Thursday, December 25, 2014

XBox Live Hack, Cloud Services and Nightmare of Christmas

This morning I got fired up the XBox One Console to discover that I wasn't connected to XBox Live. After several attempts to reconnect, I noticed the alert message complaining about a problem with "Core Services". While the XBox One offers some limited functionality when it can't connect to the XBox Live cloud, connectivity is a core part of how many games on the platform work, so when it can't connect, it's not happy. So problems with XBox Live equals problems for the XBone. Not a great Christmas present.

A quick check online revealed stories like this and this about hacks to the XBox and Playstation networks. These types of denial of service attacks are compounded on Christmas as many new systems are fired up for the first time and a wave of actual new users attempt to connect to the system. It's similar to what happened a couple of years ago when Apple's networks suffered under the load of a ton of new iPhone and iPads coming online. Still, you'd think that companies like Microsoft and Sony, as aspiring online media content hubs, would have a more robust, scalable infrastructure in place.

Seriously, it's one thing to have been surprised by a scaling impact a couple of years ago, but if you're building a modern cloud platform now, it's like approaching a yellow light from a couple of blocks back and being 'surprised' by a red light.

But this is also one of the reasons why designing the XBox One to be so fundamentally linked to the cloud seems like a strategic weakness. While it's true that many of the modern games depend upon Xbox Live connectivity in order to provide multi-player support, with the Xbox 360, you can do just about everything else even if you don't have access to a network. Trying to play some of games on the XBone this morning, I've suffered repeated failures -- even without attempting to use any networked component.

Frankly, I'm glad that I'm not depending on this device to be the cornerstone of my media center.

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