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Ask X3F ... Xav is not Richard edition

With Richard on vacation a few things were left hanging in the air. What will come of the Fancast this week? Well, it was put on hold so we all could rest. Who will force us to work? Well, we're all drinking lots of coffee to stay awake. What will happen to Ask X3F? Well, about that ...

Loyal readers will know that the last time one of us tried to do an Ask X3F segment the response wasn't exactly positive. But we decided that answering your growing list of emails was more important than anything else so we decided to go ahead (with Richard's approval of course) and take over this week. We assure you Richard will be back to answer all your Xbox-related concerns soon but in the mean time it's Xav's turn to get hated on for doing Richard's weekly feature. This week we cover everything from lost cables to niche games (like Oneechanbara in the image above) not making it Stateside. Read it, learn it, love it. Also, keep all possible flaming creative for bonus points.

Got a question for Ask X3F? Maybe you have a story or some information you'd like to share? Send it all to ask [at] xbox360fanboy [dawt] com.

I'm an American who moved to Brazil last year, and of course, I took my Xbox 360 with me. The bad news however, there is almost nothing available for me to download over Xbox live and leaves me with a message like "This download is not available for your region."

I tend to think that as Microsoft rolls out their region by region availability, they tend to forget about Brazil. I mean c'mon, I want to play Fable 1 before Fable 2 comes out and I have to Microsoft points to support it.

I just wanted to make some noise about this issue and maybe they will hear my plea.
-- Chris

Personally I kind of feel your pain. As a Canadian gamer I tend to miss out on a ton of Xbox Live Marketplace content too, however, rarely content as big as a demo or any Xbox Originals. The issue has a few answers and for the most part it isn't entirely the fault of Microsoft. Different regions have different regulations for content and are specifically only licensed to certain areas in the network. As an example, Canadian television regulations make it almost impossible to deliver TV programs via the Video Marketplace because of a Federal mandate that at least 70% of content designed for Canadians be Canadian-made. My point is, while Brazil uses the same rating system as North America that rating must also take into account regional regulations so it may translate to a higher cost for Microsoft because all Xbox Originals are required to be re-rated by the ESRB. As for demos, the question is up in the air on that one. Licensing regulations may play a part in your issue but so can other things like networking support and an overall demand. Microsoft may feel the demand for specific content isn't high enough to warrant content be distributed to other, smaller, markets.

That isn't to say Brazil isn't a hotbed of gaming bliss but it's possible Microsoft crunched the numbers and decided it didn't make sense. If it's any consolation I'd trade the Xbox Originals program to you for all the beautiful Portuguese speaking women in Brazil. Let me make a phone call and see if that's possible.

My son lost his USB plugs for Rock Band. Any clue where I can get replacements?
-- Jamie

Kids these days! Well, don't fret (PUN!) Jamie. Third party accessory makers like MadCatz make USB extension cables that will fix your problem. Sure the cable will be twice as long but it will make it harder to lose, right?

I Need To Know If they plan on making a Gears of War 2 Xbox just like they did for Halo because if so i will wait to purchase one but if not i will buy a cheap 20gb one?
-- Phillip

Here's the deal Phillip. If Microsoft plans on bringing a bundled Xbox 360 with Gears of War 2 to the market they wouldn't tell anyone now. Otherwise people might not buy an Xbox 360 until then, right? But let's look back into the history of the Xbox 360. Microsoft has made special edition consoles for all of the Halo games at one point or another but in this generation they haven't gotten bundle happy with their top tier titles right off the bat. So, while a Gears 2 special edition might be incoming, don't expect it to come bundled with the game. For one, they know you'll buy it and secondly, bundling a Mature rated title might mix messages to parents at retail this Holiday season. I say snag a 20gig'er now on-the-cheap, if you can. Unless you're dying for a Gears logo somewhere on your Xbox.

XF'ers: I have been wanting to change my gamertag for some time, but the gamertags that I really want are taken by squatters with no gamerscore and no games played. Some may still be connected to original Xbox Live accounts, but really, who cares about those Luddites? Is there any way to request a currently assigned gamertag from Microsoft? If not, should there be? Maybe MS could send an email to the account holder and give them 60, 90, or 120 days to confirm their XBL account, and if not, the gamertag will be forfeited.
-- Roger (Gamertag: rogrees)

Sorry Roger but we don't have good news. If Xbox Live members for the original Xbox still have paying accounts they aren't going to have their precious tags ripped from them! As for X360 squatters, the issue is a little different. Silver members are still apart of the network regardless of status and as such can keep their tags. We're unaware of a specific time-frame for Silver inactivity but as it stands you can snag tags from people who switch their current tags after a few months. So, if someone switches their current tag to something else you could effectively take their original tag after a certain amount of time. We want to say it's between 3-6 months but the specific number couldn't be found at the time of this writing. We're sorry. We failed you.

After watching MS' opening at E3, I had a quick question that I'm surprised MS hasn't addressed yet. First off, let me say I actually don't hate the Avatars like I thought I would, and MS seems to be trying to implement them in better ways than Nintendo right now, and it seems to make the interaction more personal. Anyway, what happens to Gamerpics and Themes after the next dash update? Do Gamerpics stay on some kind of Gamercard (keeping Avatars as simply community interactions)? Does the "mini-dash" still have themes? And in that mock-up they showed, I saw no space reserved for ads, so what happens there? Any info is appreciated, thanks!
-- Matthew

We've answered most of these questions with posts throughout the last week but let me reiterate this for everyone. All Gamerpics and Themes will still be valid and functional with the new Xbox 360 dashboard. In fact, if you really hate Avatar's, Major Nelson says you don't have to create an Avatar. Either way, Microsoft is looking to appeal to a broader audience and this is one of those things that they're going to do. Expect to see a lot of images of Avatars on future Xbox 360 packaging, for example. We don't have to be down with it but luckily it's all apart of a larger, and free, upgrade to the system.

As for ads. They'll be in there. In one image you can see a Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare window (among others) that is arguably an advertisement. Remember, most of the ads (if not all) on the Xbox are related to available content. I've never seen anything specifically unrelated to gaming (even those Burger King ads were related at the time) but I can't say for sure because the ads I see in my region are different from the ads you might see.

A bigger question is options. For example, everyone on staff has a full (or nearly full) Xbox Live friend list. The plan is to make your friends list selectable by seeing the Avatars of your friends in a Friends area. To me this is a nightmare. It's bad enough scrolling through the list but having to go through Avatars doesn't seem to help. According to Microsoft representative Aaron Greenberg in a past interview, the average Xbox Live gamer has about 20-30 friends. Still, that's 30 potential Avatars to scroll through. While I don't mind the Avatars, really what's the difference or the drama about it all, I don't want to have to go through Avatar Town to see who's online. Hopefully you can select options based specifically on each "blade" so I can keep the Avatars and my original Friends listing and it won't be an "all or nothing" kind of situation.

Hey guys, hope you had fun at E3.
I've got a question for ya. We've heard about the new download-disc-to-hard drive feature coming to the Xbox this fall. My question is, do you know if will we be able to download our Original Xbox games?

Thanks and keep us posted

I assume you mean install and not download. So, great question. The answer is, probably not. Microsoft is allowing this functionality to lessen load times of current generation products and making your original Xbox collection installable might not fit into the Xbox Originals strategy. It's not out of the realm of possibility but we don't suspect it's something they'll focus on. On the flip side we wonder how it will work and its possible the system will just allow any readable title to be installable.

Good day,
I've been reading X3F for a little over a year, even before I had my "Sweet Elite" 360 to call my own. I've even turned on a few other readers to your site, who in turn told 2 friends, and they told 2 friends, essentially I'm responsible for potentially hundreds of thousands of your readers. Any chance you can ship me one or two of those sweet little X3F stickers for me to put up in my cubicle here at work?

Many thanks,
-- Mike P. (Gamertag: Perno)

While we thank you for helping to feed our kids we already planned on giving the X3F stickers away! Check out this post and find out more details on how you can score your own X3F Sticker.

Ok, I have a question that might sound pretty far out there but Id really love to know. Is it at all possible that some of the cool Japanese games that we seem to get teased with all the time here in the US will actually see North American releases? Like the Idolm@ster games for 360. There are gamerpics on the US live marketplace for that game. I know this for a fact because I use one for my pic. And that's not to mention the Idolm@ster planes in Ace Combat 6. And Oneechanbara? I read the headline that it was coming here and cheered.. then read it and its for Wii of all things?? How in the world can it come out in the states for that thing and not the 360? Anyway, I'm very glad the 360 seems to be the system of choice this time around for those like me who adore the anime style designs, but I just wish they'd wise up and start bringing over even more of the "niche" stuff.
-- Hotaru99

This is actually the publisher's call and not Microsoft's. If Namco Bandai (aka Bandai Namco) wanted to bring Idolm@ster Stateside we're sure Microsoft wouldn't object but the game hasn't exactly lit up the sales chart in the Far East. We do get plenty of niche (or what are considered niche) games here though. Earth Defense Force 2017, Culdcept Saga and Project Sylpheed all come to mind. The problem? None of them really sold well and can be found at bargain basement prices today (I just bought Project Sylpheed for $5!). The thing is, those three games I mentioned all have mechanics that may appeal to the Western market but failed to get any attention.

It's difficult to tell when games will catch on, Katamari Damacy is a good example of something that was brought over to the PlayStation 2 on a whim and ended up exploding. The onus is on publishers to bring those games here themselves but packaging, shipping, dealing with idiotic buyers (trust me most retail buyers know about as much about games as my mother and fear buying unknown titles) and the fees attributed to rating the games (aka the ESRB) here just put too many factors in the negative column for companies to take a chance. As for Oneechanbara? I'm shocked it never came to North America on the Xbox 360. Also, I'm kind of disappointed because it seems like the type of game that could move some units at the right price.

That's it for this week, folks. Keep sending your questions to: ask [at] xbox360fanboy [dawt] com.

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