So I've had my Xbox 360 for a little over two months now and I've come to a few conclusions regarding Microsoft's newest gaming console and the new Xbox Live service.
The first is that the live arcade service is fantastic. I have played Geometry wars and Bejeweled 2 almost as much as any other games I own. The capability of streaming music from my computer to my 360 so that I can have my own gaming soundtracks is a fantastic feature, espescially when the game's soundtrack is sub-par (Bejeweled 2 comes to mind...).
The second is that Leaderboards and a Gamerscore make the system much more addictive than any other system. I played through Amped 3 almost solely to get the achievements and buffer my gamerscore. Admittedly, the game is unique, and it is the sort of game that I really enjoy, but I think those last few missions were finished so that I could add another 200 points to my Gamerscore. I think that the Gamerscore system is enough to sell even the worst games to enthusiasts who are just interested in the achievements. Additionally, the Leaderboards add infinite value to games. Being able to know how you rank in comparison to other players in the world is very fun and really brings out the competitive side in people.
The third thing, which triggered me to write this article is that the demo system works. The Fight Night 3 demo came out a little while back and I downloaded it because I heard somewhere that it "looks truly next generation". After having a few friends over and playing a few rounds, I realized how much fun this game is for parties. Well, I was at the store and saw the full game on the shelf and just had to buy it because the experience I had with the demo was as convincing a measure as I needed to make me want that product.
I am a little biased as a MS employee, but I truly believe that Microsoft is on to some really good things with the Live service and the innovations for console gaming that they have made with the Xbox 360. Another thing that I just realized about Live. I have never encountered a bug on it that detracted from my experience. Not once. Perhaps this is by design or luck. But I have had an excellent experience with how reliable the service is.