Wednesday, August 7, 2013

XBone Requires Live Gold for...Pretty Much Everything

In what is no doubt the least surprising thing about the XBone, all those features that were stuck behind the pay-wall of XBox Live Gold are going to be the same way with the new system, as well as the shiny features showed off exclusive to the XBone like the game recording feature, the Twitch integration, NFL Leaderboard integration, Skype and the new and improved match-making.  Some of that isn't a surprise, especially the match-making since you need Live for Multi-player -anyway- so obviously a new shiny thing attached to that is going to be behind the very same pay-wall, but that's kind of semantics.  Basically, this narrows the amount of things you'll be able to do with a Live Silver account down to "Play single-player games, buy games off of XBL and gain regular Achievements" since even the new 'dynamic' Achievements seem to be locked to Gold.  All of which basically means that you may as well tack on $60 to the XBone's already higher price, since it's damn-near mandatory.

Some would argue that Sony's decision to put PS4 multi-player behind a similar pay-wall in Playstation Plus accomplishes much of the same in making it mandatory, but I'd say there is a very, very fundamental difference between the two and their implementation.  From what I've seen, the -only- thing behind with pay-wall is multi-player which means, yes, you can't play online with your friends without it (unless you're playing an MMO like DCUO) but you can still socialize with them regardless.  Party chat, all of the sharing bits, all the social interaction things that aren't specifically tied to playing Killzone:  Shadow Fall MP with your buddy are unrestricted if you choose not to throw down $50 for a year of the service.  Not to mention if you want to enjoy Netflix on your TV and don't want to have to keep going back to your PS3, your Wii U (assuming they ever fix the Wii U's Netflix app) or something else that is presumably letting you watch Netflix without paying more than Netflix's own subscription, you can do that on the PS4.  Same with all of the other programs and applications of a similar nature.

Without throwing what appears to be a console warz-type pitch, there's also the idea of perceived value associated with the services as we've seen them.  Live Gold simply allows you access to all of these things that you're paying for otherwise in Netflix and the like, while also letting you play multi-player in games.  Playstation Plus went an entirely different route with the Instant Game Collection, giving subscribers access to dozens of games over the course of the year simply for subscribing.  Plus was always an additive entry prior to the PS4 and will likely persist in that capacity, where Live Gold has always been the barrier of entry.  They have started a program where you get some free games per month and it's true that the games appear to be 'yours' in that they're not tied with you actually subscribing to Live Gold, but it....comes off as a little too late, not to mention it's a temporary program until the XBone is launched.  Then things look as if they'll return to the status quo.

It just seems like a missed opportunity.  Obviously, you -want- people to subscribe to the service, but you can do that through incentivizing rather than force.  Honestly, even if the PS4 -didn't- require PS+ going forward, I'd still have it because of the IGC, even though that's an extra $50 a year.  It's damn worth it.  When and if I eventually buy a 360 to catch up on a few exclusives, I honestly don't know if I'll get Gold at all and if I do, it will be begrudgingly at best.  I see it as $60 that I don't -need- to spend, nor do I want to.  And you know what?  That argument is always rattled against by people shouting "If you're paying full-price for Live, you're doing it wrong" and to that I say "Fuck you".  I don't need to shop for deals that may or may not exist in the time-span between when I get a 360 and when I need gold, nor do I think it's an effective way of combating the issue.  It's $60 that I don't feel like paying, don't think I -need- to pay, and if that $60 becomes $35 because I stumble across a sale it's not fundamentally different.  I -want- to spend the $50 on Playstation Plus because of what it gives me not what it allows me to do.  That is all the difference there can be.  Live Gold is simply a service that I, nor do many people, feel is worth buying into because of the amount of things that are behind it when it's clear that they don't need to be.

Of course, anyone thinking that anything would come -out- of the pay-wall in the 360-One transition was simply fooling themselves, so this news isn't -really- news.  It's simply an affirmation that Microsoft is happy with the money Live Gold brings in and they don't feel they need to change it up.  Which....good for them.  Clearly they don't since people happily pay for the service and swear by it, but it's just another one of many chances they could've utilized for even the smallest bit of good will, and it's just clear they're not interested.  Still, it does ensure that we'll hear about all these features from the folks who end up picking up the system, since it's out of necessity rather than want, and some of the features are down-right neat sounding.  The Twitch integration for one, and I suppose it is good that they're jumping on Skype, considering it is one thing that legitimizes the Kinect that they're forcing in.  One just has to wonder what else is going to show up and get added to the list of "things you need Live Gold for".

people have been shouting for them to remove the pay-wall from the Netflix thing for ages, they could have at least done -that-

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