Premium or Unleaded?

Premium themes. A magical new concept on the Xbox 360 or possible just a way to con us out of more cash but still you have to admit they’re supremely…cool! After years of spending money on the occasional theme here and there and amassing a large stock of regular themes in the process, Microsoft must have made a killing, but then the themes were only a meagre 120 points, equating to less than a pound, so it was impossible to feel bad for buying one (well, unless you happen to be Scrooge himself!). But out with the old and in with the new. When the major overhaul of the Xbox Live look took place Microsoft cunningly gave everyone a couple of premium themes for free, and for many this was just enough to whet our appetites. Then came the major shocker – the price had risen to 250 points! For a mere decoration of your menu system this is ridiculously steep, especially considering there is no option to preview the theme and no refunds, leaving you stumbling in the dark over whether or not to part with your pennies.

They might be pretty but are they worth it?
They might be pretty but are they worth it?

The problem to me is that once you’ve had a premium theme so don’t want to go back! All that wasted cash over the years stings a bit but we’ve moved on to bigger and better things. To me, the best premium theme I’ve currently seen is a freebie! I’m sure many of you have played the amazingly addictive and cute “The Maw” on XBLA, and unusually the reward for completing this game is a free premium theme. As far as I’m aware this is the only XBLA game to do this (If you know of others please let me know) but this is an easy way to make people aware of premium themes, advertise the game and additionally, justify the new higher price of arcade games.

money_pacmanAt the end of the day, the themes are a way of getting us to pay for advertising the games, but at the new price I certainly have to think twice before I dare to hit the download button! Resident Evil gave a free theme to those who spent out on the red Xbox 360 and although this was an extreme example, maybe that’s what we need more of – chances to earn it for free. Special editions of games could easily come with free themes, and XBLA completion providing premium themes give an added sense of value and accomplishment to these generally more casual games. So what is your preference? Do you pay the new price or run screaming? Do you have some cunning plans of your own about how to make these great themes better value? Or, at the end of the day should Microsoft just accept that the premium themes are too expensive? Here’s hoping an answer will appear soon, because personally I will never display a regular theme again!







6 responses to “Premium or Unleaded?”

  1. The Rook avatar
    The Rook

    With the new dashboard, the old themes get cut off as the bottom on the screen now has a plinth for your channels to slide across.

    As most of the screen is filled with the plinth and channels, I find the only screen that really shows of the themes is the Friends channel.

    I currently use The Maw theme, and would like other games to give themes for completing them as well as the achievements, it would be a nice touch.

  2. Pix3l avatar

    I fell into the no preview trap with a few themes so refuse to buy them any more. I did get a really cool Halo3 and GOW2 theme but Mass Effect and Fable 2 were dire.

  3. Mark avatar

    I have the Braid theme. I am a bad person.

  4. MisterStaples avatar

    I have bought a couple of premium themes, then realised I was paying money for jpegs….slapped myself hard across the face and made my own themes with Illustrator & photoshop that look better and best of all are personal.

  5. Dave G avatar
    Dave G

    It is a frustrating one. I love the premium themes too, but begrudge the cost of them so haven’t paid for one yet.

    One point that is a major one for me is that you generally can’t see what they look like before you buy them. I saw a debate on this on the Xbox forums, where Major Nelson became involved and said that he’d fed this back as a suggested development. If you look around there are some sites which are showing pics of some of the better ones…

    Come on Microsoft, bring the price down a bit!

  6. DunK avatar

    I bought the Crash Bandicoot theme because I happened to have the right amount of points to buy a theme.

    So stuck with that ever since, apart from sexy free ones. 😀

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