When Microsoft revealed their officially branded, pre-configured USB flash drives that will soon be released to take advantage of the Xbox 360’s soon to be unlocked ability to support additional means of storage (via an update that will be released April 6th) many gamers were in uproar due to the relatively high price of these flash drives. These people were hurling all kinds of complaints at Microsoft, calling the flash drives a rip-off, overpriced and saying that Microsoft “should be ashamed of themselves”.
Now, to an extent, I agree with some of these complaints. Are these flash drives expensive? Yep. Are they overpriced? Most definitely when you consider that third party options are available with just as much storage for half the price or even less depending on where you look. And therein lies the problem I’m having with their arguments. Third party options exist. So, if someone were to ask me, “are they a rip-off?” I would reply, “no, not as far as I’m concerned”.
I’m fine with calling them overpriced because, well, they are and I can’t see why anyone would want to buy them over a third party drive. In my eyes, something can only be a rip-off if no other options are readily available. That is clearly not the case in this scenario. Microsoft’s flash drives are not even on the market yet and flash drives that can be used with the Xbox 360 (it supports up to 16GB per drive) have been available in varying capacities for years now.
I would agree with the detractors if Microsoft somehow made it difficult to properly format a third party flash drive for use on the Xbox 360 but, as has been seen on just about every gaming blog out there, the setup process is as simple as scrolling over to the system settings, clicking “Memory Options” and hitting “configure now”. Three steps which will likely take no more than a few minutes to complete and should save you a great deal of money over going with Microsoft’s pre-configured flash drives.
What is likely the problem here is that people are still upset with Microsoft over the unreasonably high prices they charged for their proprietary Xbox 360 hard drives and memory cards and with those upset feelings, I can sympathize. I agree wholeheartedly that the prices Microsoft was and still is charging for the Xbox 360’s hard drives were obscenely high ($130 for a 120GB hard drive? What?) but fortunately, in this case, you have the option of looking to third parties for your storage needs. Because you have the freedom to choose whatever storage options you like, what problem should you have with Microsoft? If you don’t like their prices then, by all means, buy from someone else.
What Microsoft is doing here is exploiting of consumer ignorance. Now that sounds horrible, sure enough, but, news flash kids, just about every company out there does this. Welcome to the wonderful world of capitalism. Neither Microsoft, nor any other company is at fault for anyone being an uninformed consumer. The reason I don’t have a problem with what Microsoft is doing is because it is not their responsibility to ensure that you are informed when you enter the marketplace. It is your responsibility to do the research necessary to make informed buying decisions. If you do end up making a poor choice as to what to do with your money, then you have no one to blame for yourself for not doing the proper research.
I hope this sheds some light on the subject of Microsoft’s officially branded USB flash drives. As overpriced as they may be, they’re hardly a rip-off.