Should Xbox Live be free?
While the competition allows for free online play on their systems, Microsoft continues to charge. While a large percentage of gamers agree that Xbox Live is superior to PlayStation Network, the question becomes how superior it really is.
Microsoft is turning Xbox Live into more of an entertainment machine than a game console, and they are charging people not only for online gameplay, but access to Netflix and Hulu, as well. Aside from video streaming, you also have to pay to access Twitter, Facebook, ESPN and virtually everything else on the service. This can be a problem for people who only want to play games online, or those who only want to use their Xbox as a streaming platform for their digital content, as there is only one package available at $60 a year. If you don’t pay for Xbox Live, you’re instantly locked out of the true “Xbox experience.” Everything that makes the 360 unique is tied to Live, as it transforms a video game console into an entertainment center.
On the other hand, if you own a PS3, you can play online, access all of your streaming services and enjoy everything about the system free of charge. You obviously have to have a Netflix or Hulu account (approximately $8 a month) to be able to use the streaming, but you don’t have to pay more money for the ability to use it. PlayStation Network does give users the option of paying $50 a year for their PS Plus service, but that gives you free games every month and tons of discounts. People are starting to buy PlayStations in order to use the free online structure, which is a trend that will continue moving forward.
PlayStation Network offers the same functionality as Xbox Live for $60 less a year, which is the cost of a new game. Every time you re-up your subscription, think of the new game or multiple older games that you could have owned. Instead, you get access to a service that is free on the competition’s console. The only real benefit to Live is the cross chat feature, which allows users to talk over a separate channel whether you’re in the same game or separate games. This gives you the ability to block out unwanted people and talk only with your real-life friends. The option is yours: you can either own a new game like Call of Duty Black Ops 2, or you can chat with your friends and play your other games online. The choice seems obvious.
Xbox Live needs to be free or have a drastically reduced price. Unfortunately, this won’t happen until people stop paying for the service. The only way to get a reduced price for Live is to “vote with your wallet,” which is the only way Microsoft will listen.