Dear Xbox 360,
Where to begin? How do you start something like this? Is there any “right” way to do it? I don’t think there is. Maybe by saying that I’m sorry? Yeah, a sincere apology feels right. It’s not the type of sincerity you express at the end of a cover letter to someone you’ve never met in your life and couldn’t possibly have sincere feelings for, mind you; it’s the kind that means something, as you have meant much to me these past eight wonderful years. I know I’m rambling now, but this isn’t easy for me. What I’m trying to say is, I sincerely apologize, Xbox 360. I’m sorry, but it’s time to move on. It’s not you, but it’s not me, either — it’s that dark temptress known as the next generation.
Know that we now head down different paths not necessarily because of some sort of monumental “paradigm shift,” but rather because it is simply the way of things. This is how it has to be, and we both knew this day was coming the morning I brought you home from Best Buy after waiting in line overnight for somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 hours. It was cold, and it was raining. I had to take time off from the crummy Postal Service job I was working at the time to do it, but I did it for you, and, given the chance, I’d do it all over again.
Do you remember that morning? You were sitting cozily inside the heated store; you didn’t know me yet, but I was sitting on the pavement with four or five layers of clothing on when it happened. The man in the blue shirt and yellow name tag got to my point in the line, and he gave me ticket number 41 — out of 42. I was both relieved and horrified all at once. My efforts to brave the elements would not go to waste. I would take a shiny new Xbox 360 home with me that day. I would take you home, but, truth be told, you weren’t the one I wanted. Sorry again, but I had eyes for another.
You were the basic model. Your disc drive wasn’t shiny, and you didn’t come with a shiny 20 GB hard drive. You were new, but you weren’t shiny. I fixed that before leaving the store. I bought you one of those shiny little hats separately and placed it on your head when we got back to my parents’ house. Then I turned you on, and the next generation of gaming began.
GameCube and PlayStation 2 knew they were in trouble on that day. It wasn’t yet time to break things off with them — that time would come about a year later — but it was the beginning of the end. You — or your premium version, anyways — originally caught my eye because of the promise of the next generation of Xbox Live and your father’s adoption of Rare, one of my favorite developers from a bygone era. That’s why I sat on that cold sidewalk all night.
I sure ended up feeling like a fool when it came to the Rare thing — Perfect Dark Zero turned out to be majorly disappointing. Kameo: Elements of Power was a good game, of course, but it lacked that magic Rare touch of yesteryear, and the developer spent the latter half of the outgoing console cycle fading into almost complete obscurity. But Xbox Live? Oh, now that was something special. Aside from swapping IP addresses with neighborhood kids and playing Warcraft II matches in the early 2000s, I never knew online multiplayer before you. You were my first, and you were spectacular.
Trouble was, you didn’t play nice with Xbox Live at first. But after what was surely dozens of phone calls to Comcast, Microsoft and Linksys, I finally got Xbox Live up and running a few weeks after first pressing your power button. This meant two things: it was time to download Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved acquaint myself with Xbox Live Arcade, and it was time to run back to Best Buy for Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2. Aside from copping a feel here and there at friends’ houses over the years, your best asset had mostly been left untouched by me to that point. What a mistake that had been, but how was an Xbox-less GameCube and PlayStation 2 owner to know?
Despite the unbelievable amount of cheating and the liberal distribution of appalling insults happening in online Halo 2 matches in early 2006, playing the game online was a beautiful experience. Some people looked at us from a distance and didn’t understand it, but we knew that what we had was special, despite the road bumps. And who could forget the brilliance that was Halo: Combat Evolved’s campaign? Chief had me at “Halo,” and only partly because he didn’t say a whole lot else. While a certain former Microsoft executive might think backwards compatibility is “backwards,” the Chief, Xbox 360 and I wholeheartedly disagree.
You know that I learned how to aim and move in first person by playing Perfect Dark and Goldeneye on the N64, but you insisted I learn that crazy newfangled dual analog business. I fought you on it. Oh boy, did I ever fight you on it. I got angry and yelled at you. I called you names, said things I shouldn’t have said, and I’m sorry about that. (I’ve much to apologize for today, it would seem.)
Geometry Wars and the original Xbox’s seminal first-person shooters kept me no more than a few feet from your side for much of the first months of our relationship until you really started to turn heads with The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion’s release. Oblivion’s many charms were reason enough to blow off the guys and spend all day and all night with no one but you for weeks on end. If I wasn’t at work or sleeping, I was probably spending quality time with you during those honeymoon days.
Bethesda’s breathtaking RPG cemented my love for you, and I was dedicated enough to stick by you through three battles with your recurring red ringitis flare-ups. Together, we survived that hardship and went on to have the best of times together. Sure, I flirted some with Wii and PlayStation 3 here and there, but you know that you’ve had my heart for eight long years.
Remember all of the special moments we shared? Finishing the fight? Feeling like a rock star (and not caring that it was constantly costing more money to keep the fantasy fresh)? STaying up all night playing Halo Reach, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Monday Night Combat, Blacklight: Tango Down and many others? Rediscovering the joy of couch co-op with Castle Crashers? Experiencing the indie gaming movement and considerably expanding my gaming scope? Walking through the church in BioShock Infinite and emerging to see Columbia’s wonders for the first time? Landing a position at XBLAFans and talking about you in front of the entire internet?
Uh, sorry — yes, that’s yet another apology — about that last one. Not everything I’ve told the internet about you has been nice, but you know how I feel about you. Don’t mention it to N64 or SNES if you see them around, but you’re my favorite games console of all time. Really, I meant that. You’re the best, but nothing lasts forever.
It’s an ugly cliche, but I’m trading you in for a younger, sexier model. This is hard for me, but I’ve made my decision. This is the way it has to be, and you always knew it would end this way. OK, this is getting so cliched that I’m hating myself for it. Look, things between us lasted longer than any relationship I’ve ever had with a console, and I’ll forever look back fondly on our time together. It’s over, though. We’re over.
You probably don’t’ want to hear about it, but it’s because of that newer model I mentioned. The Xbox One is moving in with me on Friday. We met in Los Angeles in June, and things have turned serious. I wish we could go on together forever, but that’s just not going to happen. It never was. We last longer than anyone thought we would, so maybe we both started to think this was going to be forever. We got comfortable. But that’s not enough for me anymore. I need something fresh and exciting again, and Xbox One is it.
Let’s not dwell any longer than we already have, because it’s only going to make this harder on both of us. Goodbye, Xbox 360. I’ll miss you.
PS: It’s another cliche, but can we still be friends? I mean it. You’re a wonderful console… and I might want to call you up for some late-night Halo 4 at some point.