The Gold Membership for Xbox Live is a joke. A pyramid scheme set up by Microsoft to con gamers out of their money. Sure, they will sell you on the security of the service and that someone has to pay for the servers, but it’s a hustle nonetheless. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at the reasons the service is borderline criminal.
Xbox offers two plans, silver and gold. The problem with this system is the lack of structure with the features for the plans. Silver membership lets you turn the system on, have the system read Xbox game discs, and purchase a title on Xbox live. Gold membership gives you access to EVERYTHING else. Want to watch Netflix? Gold membership. Surf the web? Gold membership. Play online? Gold membership. You are “nickeled and dimed” for every feature on the machine. Why even offer a “silver” membership when you only thing you are allowed to do is play a game. It’s a slap in the face, and questions our intelligence. Microsoft is essentially telling us that $350 dollars gives us basic access to our Xbox. Anything above playing a game or buying a game online will require us to pay a fee. It’s pay-to-play in the worst form.
There are benefits to owning both a Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. The biggest benefit is the first hand experience at what each ecosystem offers for my money. With Playstation, access to the internet is free. Online play is free. Access to Netflix is free. When I purchased a Netflix account I decided to boot up the Xbox first to watch videos. I was then notified that I had to purchase a Gold account to access the Netflix service. I turned off the Xbox, powered up the Playstation 3 and downloaded the Netflix app. One press of the X button and I was on my way to streaming content. It didn’t cost me any money, it’s free for me to access because I own a PS3. It’s hard to say I need to pay to play online when the competition is offering the same service for free. And if I did want to pay for a Playstation Plus account, I am greeted with free access to first-class Playstation games as well as discounts on older PS3 games. It is an additional feature that I feel benefits the current structure of my “free” plan.
Double Dip On Essentials
Over the holiday season I had the chance to play Halo 4. After completing the campaign I wanted to continue experiencing the campaign with Spartan Ops. Of course my plans were stopped because I don’t have a gold membership. But let’s say I did have a gold membership. Not only would I have to pay for the membership but I would have to pay 343 Studios for future access to the Spartan Ops experience. I am now paying for the same thing…twice! We are living in an age where what was once a premium feature is now a standard. Online play was “new” back in day of the Dreamcast, but now it is standard. Developers create games with their own payment plan. They have realized the potential revenue that can be earned in the long tail. It is why you see companies offering episodic content after the release of their game. Xbox knows this and decided that if developers are going to earn extra money from players that they will want a slice of the action as well. It’s one thing to pay once for content, it’s another to pay the developer AND Microsoft for the same content.
As an avid gamer the Xbox Live system is a double edged sword. On the one hand Microsoft has created the place for online gameplay. But the cost to play in their space is more than what you bargain for. I’m sure many people will say that the price is well worth the experience, $60/year. But I wasn’t born yesterday. I shouldn’t have to pay for the essentials. Especially when you create a tiered price structure. It’s a freemium model from the last generation. Charging for the use of apps is unacceptable, especially when I am already paying the developer of the app a monthly fee. You cannot overlook the competition, who’s happy to offer you the essentials for free. 2013 is the beginning of the next generation for home consoles. We are all ready to get our hands on next generation hardware. As you ready your wallets for your next console of choice ,ask yourself this question: Am I willing to pay a premium for what should be free?