Monthly, the Hawk gives you the good, the bad and the ugly of Xbox Live Marketplace content. This time we’ll check how the Marketplace stands after the recent Dashboard update.

There’s a general consensus at the moment: no one’s completely pleased with the changes Microsoft implemented with the latest dashboard update. It’s not just the ever present ads, or how things were relocated. It’s a fact that everyone complains if something has been moved from where you found it until recently. Of course the new design is attractive, but how you find things now will make you cry to have things as they were before.

Of course, this is the new Kinect-style environment, developed for the owners of this wonderful device. Alas, maybe they should have considered that the traditional user base (using a game controller) is still more than a 70% of the total install base (this is just an approximate amount, but I think it’s short). We’re the ones that are not ready yet to start giving our console voice commands, and available space in our rooms is a serious consideration before buying a Kinect.

The gaming community is already giving Microsoft enough ideas about how to improve the experience for all of us. I want to add my ideas to the list, with the hope that we can get a better dashboard in the near future (or before the Xbox 720 gets announced).

1.- That chatpad now really comes in handy. Look, I know you’re not too keen on buying the keyboard for your controller, but after trying to locate the latest video craziness on Youtube by using the visual keyboard and your controller, you’ll appreciate how fast you can write with the added bulk in your hands.

2.- Ads on your Bing search? No way! Bing helps out if you’re trying to locate anything on the marketplace, be it a game (retail, arcade, indie), a TV show or movie, you name it; but it’s inexcusable to include an ad on every search that has nothing to do to what you’re looking for.

3.- Isn’t the 360 first and foremost a gaming console? If you remember the old dashboard, the games section was the most important one. On the old My Xbox app, the first side selection was My Games. If you went up, the next app was the Game Marketplace. What do we have now?  The Home section is the where we have the Quickplay app (thank you). Then you find Social, TV, Videos THEN Games. Personally I don’t have TV access thru my 360, and although I do use Youtube, SciFi and MSN a lot, I spent more time checking on the new games, demos and DLC. So please put it AFTER the Social section.

3a.- Addendum 1: the Community Spotlight? It should be in the Social section, thank you.

4.- Who comes up with the suggested games list (Picks)? If you turn left on the Game Marketplace main screen, you will find some suggestions for you to try. Here’s a great recommendation: use the best games currently available, or the most sold, or (if it’s possible) games based on the genre most selected by the gamer (if most of my games are FPS then the suggestions should follow suit).

5.- Where are the Indie games now? Yeah, they don’t have their own section on the Game Marketplace; they’re now on a rotating screen under the sub-Games section (rotating as in you have to wait for it to appear again so you can browse the Indies games list). Give them their own section as before.

5a.- Addendum 2: … and include Indie games selection by Genre, for pete’s sake!

6.- And speaking of Genres… Someone should check those. IMHO, Castle Crashers IS NOT an RPG, just as Lips is not an Avatar game.

7.- X to Play and A for Details, or A to Play and X for Details? If there’s something weird about the Quickplay option on the main section and My Games app under the Games section, is that you’ll get confused when you want to play a game selected. The logical selection would have been to press A and play the game selected, or press X for game details. Unfortunately we have this pastiche of X/A or A/X for these options depending on the screen you’re located at the moment.

8.- Can I ask for just one little thing? Something that could be really wonderful is to allow your downloaded videos (all or some of them as selected) to play continuously (randomly or as you set them). How about including this on the next patch?

That’s for now. Feel free, my dear reader, to also add your comments about other options you’d like to see on your dashboard.


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