When Xbox Live debuted 11 years ago, it made some sense that paying $35-$50 a year for access to the service made sense. All of the competition was on broadband – none of those dial-up laggards – and everyone had a headset, among many other standard features that Microsoft required of Xbox Live developers. Now in a time when only the sturdiest of MMOs can still charge monthly for their gaming service, paying for Xbox Live makes less sense than ever. What can Microsoft do to make it a value again?
Microsoft’s biggest problem? The competition offered their stuff for free. While Microsoft was trying to justify their Gold subscriptions by adding features like Netflix, Facebook and interactive ESPN functionality into the service. In essence, they’re letting the tail wag the dog. Sony eventually released a paid service for cloud saves and free games, but that means so little going into a new generation without any backwards compatibility.
While many questions still exist about what Xbox Live Gold means in the next generation – Sony may even debut a paid service all their own considering how much money Microsoft is making off subscribers – we’ll no doubt see something of this at E3. Perhaps it’ll only make sense to subsidize a console purchase? Hard to say.
Are you fine with paying $60 a year going forward into this eighth generation of consoles? Would you be mad if Sony tried something like it?