Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Third World Gamer's Guide to Jumping In to Xbox 360 gaming

Are you a 'third world gamer'? Well, the truth is I only coined the term because I live in a third world country, the Philippines, and here console gaming is not officially supported by anyone. Nintendo, Sony or Microsoft (USA). They don't recognize our country, they don't see us on the map other than being good for offering technical support services. I can't blame them, though. The perception is, people in the Philippines don't have the 'disposable income' to engage in an expensive hobby like video gaming. This argument is usually given in ignorance of the fact that Filipinos do have some technical savvy. They are familiar with computers and the Internet. They spend on lavishly expensive cellular phones costing upwards of $400 or more. Filipinos know what a 'video game' is, and don't live in a country where there's only coconut trees everywhere (the common perception).

Anyway, this post is really for Filipinos here in the general Manila area who are thinking about 'JUMPING IN' to Xbox 360 gaming. Because of the lack of 'official support', jumping in to Xbox 360 gaming is quite hard for a Filipino here in Manila. There's the risk of the 3 Red Lights of Death (3RL), there's no warranties offered in most of the electronics stores that sell Xbox 360s. For foreigners reading this who live in a luxurious First World country....would you believe, a lot of stores here give you a 1 week warranty for buying any game console. ONE. WEEK. Imagine that. If you think about the hassles of getting 3RL and having to work with Microsoft to resolve your problem....imagine what a 'third world gamer' has to go through. Once a Third World Gamer's console breaks, that's it, $400 down the tubes. And we can't simply call Microsoft and have it fixed. They'll just give us the usual, "Sorry, but the Xbox 360 is unsupported in your area." If a Third World Gamer wants to continue gaming on the Xbox 360 (or any other console, for that matter), he has to shell out $400 again. And worry about getting 3RL on that newer console, too.

The thing is, the Playstation 3 and the Wii don't really offer a better deal for third world gamers either. Aside from the fact that both the PS3 and Wii are also unsupported in the Philippines, both of them right now have other inherent disadvantages. The Playstation 3 has no games right now. And the games it does have----most of them are of genres that are offered on the Xbox 360 already. The Wii's games are great for parties....but you wouldn't spend too much time with its games. They're fairly simplistic and get tiresome very quickly. The Xbox 360 has the most balanced lineup in comparison to its peers, despite the hardware hassles.

Now on to the guide. This is mostly relevant for gamers in Manila. I don't have a 'correspondent' in other parts of the Philippines, so I apologize if this is unhelpful to Filipinos living in other parts of the country.

I'M A GAMER FROM MANILA, AND I WANT TO BUY AN XBOX 360 CONSOLE BUT I'M AFRAID OF THE 3 RED LIGHTS OF DEATH. WHAT DO I DO?

Try to buy a game console from a store that offers a 1 year warranty for the Xbox 360. Finding such a store out there is a very difficult challenge, as most stores only offer a 1 week or 1 month warranty. Some offer a 6 month warranty but they're really offering a SERVICE WARRANTY which is still extremely risky, considering that their 'service personnel' likely doesn't know what they're doing if they get your broken machine and try to fix it.

The alternative I always offer is to buy from PINOYXBOX's Buy/Sell forums. Currently there is one seller there named DETHRO who sells Asian Xbox 360s for a good price, with a 1 year warranty. If something goes wrong, DETHRO will help you in resolving the problem with Microsoft in Hong Kong. There used to be another seller of Xbox 360s in Pinoyxbox, his name is Servo101. Unfortunately, recently his supplier has stopped offering the Xbox 360. It's not known if he will sell xbox 360's again in the future. So right now, Dethro at PINOYXBOX is your best bet.

Another alternative is to buy from Data Blitz, which can be found in most malls in Metro Manila. They offer the US Xbox 360 and I think they have a 6 month warranty. The reason why I'd recommend their console is because I know that their consoles are sealed and have not undergone any kind of modifications. Most other electronics stores/game stores in Manila are selling modified Xbox 360s, meant to play PIRATED GAMES (Because of the lack of official support, the activity of these stores remains unchecked). The thing is, it is extremely risky to buy from these sellers because you do NOT know if they aren't selling you a game console that has already been returned previously because of the 3RL problem. Since they open up the Xbox 360 to modify it, it's very easy for them to get one of their returned units and resell them full price. Once 3RL hits that unit, the store will just blame Microsoft for their hardware problems and not admit that they simply resold you a unit that was already defective to begin with. In a nutshell, it's VERY VERY RISKY to buy a modified/flashed Xbox 360 console, because of the high incidence of the 3 Red Lights problem. It's much safer to go with a completely sealed, brand new unit. Even if 3RL can happen on a sealed machine, the probability is far less, and there are alternatives you can pursue in order to prevent 3RL for your brand new XBox 360 console.

WHERE CAN I BUY ORIGINAL XBOX 360 GAMES?

Original Xbox 360 games can be bought in stores in Greenhills like Virtual Station, Celtex and Rockfire. Note that these stores sell ASIAN VERSION GAMES. For US version games, you have to buy those from Data Blitz, which can be found in most malls.

Take note of region compatibility before buying a game for your console. If your console is NTSC-J, it is Asian/Japanese and will work with NTSC-J games. If your console is NTSC-U it is a US console and will work with NTSC-U games. I don't know if any store here sells PAL systems, but if you happened to buy a PAL system, you have to buy PAL region games.

Another note: Some games for the Xbox 360 are region free. Consult these region compatibility guides for more information:



AS A GENERAL RULE (if you don't have time for searching through region guides)

These devs make usually region free games:
Activision
Capcom
Ubisoft

These devs usually region lock their games:
EA
Microsoft (though recently, games after Halo 3 are region free)
Namco
Sega
Konami

Consult the region compatibility guides to be sure.

Another place to buy games is from Pinoyxbox's very own SERVO101. He has a thread where he gets orders from gamers and then proceeds to deliver the games or make the games available for pick up. He sells Asian Version titles, though I think you can ask if he will offer a certain US version game up for pre-order. Here's his thread on PINOYXBOX:


I WANT TO SAVE SOME MONEY AND BUY A MODIFIED/FLASHED XBOX 360. WHAT DO YOU THINK?

I think that's a bad idea. There are a lot of disadvantages to buying a modified Xbox 360:

1.
You WILL BE BANNED FROM XBOX LIVE. This makes you ineligible to download online content, updates and play online multiplayer. This is a huge disadvantage and practically ruins the value of your Xbox 360, considering most of the games on the console are best played BOTH offline and online. Even if you never plan on going online, it's still a wasted opportunity considering that broadband costs are going down in the Philippines, and you never know when you'll want to try online functionality on your Xbox 360.

2.
To modify your 360, you have to ask someone to tamper with your console. If the technician screws up, you may shorten the life of your system and get 3RL. If you do it yourself....well, if you really trust your ability then maybe you could pull it off. But the risk is definitely still there. The system is already quite prone to hardware problems; that fact is well documented. Don't make it worse than it already is by tampering with the software firmware on the DVD drive! You don't even know who wrote the code that is used to flash the system to play pirated games. How do you know that it isn't going to cause problems for you later on?

3.
You lose whatever warranty you have. I'm one of the crazies who believes that official support will come here to the Philippines eventually, in one form or the other. Once it does come, hopefully Microsoft can honor the 3 year extended warranty that they provide for the Xbox 360. Official support or not, you lose the warranty that comes with your system from the store/supplier you bought it from, if you tamper with it.

I'M REALLY AFRAID OF 3RL. IS THERE SOME OTHER WAY TO COMBAT THIS PROBLEM?

Actually, there is. While I do not condone modification of the system to play pirated games, I'm not against adding modifications to the cooling system on the Xbox 360 so that it doesn't overheat. In PINOYXBOX there is a person who offers a 3RL PREVENTION PACKAGE for Xbox 360s. His name is 360repair, and not only does he fix consoles with 3RL, he also modifies the cooling system so that the system will run less hot and thus be less prone to problems. According to his signature at Pinoyxbox, he has already helped repair over 140 Xbox 360s and protect them from 3RL. He can be contacted via this thread:


360repair has also fixed my brother's system and it's still working very well to this day, thanks to the improvements on the cooling system.

So there you have it, my short FAQ on how to "Jump In" to 360 gaming if you're a Third World Gamer from Manila. These questions usually get asked on our forums in http://www.pinoyxbox.com/, so I thought that writing up an FAQ like this might be more helpful in case more people in the future ask these same questions. Pursuing the video game hobby here in Manila isn't easy, but it isn't impossible either. It also helps that Xbox 360 gamers here have a very good community to turn to when it comes to learning more about the hardware and the games. The community also has a good sense of camaraderie when it comes to online battles. Just add up our members to your friends lists and you don't have to go into combat alone :D

1 comment:

  1. really wonderful Jumping In to Xbox 360 gaming most graphical game series thanks for bring this game.

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