Microsoft will announce their next Xbox console tomorrow and Shacknews will have live updates. All day today, we'll take a look back at the Xbox 360 and discuss what the future holds.
With Xbox 360 now over seven years old, gamers that have subscribed to Live Gold have spent over $400 to access the service. Tomorrow, Microsoft will announce their next-gen console--but will they announce a next-gen Live service to go along with the new hardware? If so, what does Microsoft have to do in order to keep people paying year after year?
Many gamers are quite content with paying for Gold, if only because the service offers more than the competition. Fans like @rezonolicious think the fee is worth it for the "superior online" offered by Live. @passthemstickss points out that Live has private and party chats, and the addition of new media partners on Live allows him to "use it as a cable box," helping him save $15 every month.
However, the voices of the dissatisfied greatly outnumbered those that think the $60 annual fee is "worth it." PlayStation Plus, Sony's competing $50 offering, has people questioning the value of Live. @pzaboori23, for example, admits that Xbox Live has the better online network, but "nothing beats free games." Plus, unlike Live Gold, offers a rotating library of games through its "Instant Game Collection" program.
Others are frustrated by how much of the Xbox experience is walled off for non-Gold members, especially when trying to access services that are free on other platforms. "It was not fun paying to use Netflix on top of paying for Netflix," @rsschuster said. On Xbox, you cannot access many apps, like Hulu Plus and YouTube, without paying for Live Gold.
Ads are another point of contention, especially for Shackers. "The ads piss me off. They should adopt a free with ads, or pay to remove them, model," guitarsandbikes said. "I would definitely feel less inclined to let my gold subscription lapse if the dashboard wasn't a billboard crammed with ads at every turn," boarder2 chimed in.
And while Gold is undoubtedly a great source of revenue for Microsoft, it appears many gamers have been turned away from the Xbox ecosystem because of it. "I stopped paying for gold years ago and just stopped playing my 360 because it is so hamstrung without Gold," Shacker melkore told us. "I switched to PS3 full time for console since I could still use a better version of Netflix and play online without having to pay more per year."
"Gold is one reason I would avoid their next console," thebigbeefsandwich told us. "Charging me to use my own internet for MP games, or my own Netflix sub isn't going to fly again. They were banking on having the market locked down and doing what they wanted before, but I don't see how they can just act like that again with much more competition going on."
So, what can Microsoft do to convince gamers to continue paying for Live in the coming generation? Their tactic seems to be focused on exclusive entertainment content, much like HBO and Netflix currently offer. However, in the short term, they could also drop the price. A surprising number of people told us that they only buy Live when it's on sale. "I always buy the $35/$40 12 month renewals," @mcndahouse said. "I'll never pay $60/year for Gold (and I actually don't know anyone who does)," MikkleThePickle added.
While Live Gold has been a winning strategy for Microsoft in the past two generations, it seems unlikely that Microsoft can pull a hat trick without addressing these concerns. Thankfully, they do always have an ace up their sleeves. It's time to bring back 1 vs 100, @notmarrec reminded us.