Why I still don't own any current gen consoles

ConsolesTo video games afficionados, it may seen odd to find a peer who doesn't own any modern consoles. In fact, I'm honestly frequently asked by peers, "Do you have a 360? Oh, a PS3?" Nope, only PC. "Why?" Normally this query would get a brief brush-off response as I really don't feel like talking someone's ear off about such silly things, but that's what writing is for, no? So here are the reasons why I still do not own a Wii, 360 or PS3 despite liking games enough to write on a website about them.


I suppose we can start at the beginning. My primary interest in games grew during the SNES years, where I had a couple particularly uneventful summers during elementary school, and games fit that void nicely. I previously had an NES along with an old Radio Shack Color Computer, but they weren't used to any large degree. However, with the SNES, I just so happened to borrow some of the best games ever from a friend, namely Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger. With those and classics like Super Metroid and Super Mario World, gaming became a hobby for me. Soon a Game Gear suitably entertained during car rides and other downtimes such as waiting for violin lessons. I eventually received a Saturn with the three-game pack a few Christmases later (actually wanting an N64), and came to appreciate the joyous highs of Sega magic with games like Daytona USA, NiGHTS and Dragon Force. The Saturn would soon be dying, and games were clearanced everywhere. Now with disposable income by means of a entry-level grocery job, this is where I started collecting, often hunting around hole-in-the-wall stores to cheaply bolster my collection. Along the way, I picked up a PlayStation with Final Fantasy VIII and continued my rpg journey. An N64 soon followed, providing a few classic games.


DreamcastThen of course we have the rise and fall of the Dreamcast, still certainly the most exciting, depressing, and interesting period from my gaming history. As the little engine that could, Sega poured all of its last assets and efforts into the console, as this was essentially make-or-break for Sega as we know it. The arcade sector dried up, past mistakes with the SegaCD/32x/Saturn incurred deep losses and they needed the Dreamcast to perform well to have realistic hopes to remain as a company. It was released first in that generation and started well, bolstered by a fantastic 9/9/99 launch. Sales were strong for a while, but never through the roof, as the shadow of the PS2 hung overhead before eventually engulfing the little white box when it was released. To me, this seemed like the beginning of the end, as a big part of the soul dissipated from the industry. I eventually picked up a PS2, Gamecube and Xbox in the first couple years of college but many of their games went unplayed as I merely lost interest. Around this time, I also became more interested in PC games. I always bought occasional titles I saw in bargain bins and got some use out of them, but this increased as I became interested in Final Fantasy XI and later, World of Warcraft. Certainly, the infinite timesinks of these games also inhibited my interest in spending money on other games that I may not enjoy or even play.


In my departure from console gaming, its faults became more and more clear and they just never regained enough pull for me to return, although the industry occasionally put up a fight. Going into this current generation, I told myself that I would buy a system for either a new NiGHTS game or Shenmue 3. The original NiGHTS is likely still my best example of pure fun and magic in all of gaming and Shenmue 2, despite all of its faults, was a directorial and cinematic masterpiece which just begs for a proper conclusion. Well, Shenmue 3 never happened (and likely never will). As for NiGHTS, the creator and main programmer of the game once said "I know a lot of people love it and want us to make a sequel, but for us it's a really important game. Like the way Spielberg likes E.T. so much he won't remake it, I don't want to make another Nights." Well, Spielberg remade E.T. in 2002 and the new-look Sega developed NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams. At this time, I genuinely wanted to keep to my word and purchase a Wii, despite my multiple reservations with the system. However, there was a major problem. The Wii was nowhere to be found. You see, for the first good year/year-and-a-half, no retailers had any Wii stock available. How is it possible that Nintendo was unable to manufacture enough to meet demand a year-and-a-half after release?


Wii ConsoleWell, Nintendo continued to assert that its production capabilities were not able to keep up with the mind-blowing demand. However, it seems much more likely that the press rumors were true, which claimed Nintendo intentionally kept stock low to ensure each unit created was a guaranteed immediate sale, as that looked best for financial reports as well as artificially inflating demand and frenzy in the consumer public. Nintendo has always been a very shrewd company in terms of profits. They generally make money on their consoles while other companies create more advanced systems and take losses to recoup on the software side. They have also been known to strongarm developers in the past and do almost anything to lower their costs at the expensive of others. And as a business strategy, it absolutely works. Even their failures make money. But I got tired of this nonsense, as it only hurts the consumer. After not being able to easily find a Wii well after release, I reneged on my promise.


My issues with the Wii go much further than the stock "difficulties" they had. To start, the system is technically poor in many respects. Nintendo has given up the technical rat race after the Gamecube, so to say, and has instead focused on features/gimmicks that expand ease of use and demographic penetration at the expense of precision and skill. To start, the system seems little more capable than a Gamecube, which was released five years earlier. As well, both only allow up to 480p output via component connection (well, component functionality was removed from later Gamecube versions to cut costs). Subjectively, the visuals and audio of the games may be even worse than the Gamecube, as it is certainly of less focus on average. However, my main detraction about the system is that the wireless control system is just poor for any sort of precise gaming. If you build a game around it and just require waggles or vague movements to accomplish your goals, that's fine. But the system feels very imprecise for more traditional games, almost requiring use of the "classic controller" or Gamecube controller, in which case you wonder why they even bothered at all. There's a reason why no one would seriously play motion Soul Calibur or Virtua Tennis with the Bass Fishing controller.  On the positive, they finally do have an working online system after shunning the idea in the past (ie: claiming no one desired online play while it was already thriving on other systems, likely because it wasn't yet as profitable). However, the system only offers a fairly weak wifi implementation and the online play in general has not received enough attention to really foster any sort of community. In another technical oddity, the Wii by default is unable to play DVDs despite having what is essentially a DVD drive. Nintendo claimed that system is not capable to play DVDs, an interesting assertion proven wrong by homebrew developers who have reenabled such functionality.


Playstation 3 ConsoleMy issues with the other consoles are certainly different, but still quite numerous. To be honest, I hadn't even thought about the PS3 until recently, when it's finally starting to get interesting exclusives. Previously, the games simply haven't been remotely interesting to me. Certainly the console is very powerful and complete with a strong Blu-ray player, but Sony hasn't been able to really take advantage of its strengths or even hold onto all of its features. The system launched at "599 US Dollars," which is a price never seen before for a mainstream console (to my knowledge, correct me if I'm wrong [ed. note: 3DO retailed for $700 at launch in 1993]). In addition, each console lost approximately $250 at launch for Sony, which is quite honestly, a shocking loss and can certainly be constrasted to Nintendo's default profits off the Wii hardware. Primary costs were inflated by the then-new Blu-ray technology, which has since stabilized, but it would appear that current pricecuts are being leveraged by removing features, such as PS2 emulation, SACD playback, the ability to boot other OSs, and reduced USB ports. While the PS3 is still an unquestionably strong home entertainment machine that still receives useful firmware updates, it used to be an even stronger centerpiece in previous iterations.


For me, the 360 has always been the most tempting throughout its lifespan. It's had a well-developed online system the entire time (of which I still had a paid account for some time via Xbox), and is easily the most popular current system among my online playing peers. In fact, before the well-publisized ban waves, I was strongly considering buying one just to mod and play some games online with friends, most of which I would have no interest in otherwise. In the meantime, I would have purchased a few games as well as well as several Xbox Live Arcade titles, so in this sense, they're actually losing my money by taking stronger anti-piracy measures (pirated online multiplayer did seem too good to last however). Also, while the online system is quite full-featured, it now almost feels like almost every part of the 360 is meant to advertise or otherwise misleadingly persuade people to waste their money, and then you really start wondering why you'd be even be paying for the service. 1 vs 100? Yep. Interstitial ads between basic Xbox functionality? Check. Gameroom? Why not. "Xbox points" obviously designed to create a disconnect from real money so people spend more on microtransactions for silly overpriced virtual items? Absolutely.


Xbox 360 ConsoleThe accessories are just as bad. Only designated 360 controllers can be used on the 360. Each 360 controller has a special security chip (that apparently hasn't been cracked as of yet) which shows itself as a 360 controller rather than a regular USB HID device. Thus only licensed developers can create controllers for the system and you'd need to sacrifice a 360 controller just to make any sort of converter to use. Contrasting this to the other systems, things look pretty bad. On the Wii, you need to purchase expensive Remote/Nunchuk sets if you plan on using multiplayer motion controls, but at least you can use Gamecube controllers for most material. The PS3 no longer has the old PlayStation controller compatibility, but it allows almost full USB HID input, meaning most PC controllers and converters should work with the system. The storage situation is also embarassing. At the time of writing, the 360 has two current models, the first being a $200 "arcade" model with only 256 megs of storage. The other is a $300 "elite" bundle, with a 120 gb harddrive, a headset, and two games. Now, from the eyes of an educated consumer, both are really bad. The arcade model has near-unusable storage, meaning you'll almost certainly have to upgrade immediately if you plan to download any content or even just save a lot. And of course, you'll have poor load times as you can't install games to a harddrive along with an inability to play any original Xbox games. The elite bundle isn't much better unless you were going to get the games anyway. The harddrive is worth maybe $20 at most in an open market and equivalent headsets are maybe $5-10. Of course, we aren't given any other significant storage options. The PlayStation 3 allows easy hookup and use of consumer internal or external harddrives. For the 360, you need to either buy the official drives and massively overpay or now, attach external devices via the USB ports. However, the 360 USB partitions are limited to 16 gigs each. So if you attach say, a $70 1tb drive, you'll only have access to 16 gigs since the full functionality would hurt their harddrive sales. Things like this are just extremely discouraging and it feels like they're collectively giving us the middle finger, teasing us with choices when they're all made intentionally poor so our only options is to waste money on them.


Two other major 360 issues for me are system reliability and backwards compatibility. The system reliability issues are well documented, with terrible yields in which huge percentage of released consoles are susceptible to the red rings of death overheating issue, which essentially bricks the system. This and the E74 errors have been widespread since release and only time will tell if they've ever actually fixed, prevented the issue in new models. I'd almost say that it would seem like the issues continue so they can push more units. However, that's likely not the case as they may still be losing money per new console sold, unless they make significant money somewhere through the refurbished systems. But personally, seeing as how I've had issues on my original Xbox (my first system had significant problems) and as I know many people with 360 issues, including one that just died last night, it's that much harder to pull the trigger on a poorly made box of electronics.


The backwards compatibility list for the 360 seems more and more like a launch gimmick rather than something they've actually seen as a feature. As my Xbox has had significant issues in the past, backwards compatibility for that system would be especially important for me. Honestly, my Xbox issues may have played a significant part in my complete tapering of console play. If I wanted an unreliable system that froze constantly, I'd fill my computer with hilarious pop-up viruses. With proper working BC, I could box up my unreliable system, have less things hooked up and sucking power from the wall, and even be free to mod and play with my old system as I wished. However, the BC list is extremely limited and hasn't been updated since 2007, seemingly only created in the first place with then-popular games working and fudging in whatever else they could with minimal effort. The sad thing is, many people in the emulation community would fill out the entire list for free given the chance to work on it. Perhaps this is the most disheartening to me. But as it stands, they have made really no efforts to further the list as XBLA games have taken off in the past years, as working backwards compatibility could possibly infringe on their future sales. As such, many of my most played Xbox games would be unplayable on the 360 and thus it's mostly useless.


Well, I think this is plenty full explanation, so there you have it. This is why I don't own any current gen consoles. Partly because I have more outside interests, partly because I prefer PC, partly because I think the soul of the industry died a bit with Sega, partly because I'm just not as interested in the games they're trying to feed me, and partly because I'm a smarter consumer and can see how they're explicitly trying to rip me off. Call me picky, call me jaded, say what you'd like, I welcome comments or even arguments.


Great Article.

I just love the next gen consoles.

I'm with you, for different reasons.

I also do not own any current-gen systems (if a DS Lite doesn't count). My latest system is a GameCube, and I have many good reasons for not owning a newer one:

1. I have two kids (and one on the way) now, and my play time is limited. As such, I don't feel it a wise expenditure to drop a couple or 3 hundred dollars on something which wouldn't get used very often. Although I would love to own a PS3, it just really wouldn't get enough play time to justify at this point. My first current-gen system will probably be a Wii, simply because there are more game on it that I would be able to play with my wife, and for the Virtual Console and GameCube backwards compatibility.

2. There are lots of games on the GameCube I have yet to play. Some of them I own. Some of them I can find cheaply used, and sometimes even new. I realized that the hardware cycle was a way of keeping consumers buying new things. Why buy a new system when the old one is still fun? The GameCube didn't suddenly get worse just because new systems came out.

3. My bro-in-law loaned me his PS3 which let me play most of the games I wanted to.


This was exactly my mentality for a long time, and to a certain degree, still is. I bought a Wii at launch because well, the Wii is awesome for the very reason you mention. My wife and I never gamed together very much until the Wii, now she buys games herself. But I was quite late to getting a 360 or PS3 for the very same reason. I prided myself on being a few years behind the gaming curve. It kept the hobby affordable and meant I had enormous options. Plus, because I was a few years behind, the hype in games had faded to the point that you really knew what was considered good and what was considered bad. Unfortunately, I got too caught up in it and slowly but surely, I've gotten nearly caught up to "real time". Part of the problem is that I work with a lot of gamers, (I know, thats a problem?) but they are all younger and put HUGE importance on the latest and greatest. It was hard talking to them about games (which I love to do) when I was playing a game they played 3 years prior. Now that I'm caught up, I'm genuinely a bit sad because I've noticed that the games I'm interested in are full price! Arg. I hate full price. I love bargain bins. I love older games. I've often mentioned this to my wife, that I need to stop, right where I am now, freeze time and take a gaming hiatus where I neither buy new games, nor read about any upcoming games, for about 3 years. Then I can spend a few years getting caught up and all my gaming choices will be super cheap. Is this weird? I think it's weird, but I'm darn close to doing it.

Not too weird.

That's what I was doing until a few weeks ago when my bro-in-law loaned me the PS3. I'm still following the industry, I know all the games that are coming out, and I even look forward to them, even though I don't plan on buying them.

It's great to be able to pick up last-gen games for under $20. That way even if I don't give them that much play time, it's still worth it. I've never paid $60 for a game, and I hope I never will.

That being said, the new Wii bundle being touted on Kotaku and others might push me over the edge. Black Wii, comes with Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort and Motion+ for $200. But even if (when) I do, a) Wii games are only $50 ;) and b) there are still a lot of Wii games to catch up on that should be lower priced.

Yeah, if there's one thing I

Yeah, if there's one thing I forgot to mention, it was the benefits of playing on PC, like only needing one centralized console to have and worry about. Also how the games are almost always cheaper than 360/PS3 (with a few exceptions, aka Activision and Modern Warfare 2).

With that said, I can't really say $60 is crazy or unreasonable, but the average game certainly isn't worth that much. But like, how much did we pay for expensive SNES carts? Maybe 70-80, not even counting inflation?

Price Point

Well, back when I was playing on the SNES my parents were buying the games for Christmas or whatnot, so I wasn't paying attention to the price. I might have actually paid $60 for a N64 game, I believe that's what they sold for. I bought one or two of those in my day....

Also, I've noticed a lot more PC games being scaled up to match the console price point. I went to pre-order StarCraft II to get into the beta and noticed it was going to be $60, although that could just be GameStop covering themselves without knowing the actual price.

You're right about Starcraft,

You're right about Starcraft, but then again, that is Activision again :P

Good point

I keep forgetting Activision owns Blizzard now... :(

price point

Yeah, I kind of missed/skipped the SNES generation and only hopped back into gaming (after a girl chasing, life in a rock band hiatus of about 9 years) at the very tail end of the N64 so I missed the really expensive cartridge days. I do remember wanting to buy SMB3 at shopko when I was a freshman in Highschool and have a distinct memory of it being $54.99. right when it came out.


Hey Steve,

First, yes, you sound very jaded.

Second, I loved reading this story. I always like to hear about how others came to where they are, what made them the gamer they are. But this story is so sad! While I actually agree with most of your gripes, it saddens me to think that you've missed out on so many fun games (on all 3 platforms really).

With regard to the 360, there actually are some viable and affordable storage options. I bought a brand new OEM 120GB HDD on Ebay for $50 shipped. Thats not bad. Also, with the latest firmware updates, you can use external USB drives for additional storage which is a huge improvement. And with some reading, you can learn about which SKUs have the lowest failure rate based on the internals. So while I'm still very vocal about the irresponsibility of MS' design decisions, I think the risk can be mitigated to the point where the purchase finally makes sense at $199 or less.

As for the PS3, I don't know what to say about that. I was really disappointed when they removed PS2 backward compatibility because I was really looking forward to unplugging my PS2 finally. I still had a handful of games that I intended to eventually complete but I was waiting for the PS3 price to drop. Little did I know that it would only drop because they would remove features. But, still, it has a lot of features and Blu-Ray (while it sucks for gaming) is a pretty nice bonus.

The only part I would "take issue" with was the Wii availability. As a buyer for a company, I'm often tasked with predicting demand and managing stock quantities. This job is incredibly difficult, particularly when you have demand greater than supply. When this is the case, its almost impossible to know what ACTUAL demand is. The general response to this is to slowly increment your supply until you find where demand is. If you increase your supply too much too fast, and you overshoot demand, you can lose a TON of money. In my case, the problem would be tying up valuable corporate capital with stagnant stock on hand. In Nintendos case, it would be creating additional unnecessary manufacturing capacity which is HUGELY expensive. Basically, if you're running a business and you're trying to figure out where demand is, a smart and conservative company will always handle it the way Nintendo did. I can say with certainty that their decisions were not dictated by an attempt to stoke demand. They did what any responsible company would do in the situation. If you want to blame them for something, blame them for so drastically UNDER estimating initial demand. That is likely what caused the whole thing, because they honestly had no idea the thing would be a hit, let alone wildly popular. This ties into my theory that the Wii was actually just an experiment that proved wildly successful beyond their imagination, which is part and parcel of most of the complaints against the system. Much of what they sell as "blue ocean strategy" is actually (according to my theory) just hedging against failure. Perhaps this would make a good topic for a future article. "Planning for failure: The story of the Wii"

Certainly don't feel sad. My

Certainly don't feel sad. My decisions have led me to saving tons of time and money on games, half of which would likely have gone unplayed anyway. In the end, such decisions come down to motivation and desire. Thus far, I've decided that they aren't worth it to me, so I haven't bought them. This article is more or less just explaining the details behind why.

I touched on the 360 usb drive support and how I believe it's a giant ripoff as it's arbitrarily limited to 16 gigs per device.

As for the Wii, I wouldn't have had a problem if it was just hard to find during say, the initial launch through the holiday season. But fact of the matter is that it continued well past a year, pretty much through the next holiday season. This is what I don't understand, as in my eyes, they'd certainly be able to ramp up production to meet demand by this time given a company of their weight. If you have any more insight or think it's still possible for that long, feel free to correct me. But I'd still tend to believe the rumors as it stands.

Ok Ok, I won't cry for you. :)

"My decisions have led me to saving tons of time and money on games, half of which would likely have gone unplayed anyway."
Very good point. I have LOTS of unplayed games and probably waste too much time and money on my current gen systems. Point to you. :)

"For the 360, you need to either buy the official drives and massively overpay or now, attach external devices via the USB ports. However, the 360 USB partitions are limited to 16 gigs each. So if you attach say, a $70 1tb drive, you'll only have access to 16 gigs since the full functionality would hurt their harddrive sales."

I may not have worded my previous response properly. You DON'T have to buy official drives for the 360. I bought a third party drive on ebay for $50 for a 120GB in enclosure. It's not MS official and it works perfectly. You can also get the 250GB versions for $60 or so.

Second, the USB drive support is designed for thumb drives. Sure, one could argue this is to protect their HDD sales, but honestly, who cares? If you can go buy an arcade system for $199 and throw a USB thumb drive on there to download demos, use netflix, etc, you're up and running on the cheap, using hardware you probably had sitting around anyway. Part of why I think you sound jaded, is because it seems your entire focus seems to be what you CAN'T do with each system, rather than what you CAN. The glass is half full! :)

As for the Nintendo shortages. [WALL OF TEXT]I'm not sure how closely you followed it, but when the Wii first launched, several "inside" sources confirmed that Nintendos manufacturing ramp up was 6 months. This was corroborated by other industry norms. Basically, when you launch a product, you have to design your manufacturing capacity based on anticipated demand. After a couple months of shortages (the first months of shortages are always meaningless on a new product) you can choose to increase that capacity. In Nintendos case, this meant opening up a new assembly line. This also meant increasing orders for parts and components. Basically, the information that came out was that all the increases in orders and assembly meant that in order to see an increase in the channel, it would take about 6 months from the time of the choice. Then, if thats not enough to meet demand, it would basically be another 6 months for an additional ramp up. Looking at sales numbers, thats exactly what we ended up seeing. There were significantly larger weekly sell throughs, like clockwork, every 6 months after launch. Based on this information, I think it's pretty clear that Nintendo was increasing supply at every opportunity, while still being conservative and attempting not to overshoot demand. It's a difficult balance. If you overshoot demand, you lose a ton of money, but if you underestimate, you also risk losing potential sales. Nintendo would have been out of their mind to try to stoke demand as long as they did, and risk the Wii bubble bursting. If the bubble burst, every sale they "stoked" would be a non-sale.[/WALL OF TEXT]

Think about this. For the rumors to be correct, it means Nintendo was utterly psychic and new EXACTLY how to stay just below demand AND that they took astronomical risks by not producing enough consoles INTENTIONALLY. Neither one sounds like the Nintendo I've known for decades. Nintendo doesn't like risks. They are conservative. And they are not particularly well known for being psychic when it comes to the gaming market, at least not for a really long time.

I've found that any time a conspiracy theory requires that lots of people be incredibly intelligent and/or nearly able to see the future, it's probably not a very good theory.

The more sane answer is that Nintendo made conservative judgments about what demand actually was and was simply wrong, combined with a supply chain that was slow to increase production even when it was clearly needed.

Which sounds more like the Nintendo you know? Brilliant, nearly psychic ability to predict the actions of a previously untapped market including the exact demand for a console unlike what anyone had every designed, or conservative, sluggish, and unsure of what people really want? Based on most of your other valid complaints about the Wii, I'd say its clear how you view the company and I think you're right. The question is if this theory fits with the rest of the facts.

But again, I agree with pretty much all your other gripes and even with just a PC, you've still got a ton of great gaming options. :)

How do those harddrives work?

How do those harddrives work? People take specific (ie: 20, 60, 120g) models and throw them in an enclosure and they just work? I've seen people selling bigger harddrives but I assumed it was for jtagged systems only, as those seem to be capable of pretty much everything. I was more looking for something I could either buy and hook up myself if not an affordable official method.

*Actually I just looked it up and it seems exactly like this. Seems a bit complicated and shady and at that point, almost may as well jtag and make a pirate system. Although yes, it is an option, although seemingly a gray area in terms of legality and if it'll work or not.

And my only current thumb drive is an old 2gb, which does its job for easily transferring data and listening to music in the car. If I did have random 16 larger drives lying around, I agree that it would be more viable to me, but at ~$2/gig, didn't seem worthwhile it to buy drives for this purpose. Smaller, cheaper drives would fill quickly and would only require more purchases down the road. I've done the research as I've been genuinely interested but I'm just not happy with the options available and the problems start and end with Microsoft's decisions. Looking at the PS3, it can certainly be done in a manner more fair to the customer. But Sony has no stake in such storage sales....

As far as Wii shortages, I have no choice but to withdraw from that conversation as you know what you're talking about and I have no actual proof to the contrary :P Either way, my frustrations with the actual shortages completely destroyed my interest in the system along with reservations I already had about the system, despite my vow.

And I fear that these comments may get to the point where they take up more space than the article itself, which would be frightening but also pretty hilarious.

This is good.

Ok, quickly with regard to the HDDs, they simply take a Western Digital scorpio and format it specifically for the 360. Then they throw it in a generic OEM enclosure and you're good to go. You just get it, plug it in and voila. Nothing for the end user to do at all. You can save $10 by ordering the drive from Newegg and installing the HDD in the enclosure yourself, but I didn't want the hassle so I just ordered the finished product. There's nothing complicated or shady about it though.

As for the length of the comments, I consider it a compliment to the thought provoking nature of your article. I love topics that get the blood pumping the fingers hopping on the keyboard. This is a subject I think most of us are passionate about (thus our participation in an enthusiast site). So thanks for that.

I just hope the length of the exchange doesn't obscure the fact that I'm really in almost lock step with your assessment of the current generation. The only difference being that your/our complaints weren't enough to dissuade my purchases. I'm not trying to convince you to re-think your position. On the contrary, I absolutely understand it. I'm just more heavily addicted to my pastime, and perhaps thats a problem I should deal with personally. :)

Thanks again for a great article.

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