I haven’t been with Xbox Live for all that long. I’d say that about two years ago I started to regularly subscribe, although I was very frustrated that I had to pay anything for a service similar to PS3’s, which charges nothing. Still, I was told Xbox Live is better, and I’ve always considered Xbox 360 games the best, so I gave it the benefit of the doubt and forked over my money.
I loved what I got. A great online gaming experience, extensive extra features, free demos, Netflix, anything I could ask for in a gaming system. But the lingering jealousy was still there – the PS3 still gets almost all of these features for the low, low price of $0. And it was easy to put up with until now. Microsoft recently announced that the price of Xbox Live will go up from $50 per year to $60 per year (the monthly charge will go up from $8 to $10 and the 3 month charge will go from $20 to $25). And what is the argument for the price change? Xbox Live keeps getting more features. We’re getting more for our money now, and Microsoft can’t pay for it without increasing prices, and after all, there hasn’t been a price hike in 8 years. All of these reasons are excuses that allow a notoriously selfish corporation to get away with behavior that is just shy of extortion. Here are a few of the main reasons why I am so against this.
1. No matter what services Xbox 360 provides, PS3 still provides almost all of them for FREE.
This is the most glaring, obvious argument there can be for this. Sony has never charged for the ability to play online games, and though the PS3 has been out for a while and more features have been added, they still have chosen to not charge gamers a dime. Some have argued that it’s a bit unreasonably generous to their gamers and they will have to start charging soon, but since this hasn’t happened yet that argument simply has no grounds. PSN is still free, and this shows that you can have a rich online game experience without paying a dime.
2. Many of the new services Microsoft is providing with the price hike either don’t appeal to many gamers, or are free elsewhere.
ESPN, Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, Last.fm, and more are touted as reasons for this price hike. Microsoft claims it’s trying to create a quality service by giving gamers all of these features bundled into their Xbox Live, but how many gamers actually care that much? I personally love being able to stream Netflix through Xbox, but on PS3 you can do that for free, so I don’t see why it should be a feature for Xbox Live Gold members only. Oh yeah, because Microsoft really likes money. As for ESPN, Facebook, Twitter, etc., many gamers simply don’t give half a crap, because we can easily just log into a computer and use all of these features in a free, less cumbersome interface. If I just want to play online games, why do I have to pay for this entire service? Why can’t there be different levels of the service, in which one gives you access to online gaming and another adds all of the extraneous features? Oh, yeah, because Microsoft likes money.
3. Microsoft has horribly cheated its fans with unreliable hardware, and to now find a way to charge them more again is completely detestable.
About two years ago, my Xbox 360 overheated and instead of getting the red ring, it just stopped displaying images and only had sound (the graphics card fried, it seemed). So because of this, my console was not covered under warranty and I, a college student with not much money, would have to pay $100 to have this $400 console fixed, even though its failure was not my fault (I never had long gaming sessions and consistently kept it in a well-ventilated area). And what does Microsoft have to reimburse you for this incredibly unfair repair cost? A free month of Xbox Live, kind of like that service Sony fans are getting for free. Awesome. The failure rate of the consoles have been up around 50%, and this obviously shows that Microsoft rushed its hardware out the door without a second thought to how it would affect gamers. Many gamers had to fork out tons of money for repairs, and then occasionally wait almost a month before the console even got back to them. Microsoft has horribly cheated its fans before, and offered them no consolation other than eventually extending the warranty of consoles that have red-ringed.
I realize that running a service like Xbox Live probably costs a lot of money. But the fact that Microsoft is charging even more and not even letting gamers play online without paying the new price is simply unreasonably bad business. They are slapping their entire fan base in the face, and the worst thing is that they’re going to completely get away with it because Halo fans will want to continue playing Halo, Gears of War fans are going to continue playing Gears of War, and frequent users of other features of the service who don’t have other options will likely suck it up and pay the price anyway. So what will I do? Probably find cheap Xbox Live subscription cards on Amazon or Newegg, and maybe purchase if there’s a promotion that prices the service at a decently reasonable level. But will I ever pay $60 to use Xbox Live? I can assure you that I won’t.