In: Articles by Nicholas "Heartbreak Ridge" Sylvain30 Aug 2010
In the past few years, the price of real gold has trended higher, and today Microsoft announced that their virtual version, aka Xbox Live Gold membership, is
No price increase is going to go over well with the general populace, but I think this is going to go over poorly for a number of reasons.
The core of Xbox Live for gamers is, and always has been, multiplayer gamers. Microsoft has trumpeted the fact that they have “continually added more content and entertainment experiences for our members, while keeping the price the same” since 2002. True, but the additional “content and entertainment experiences” are frosting on the cake, and I don’t think the core Xbox Live multiplayer experience has substantially changed since it first launched. Yes, we are going to get an
The complaints about Microsoft essentially charging for multiplayer gaming have a long history, but they have always run into the truth that the Xbox Live service is, by and large, executed well and has the benefit of being popular — so you end up joining to keep connected with your friends even if you might otherwise have stayed with a free Silver account or played for free on your Playstation 3.
However, now might be a good time for Microsoft to make this kind of move in the wake of Sony’s efforts to milk its PS3 base for some
Furthermore, given that the price increases tend to coincide with areas where Xbox is strongest,
The claim regarding additional “content and entertainment experiences” is true, but I wish it meant more than it does. Including Twitter and Facebook as part of those experiences is good, but that doesn’t mean much when the current versions of those services on the 360 are vastly inferior to what you can use on the web or your mobile devices.
Netflix streaming is indeed a big plus in my book, but if that part of Gold went away tomorrow I’d have decent alternative options to paying Microsoft for it (given how many people have a PC of some sort attached to their home network along with a 360). Putting content previously available to all, like demos, betas, and trailers, behind a Gold wall or letting only Gold members have access to sales doesn’t really count as adding to my Gold experience in my book — it’s simply taking things away from the Silver crowd.
Judging by my Twitter feed in the hour or so since this news broke, reaction from many members of the gaming press and regular users is strongly negative, which doesn’t surprise me. Some comment about inflation is fair, but I have a sneaking suspicion that advances in technology and reductions in the cost of some technology is a counterweight to justifying the increase on inflation alone.
This sort of announcement may have gone over better if Microsoft coupled it with announcing how the
In the meantime, let’s pray for more sub-$40 Xbox Live Gold membership card sales!