we don’t really know for sure that they didn’t do just that. This is technology here, people, and in this day and age we should know the score by now. Technology is wonderful and makes a lot of things super easy for us, but at the same time it is prone to malfunction. Maybe Microsoft did increase server capacity, and it still wasn’t enough to handle the holiday surge.

And some people will say “We pay for the service, we have a right to expect it to work”. Yes, we do have a right to expect it to work. But online services like this are fluid, ever-changing things, and we have to accept that sometimes we’ll deal with fluctuations while it balances itself after changes. If it sounds like I’ve made this argument before, its because I have. This whole “Oh my god, my “Insert MMO Here” server is down! I want a refund, I want a free month, I am going to sue because they’re not letting me play when I want to play!” crybaby argument is pretty common on MMO forums, and I’ve addressed it before.

A service involving internet servers and an ever-increasing customer base is going to have growing pains, be it Xbox Live or MMOs or whatever. If you go buy a washing machine, you have every reason to believe that it is going to work as advertised right out of the box, and for a good long while. And in most cases, it will. Because the manufacturer can easily do some research and figure out what exactly the usage levels for a single family using this washing machine might be, and then run test after test after test to make sure the machine can stand up to that usage and then some. They have the tools to simulate the wear and tear on the product.

There is no way to simulate a sudden increase of 700,000 people trying to sign on to your servers. You can estimate, you can look at your current numbers and try to multiply and plan ahead. But a lot of problems may not present themselves in testing, and may only show up when under the actual stress of actual users.

So while of course I think it’s Microsoft’s responsibility to make the service function, and I can understand that it can be pretty frustrating to not be able to play a game you wanted to when you have the free time to do so, especially for people with a brand new system for Christmas, a lawsuit? Give me a fucking break.

And five million dollars? Really? What the hell are these kids doing that their time they were supposed to be on playing games is worth five million dollars? Do they get paid $1 per racial/homophobic slur that they toss around during a match? An extra $0.50 if its delivered without their voice cracking?

I recognize that most likely these idiots are just trying to make a point with this thing, but as far as I’m concerned, the point is lost within the stupidity of the whole frivolous lawsuit. Also maybe they’re just doing it for attention. Whichever, I have to believe that they don’t actually think they’re going to get five million dollars. Good gods of gaming, please don’t let them actually think that.

And moreover, don’t let them get it! Can you imagine the precedence set here if our legal system (and I wouldn’t put it past them) awarded them this money? A drop in the bucket for Microsoft, sure, but idiots will be crawling out of the woodwork every time their WoW server goes down for maintenance, suing for “damages”.

That this is a class-action lawsuit almost makes it worse, because in a way they’re lumping the rest of us into the “I care so much about my games I’m going to sue if I can’t have them” category by stating that we all “suffered” from the outage. I don’t know about the rest of you, but even if I had been dying to play CoD4 during the outage, I doubt I would have classified my inability to do so as “suffering”.

I know they’re not going to get the money, but the lawsuit shouldn’t have been filed in the first place.

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