Prey: an insult to Xbox owners? [Update: nope]

Apparently 70-odd-percent of Prey’s sales have been on Xbox 360. Unless I’m very unlucky, that means there will soon be a lot of pissed-off customers.

Games occasionally freeze. I know that. But 26 reboots in an hour? The further into the game you get, the more buggy it becomes – and in the final levels, you’re lucky to get 30 seconds of play before it locks up again. It doesn’t seem to be a particular combination of moves, or enemies, or anything like that; it’s apparently random. It makes me wonder: did the developers actually test the game all the way through, or was it rushed out to hit a deadline?

In a budget game, the bugs would be appalling. In a £50 game, it’s unforgivable.

Update, a bit later…

Hmmm. Might be a hardware problem and not a game problem. I’m looking into it.

Update, later still…

Hmmm, again. Googling leads me to quite a few others who’ve had the same problem as me, and the culprits have been suggested as faulty discs, faulty drives, overheating xboxes or xboxes heading for complete and catastrophic hardware failure. I’m not convinced. If it were a faulty disc then the problem would happen at the same places each time, surely? If it were a drive, then other games would be affected (they aren’t). As for overheating, I played the game for six hours solid the other day without problems, and the temperatures were much, much higher than they were yesterday – when I gave up on Prey after an hour. And as for complete, catastrophic hardware failure… I bloody hope not.

Update, a few days later

Looks like a faulty disc, or a duff pressing at least (the disc surface is immaculate): booted the Xbox from cold, launched the game and went “woah!” as an orchestral score blasted out. First time I’d heard it, and then I remembered the reviews saying Prey had an orchestral score. So there’s something off there. Naturally, the game crashed ten seconds later. Now for the dubious joys of Amazon’s returns policy…

Update, 27 July

Ah, the perils of blogging: the problem has now spread, so while before it was just Prey it’s now affecting all my Xbox games. Microsoft reckons that I’ve got a hardware fault that’s causing the console to overheat, so off to MS it goes. It turns out that Prey wasn’t the culprit, but the messenger.





0 responses to “Prey: an insult to Xbox owners? [Update: nope]”

  1. david

    not heard of anyone having issues.

  2. You should sell an idea to some sitcom writer. Bloke that has no luck with machinery (suicidal coffe machines and the like), but – and here’s the gag – he writes about technology!! Maybe not.

  3. Gary

    It might get as many viewers as this blog has readers!

    Which is more than Love Island, heh.

  4. Dan

    Okay, I have one of the original launch consoles and, except for the occasional freeze while playing hours of Oblivion, haven’t had any trouble until I started playing Prey. Did anyone else have to “update” their console when they first put in the Prey disc? Anyway, after a few levels, the game froze up, so I rebooted and got the dreaded three red flashing lights on the ring of light. Catastrophic hardware failure, says MS. Send it in for repair for $129.00, says MS. Coincidence? I’m wondering. . .

  5. david

    $129 after less than a year? I take it you’re in the states then. In the UK you would be able to complain that failure in such a short timespan means that the kit was not fit for purpose when sold. Free repair.

  6. Gary

    Dan, does the US have an equivalent to the UK’s sale of goods act? It means goods have to be fit for the purpose for which they’re sold, and technically it applies for up to six years (although in practice, things get difficult after a year). I’d have thought a catastrophic hardware failure within 12 months should be fixed for free.

  7. Dan

    I don’t think so. . . the “limited warranty” that comes with the console is very limited indeed – 90 days only. I had a bit of an animated discussion with the MS support person, and even spoke with a “supervisor” (who really knows if that next person has any more authority than the first, though), and didn’t have any luck. This actually makes me think I should have bought the extended warranty from the retailer from whom I bought the console (extra $69 at time of original sale gets replacement in the event of problem, no questions asked, for 2 years).

  8. david

    While playing the Saint’s Row demo, my 360 froze and on reboot the red lights came up. luckily it came back on after leaving it for an hour.

  9. Gary

    I’m afraid I don’t have any advice for you, Dan, ’cause I’m not sure how consumer law works in the US. But not fixing a console with a known manufacturing fault seems ridiculous to me.

  10. Dan

    Thanks for the input. . . I was basically just griping. I love the 360, but MS I can do without. Anyway, I just received the box from MS service for the return and have shipped it off today. They say I’ll get it back in 9-10 business days. I should get outside and enjoy the rest of the summer, and this gives me the excuse to get off of my couch.

  11. I’ve got a PS1.

  12. Gary

    Squander Two, you’re so far into the future you’ve gone back in time! Or something.

    Dan – griping’s good, it’s the reason this blog exists :) Good luck with the repair and enjoy the sunshine. It’s pissing down here.

  13. Tonywolf

    I have encountered the same problem, and as the blogger posted himself. These problems did not occur until the disc update for PREY was installed… My system has yet to give me the red lights of death, but its not turning on properly every time, it randomly freezes on the XBOX 360 logo screen, on the Xbox dashboard, during gameplay, and so on…

    It actually freezed on me when playing PREY before I even started… right on the first loading screen.

    And heres another lil pointer… I have only had my system since July.

  14. Gary

    Do you think we might have a rogue update?

  15. david

    I’ve only got the demo of prey and I got the red ring of death the other day. Couldn’t run the machine for more than 50 seconds. Replaced by PC world.

  16. Tonywolf

    That may just be the case, Ive heard that people whom have Live don’t have problems with thier system or with PREY because they got an auto update.

    Then again, someone posted on a game site message board that he beat the game on normal without any crashes or hangups, but when he attempted to play Cherokee… his game crashed at the same spot every time. Right as the ship rips you from the bar.

    *Sigh* I think that PREY, although in development for a decade, should have been delayed longer to get this system destroying bug out… or never should have been released at all.

    *Shakes head* I also heard that the Demo alone screwed up systems as well, which is the very reason I didn’t get the demo =/

  17. david

    I played the demo on the replacement box and it ran all the way through without issue. Someone else I know managed the full game without problem too.

  18. Tonywolf

    Well… Looks like the bug isnt with the system, which is good… I took off my hard drive and my XBOX runs perfect… but with the hard drive its buggy as hell

  19. Gary

    That’s interesting. I take it the problems recur as soon as you hook the hard disk back up?

  20. Tonywolf

    Yeah… the update is on the hard drive. So I would say so.

    Its still a lil bit buggy without the hard drive, but not near as bad.

    It was also worse when I had the PREY save on my hard drive, but when I erased it, the system wasnt as buggy

    I need to know how to reverse the updat

  21. david

    There is talk in the US at the moment that Dead Rising is doing the same.

    Mind you, in the days of internet messageboards a small number of faults can appear to be millions.

    There is an adaptor to connect the hard disk to a PC and edit the contents.

  22. Gary

    Yeah, it’s hard to tell the difference between a genuine problem and the echo chamber effect.

  23. Tonywolf

    Well Dead Rising isnt an issue on my system.

    Pretty much any time I start up my 360, I have to reboot it multiple times just to get to the dashboard, or even begin playing (While my hard disk is connected… without it, theres no hitch =/ Odd)

    This is any game since I got prey of course.

  24. david


    The only thing I can think of is using the Datel Xsata. ( for review) and selectively remove update files from the drive. Or just copy across the stuff you want and wipe the drive. There will be stuff on the net to show you how to use it. If you could get hold of one on a 14day no quibble return policy, use it for a day and send it back….

    That would be dishonest. ;-)

  25. Tonywolf

    Ahh well… too bad I’m in the states XP

    That sounds like a good idea tho… might wanna try that.

  26. Tonywolf

    Its official… One-hundred Thirty Nine dollars…

    Prey did screw over my system…


    Im sending my 360 off to Microsoft for repairs…

    I never should have touched that damned game…

  27. david

    Complain to Microsoft. Last I heard they were replacing first batch 360’s for free and giving some refunds to people who’ve already shelled out on repairs.

  28. Gary

    Yeah, you’re right:


    Microsoft has “made the decision to comp repairs for consoles manufactured before January 1, [2006] and provide refunds to the small group of customers who have already paid for repairs.” As was the case last year, those wishing to get their consoles repaired or replaced should contact Xbox customer support. However, several calls made by GameSpot to the hardware replacement department at 1-800-4MY-XBOX were greeted by a busy signal.

    Speaking to GameSpot, a Microsoft rep stressed that the offer to fix pre-2006 Xbox 360s for free was just that. It does not apply to any consoles made after January 1, nor does it affect the free 90-day limited manufacturer’s warranty on the console or the one-year paid warranty Microsoft also offers. The news also does not pertain to replacement plans offered by third-party retailers such as Best Buy.

  29. petpiranha

    I bought an xbox 360 2 weeks ago and have noticed that if I turn the console off but leave it plugged in, the console stays hot. It’s only by pulling the plug out of the socket that it cools down completely. Since I’ve started doing this it has also stopped crashing…coincidence?

    Don’t know if it’s relevant but I know Sky boxes have the same problem if you don’t turn them off at the wall regularly.

    btw if anyone wants to meet up on xbox live my gamer tag is: petpiranha

  30. david

    The 360 (and the sky box too) still use a significant amount of power when switched off so it doesn’t surprise me that it is running hot.

    Since I had mine replaced I don’t think that it’s hung on me at all.

    I’m mupwangle on Live but not at the moment cos I’m trying to work out how this bloody mac thing works. ;-D