Back in 2002, Microsoft introduced an online multiplayer gaming and digital media delivery system called the Xbox Live. The Xbox Live service is available both as a free and subscription based model, known as Xbox Live Silver and Xbox Live Gold. 

When it was first released on the Xbox, Xbox Live Gold was a literal goldmine for Microsoft. It allowed players from all over the world to play with faraway friends and strangers in the comfort of their living room. While the Gamecube and PlayStation 2 did also manage to bring such connectivity to their systems, Microsoft and their Xbox was the only one which managed to do it successfully. However, players are only able to play online and stream Netflix, Hulu and various other TV shows if they are Xbox Live Gold subscribers.

Over the years, Microsoft invested heavily into the Xbox Live system and designed the Xbox 360 with online connectivity in mind. Microsoft has streamlined the online interface to make it more accessible to a wider audience, with only a few button taps, players are able to view what their friends are playing, chat with them and view their achievements. Over time, the Xbox 360 became the go-to system for online-focused games due to in no small part, the online infrastructure that Microsoft built that was the Xbox Live service. 

Then in 2006, Sony released the PlayStation 3. While it took Sony several years and a few firmware updates for the PlayStation 3 to be on a competitive level to the Xbox 360, the PlayStation 3 online features can now easily trump the Xbox Live.

Compared to the subscription based model of the Xbox Live, PlayStation Network allows PlayStation 3 owners to play online with their friends and stream Netflix and other TV shows for free. And for a monthly payment, PlayStation Plus subscribers get additional features such as free games, discounts on select games through the PlayStation Store and exclusive and priority access to betas and demos. So if PlayStation Network allows PlayStation 3 owners the paid features of the Xbox 360 for free, what makes the Xbox Live Gold worth it?

So why do Microsoft still charge for Xbox Live Gold? It’s because they are making money off of it. A lot of money. But with online gaming and their various features becoming more accessible, charging for such features will only serve to push their subscribers to their competitors who can do it better and for free. Here’s to hoping that Microsoft will do away with their archaic model with the next generation and becoming more consumer-oriented.


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  • bleachorange
    January 8, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    I left Xbox and Live. For the WiiU, because multi-player is always more fun when it’s local.

  • January 9, 2013 at 3:26 am

    Very very few people will buy both consoles on launch, because including games that would be a $1,000+ investment. Average people do not splurge that much, even on gaming, as the gaming lineup won’t be powerful enough to warrant rushing to a new console.

    So PS4 will get a huge boost simply because online play will be free and I can watch netflix and Amazon Prime on the PS4 without paying 50 dollars a year to Microsoft.

    I’m already dead set on getting a PS4 over the new xbox, because a number of issues with microsoft.

  • Taylor Parolini
    January 9, 2013 at 10:36 am

    Is Live Gold worth it? No.

    Microsoft somehow managed to dupe a ton of people to pay for peer to peer online while accepting adverts all over their dashboard. One or the other maybe, but both? Come on.

  • Daniel Flatt
    January 9, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    As far as the console space the answer is: It depends. What do you want from your game console? Are you a gamer with a stronger focus on single player experiences? Then no, probably not. I find myself in this category and so for me the PSN experience works just fine. I can still access all my Netflix, Hulu and such, but without paying extra for doing so.

    Are you a big multiplayer fan that loves playing with friends? Then the answer is absolutely. The Playstation 3 interface (and this is coming from a huge fan of the system) is very disconnected when it comes to a friend list, messages, even browsing trophy lists is far more difficult then it needs to be. You can’t form parties and if you do you can’t cross game chat. Xbox Live Gold brings this all to the table for what is honestly a paltry price.

    Look at it logically and without hyperbole or fanboyism. The subscription is less than 5 dollars a month. If multiplayer is important to you and your a hardcore gamer that is dirt cheap. Seriously you can’t even buy a meal at McDonalds for that much once a month and people see fit to complain? Either way the functionality you get from it is very worth the price simply because the entire experience is cohesive and high quality. The only real competition in the space, Playstation 3, feels utterly messy and disconnected in comparison. Also, and this is just my opinion, I’ve never really even hardly noticed the adverts. The sound on them is only there if you click on it or let your cursor sit on it and the other stuff is just advertising games and shows: stuff I have an interest in typically anyway.

    Like I said, for me personally it’s not worth it because I primarily play single player. If you use your console for a media playing device than it’s not worth it. If you play a lot of multiplayer games or enjoy a more social experience than absolutely Xbox Live Gold is worth every penny.

    • Charles Kheng
      January 10, 2013 at 4:51 am

      That is unless the Playstation 4 doesn’t improve on it’s functionality, then yes, Xbox Live Gold could be worth it. But with online multiplayer gaming becoming more accessible, bringing Xbox Live Gold to the next generation of consoles just doesn’t seem to make sense seeing as how the competition is already so strong.

      • Daniel Flatt
        January 10, 2013 at 6:55 am

        I completely agree with you. Sony would be fools not to improve it’s functionality to match Live in some way, and Sony most times aren’t fools.

        Hopefully it isn’t the other way around though. Sony may look at 360 and say “Hmm these people are willing to pay for this. We will give the same functionality and charge.”

        I suppose it could go either way, but it would be a shrewd and wise move of Sony’s to remain free in all the most important aspects and keep their excellently valued Plus membership. It would give them an instant leg up on the competition through this next cycle if Microsoft stuck to their Gold pricing (with all indications that they will).

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