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access_time September 5, 2011 at 11:46 AM in Culture by Andrew Kent

Should Gamers Pay for XBOX Live?

In short, the answer is no. But, like Ansem the Seeker of Darkness, you may ask “…But why?”. Well, let’s look at what the XBOX gold membership has to offer.

Twitter/Facebook: To use facebook and twitter via your XBOX 360 you must have an XBOX Live Gold membership. 360 users should be asking themselves why they should have to pay for a free service that they can use on an iPod touch, computer, cell phone, android device, or any device that can access the internet. (and an internet connection) This feature should really be integrated into the free membership since, in my opinion, it’s pointless to have to pay for a free service.

Instantly watch movies from Netflix: I can see this being a reasonable thing to pay for, however one still needs to pay Netflix for unlimited streaming along with the Gold Membership. Microsoft, if you’re going to make your users pay for a Gold Membership, make sure that Netflix unlimited streaming is including in that fee.

Personalized Music from Zune and last.fm: This seems like a minor and trivial thing to pay for. You can go to Pandora and get customized channels, again for free. (as long as you’re paying for an internet connect)

Play XBOX 360 games online with friends: This I can see as one of the items that would require some sort of cost to cover the service. However, this feature is free for PSN users. Come on Microsoft.

Live Sports from ESPN on XBOX Live: Really? Do I need to explain this one? Alright I will. Watch sports games on your T.V.!

Now, don’t get me wrong. The XBOX 360 is a great device but the Gold Membership is just not worth it to pay for it, although I just might boil down and buy a membership when I get the money. When Microsoft comes out with a next gen console they really need to think about revamping XBOX Live. If they can actually find a good reason for players to pay for a Gold Membership, then go for it. However, right now there really isn’t any reason Microsoft should be charging for a services you can get basically for free or services you are already paying for.


  • killatia September 5, 2011 at 5:48 PM

    Gamers on Xbox has been paying for gold membership since Xbox live has released back in 2002, and back then it only offered online play. Its only been recently that MS starting to make gold more appealing, with Netflix back in 2008 and Facebook and ESPN in the following years.ene if the service are free else where you can’t blame MS for trying to add value to gold membership.

  • Barnaby Jones September 5, 2011 at 6:00 PM

    ^What he said. Also, I pay for Live because of its structure (can’t think of a better term), features, and security. I’ve used PSN multiple times (my brother has a PS3), and some things are unnecessarily complicated. Other things are just missing, such as group chat (as of the Uncharted 3 beta, that is). Yeah, free would be nice, but $5 a month isn’t all that much. I have no problem paying it.

    That being said, the Facebook and Twitter and NFL and Zune applications are totally unnecessary. I do enjoy the Netflix application, though. It’s much better than the one in my TV.

  • AJ Dellinger September 5, 2011 at 7:05 PM

    Facebook, Twitter, Zune Marketplace, Netflix, Hulu and ESPN are only unnecessary to people who don’t use them. The whole point of all of those features is to make Xbox Live a total media hub.

    ESPN on Xbox Live and Netflix are fantastic examples of what the platform can be. There’s tons of games being broadcast on ESPN on Xbox Live that you can easily switch back and forth between, and the experience is totally customizable to your preferences based on your favorite teams and sports. Netflix is an absolute essential to the platform. $4 a month for XBL, $8 for Netflix streaming, and $8 a month for Hulu Plus and you basically no longer have any need for cable, which will probably cost you more than $50 a month to get everything encompassed on your Xbox.

    Can you go on Facebook and Twitter elsewhere? Yes. Can you access Netflix and Hulu elsewhere? Yes. Can you watch sporting events elsewhere? Yes. But you know what? You pay a premium for a smartphone too and you could just carry a laptop with you and do all the stuff your smartphone does, including making calls in some cases. But you don’t because you’d rather pay the service costs for the convenience.

    • Andrew Kent September 5, 2011 at 7:16 PM

      However with your cellphone analogy. A cellphone is far more portable than a laptop and can access the internet without having to be hooked up to a wifi spot. Yes, 4 dollars a month isn’t all that bad, but you have to pay it all at once. You can’t just pay 4 dollars a month. It’s either a 3 month deal or a 1 year deal. Also, Microsoft shouldn’t hide behind gimmicks for a cause to charge that 3 month or yearly fee. There are services on XBL Gold that should not be XBL Gold exclusive, like facebook, twitter, etc. Also, where are you hearing that XBL has better security? For all I know the hackers just haven’t bothered with XBL yet. Windows computers are hacked all the time.

      • AJ Dellinger September 5, 2011 at 8:22 PM

        $50 up front and not having to pay for the rest of the year is better than $50 every month to not get everything you want access to anyway (the cable example). And yes, I agree, the cellphone is more convenient; that’s the point. It offers something that the alternative doesn’t, which XBL does as well: A big community, a refined format, and certain exclusives that others have yet to offer in the same place that people can play games. That’s the XBL’s equivalent of the cellphone’s internet away from wifi. Is it right to charge for it? I don’t know if arguing morality with a multi-billion dollar corporation has ever gotten anyone anywhere, but until someone offers something better for free, you’ll have to keep paying the premium.

        • Andrew Kent September 5, 2011 at 10:47 PM

          Someone does offer something just as good or better, or so say the PS3 fans anyways, it’s called the Playstation Network. We could argue which one has better security, which one is better in terms of content, but that wouldn’t get us anywhere. I have no knowledge of the PSN except that I know Sony has managed to keep it free whilst Microsoft is charging money for a conduit that does about the same thing as the PSN. Even the PS Plus, that you have to pay for, gives away a lot of free goodies, or so I’m told. I’d say from what I’ve heard PSN and PS Plus trump XBL. But again, all I’ve experienced is the XBL free service. I don’t use twitter, facebook, hulu, online multiplayer, or netflix to even try the services. Even if I did I probably wouldn’t pay 50 dollars a year, I would just go out and buy a PS3. I would recoup the costs for the PS3 after about 5 years, seeing as XBL is 50 dollars a month.

          • WixosTrix September 6, 2011 at 1:52 PM

            It’s been nearly a decade and people haven’t had a problem with paying so far so I don’t see it being an issue in the future. Most people don’t mind paying for something they enjoy.

  • Barnaby Jones September 5, 2011 at 11:40 PM

    First off, I have to laugh at myself for typing NFL instead of ESPN. Whoops.
    Second, I have to apologize for the length of this post. Sorry.

    Ember: Windows computers are hacked, yes. That is totally different than Xbox Live being hacked.
    If you can point out a case where Xbox Live was hacked, then I’d gladly retract my statement.

    AJ: Saying that the ESPN and Zune features were unnecessary was probably a bit biased, as I have very little interest in either and therefore did not bother checking either out. So I’ll give you those two. Also, I don’t have access to Xbox Live at the moment so I can’t revisit the Facebook and Twitter applications (and I haven’t visited them in some time), and thus my following arguments may have various holes in them. Feel free to correct any you see.

    I still stand by my statement that Facebook and Twitter on XBL are unnecessary. First of all, you can use either just as effectively on your computer or smart phone as you can on your Xbox, if not more so – to effectively use either on Xbox, you would need a keyboard. Yeah, I’m sure you could type comments and all through the controller, but (IMO) the inconvenience of that alone would justify my statement.

    Then, you have to take into account the inconvenience of linking your Xbox to your computer if you wanted to use photos or whatever from your computer. It may not be that much of an inconvenience, but when you can do the same things with both Facebook and Twitter on your computer without having to link anything, why bother?

    Plus, neither Facebook nor Twitter required anything more than an internet connection in the first place, so there aren’t any savings to be had here (e.g. cancelling your cable subscription). Hell, smartphones with 3/4G can do these things just about anywhere.

    And finally, there’s the whole portability thing. Xbox(-s or -es?) are not portable. Laptops and smartphones are, and neither require a television.

    To me, there just doesn’t seem to have any advantage to using Facebook or Twitter over Xbox Live as opposed to what’s already out there.

    • AJ Dellinger September 6, 2011 at 12:21 AM

      I won’t argue that the Facebook or Twitter apps are useful, but their purpose is clear: Make the Xbox the hub for everything media. I usually sit with my laptop open while I’m doing anything on the TV; gaming, watching Netflix, ignoring whatever crappy show my friends are watching, etc. I’ve used the Facebook connectivity to pull of pictures/videos that people post on Facebook on a larger screen, so that’s kind of nice. I can’t say I’ve used Twitter on the Xbox since I checked it out the first time, but again the concept is to make the Xbox your platform for everything and we can’t hold its inclusion as a negative just because we’ve no use for it personally.

      I guess none of us really disagree that the apps are kind of useless. Our real point of contention is why they exist or, in Ember’s case, why they are on the pay side. I don’t think anyone is paying for Xbox Live just to use the social media apps. People pay for XBL for the gaming experience and community, which is the big thing that PSN lacks. It’s the same reason more people own the Xbox than the PS3: there’s just better (or more recognizable) titles on it. the 360, by default, has a larger community because it has a larger install base so you’re paying for access to those people and are offered the benefits of access to other things as incentives to stay on XBL longer than just your gaming experience. They charged the same about for just the gaming service for a long time, I can’t really fault them for adding features even if I don’t use it. Then again, I could just be trying to justify my spending $50 every year on the damn thing, hah.

  • Barnaby Jones September 6, 2011 at 12:54 AM

    Well, now it’s $60, but yeah. Other than that, good points.

    And I was having fun with this little debate or discussion or whatever you would like to call it, so.. yeah. Way to go and ruin that. 😛

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