Blog: Multiplayer on Xbox Live should be free. Now.
There is no reason, or incentive, to lock down multiplayer on Xbox Live to Gold subs.
How would you feel if you were rudely jolted before biting into that bar of chocolate you just purchased at full price with a caveat that says to actually enjoy the chocolate, you would have to pay an additional $10 annually to continue having that sugary taste in your mouth?
I know it’s a poor analogy to my topic, but isn’t it exactly what Microsoft is doing with their Xbox Live service?
Multiplayer has, traditionally, always been a free service offered by the developers and publishers as an incentive to buy their game. So why are we forced to pay $50 yearly to just work as an ‘unlock’ to content already on the disc that we payed full price for? Why is Microsoft locking down multiplayer to its Gold Subscription when it does not even offer enough features to warrant even half of that price?
A superb, and relatable parallel to the Xbox Live service is Steam, the popular online distribution service from Valve. Not only does Steam provide free access to Multiplayer, but far surpasses in content pricing, speed and reliability than Xbox Live. Oh, and not mention Valve’s tendency to go bat-shit crazy with regular sales, especially during holidays. Let’s see Microsoft pull that off…and it does not even have full titles!
Now, I would have completely understood if Microsoft charged an amount if it had provided any incentive to support the multiplayer modes in games, such as dedicated server support. But the fact remains that, despite it being over more than 5 years since it’s launch, online games still depends on connection between players. A dedicated server would had proved to be much more reliable in stability and of course, the most important factor: ping.
Coming from a strong background of PC games, I find this preposterous. With no server browser, the match-making being a joke, and the lack of dedicated servers makes me feel Xbox Live is a complete mess. Microsoft had tried to force upon us PC-gamers a similar Xbox Live concept with Games for Windows Live, a concept that failed so miserably that they eventually had to turn it into a free service – a service now developers rarely use anyway.
See, I have no qualms about the exclusive features to Gold subscribers. I think Microsoft has enough number of features and add-ons to warrant at least some of the money it is currently asking. There is Facebook, Twitter, Last.FM, NetFlix, ESPN, Kinect video chat, etc that combined makes for a good premium package. But the trouble is, none of these features are related to the multiplayer modes of the game I am paying the full price for. Not even one. So, why exactly am I being forced to pay a yearly premium to play multiplayer for features any two year old smartphone can do miles better than Xbox Live?
I like Xbox Live. And I like Halo as much as the other dude. But if you are going to ask me an additional $50 over the $60 i just paid to play the game online, yeah I am going to get a little pissed off. And I will be playing mostly three games on Xbox Live anyway, COD, Halo and Gears of War. What else is worth while anyway?