Xbox Beast Pack 'lacks claws'

Some Australian gamers say the new pack will not allow them to connect to the Xbox Live service

Several gamers who purchased Microsoft's new Xbox "Beast Pack", which was released in Australia yesterday, claim the gaming consoles in the pack will not allow them to connect to the Xbox Live service.

The "Beast Pack" product comes bundled with two months' free access to the Xbox Live service. According to one gamer, John Haig, the new pack will allow customers to register a valid username and password, but the console will not properly authenticate to the 'live' service.

While he praised Microsoft's Xbox support staff for their friendliness and professionalism, he says his efforts to resolve the issue through those channels were exhausted. "Basically I was getting the run around with level-one support," he told ZDNet Australia. "There may be a breakdown in their process where they can't escalate matters like this because they haven't seen [them] pop up before now."

In all, Haig says he spent around 30 hours troubleshooting the problem. He says he tried four different consoles from four different Beast Packs, sourced from two different shops, and ran into the same problem every time. Figuring the issue may have been related to "Beast Pack" specific machines, he rented an older console from a video store. When he entered the username and password he set up using his "Beast Pack" console, he was able to get on to the 'live' network without a hitch.

After he posted a message to the Aussie Xbox Live Crew forums, he received confirmation from at least two other users. "I've had confirmation from other purchasers of the same box who are experiencing the same types of issues," he said.

Microsoft's Xbox marketing manager, Richard Hirst, says the company hasn't figured out exactly what's going on yet. "We've actually tested several of the 'Beast Packs' in the office and there's been no problem," he said. "We haven't been able to replicate the issue so it's a bit of a difficult one."

Hirst claims there have been no other similar calls to the Xbox call centre, but says the company is investigating the matter.