I actually planned to add this into my previous article on Xbox live but then it reached near 4000 words and I thought this one probably needed to be its own article.
The question is often asked now when PSN offers online play free, and for the same price as live you can get a large amount of games to play and discounts, why do people stay with Xbox live.
Itís actually some clever trickery at work thatís got people to this point, unfortunately the tricks are wearing thin.
Playing on psychology 101.
The Human brain from an early age is already programmed to believe more = better, before we learn the true value, the experiment is to find a much younger sibling and offer then two much lower denomination coins for a higher denomination coin (I have no idea on US currency I really donít if itís less than $1 youíve lost me). If said sibling doesnít understand the value of the coins then will trade them seeing theyíre giving one coin to you for two back.
Xbox live is designed to work on this principal through gamerscore as more gamerscore is better or at least thatís the bit at work there, the amount of places your gamerscore is prominently displayed without you realising shows how well this has been done. So even while you might be conscious of the fact it means nothing the displaying of the figures so often is designed to work on your subconscious.
The problem is the more devs use gamerscore to drag out games and not do anything other than prolong the game artificially with more grind the less people care for them. In recent years with gamerscore modding and easy 1000 score games, gamescore on a value level has seen a big fall even for those who cared for it before. Now itís far more about individual, tough achievements to be able to prove how good you are rather than to have the higher number.
Investment of time.
Xbox live is all too ready to show you your investment of time. From the newly added numbers on gamertags showing how long youíve been a paid subscriber to the gamerscore again. By displaying these things itís a constant reminder of the time invested and for most people they donít want to feel like theyíve wasted their time. Be it enjoying their leisure time by playing games or even writing an article like this. No-one wants to feel like its wasted time and by reminding you both with the gamerscore and the years of membership that you have invested time in this. Itís almost questioning the player saying ďdo you really want to get rid of this and start again from scratch ?Ē Youíll notice this with the amount of people who play progression based games as not only do they reward you for playing but they make you feel youíre getting somewhere. The problem is people are now questioning where they are getting too. I mean sure the road to this point wasnít bad but with the Road ahead not looking great and another service now offering you the chance to go with them on their road, the numbers are failing to work.
Investment of money.
Hereís a big one, sure when you trade something in you expect a lower price than you paid, however until Microsoft decide to abide by EU court ruling stating they have to provide a way to sell digital content on, some content is just lost. Trade in your console or game now and you essentially canít get any money for the DLC, XBLA or XBLIG. Its account locked and as such people are less willing to trade in and lose that money out right. Itís a very good plan and it could in the future, if the no used games sales rumours are true, form another way to lock a consumer further into their console choice as they are unable to trade in the physical games to get any money towards the other console. This is also remembering that consoles arenít cheap anymore, theyíre what twice or more the price of the past generation ?
The Spread of games.
Ok looking at the present generation, so many games are being multi console releases, thereís been less reason to want to move from XBL to PSN. Sony havenít really had those titles that really pull people over. Out of all the games that interest me the only one exclusively on Playstation are Little big Planet and Journey, with the only one offering a major pull being Journey. Now as good as Journey is Iím not about to pay out £200 ($330ish) to play just one game. While it might seem strange and sure Microsoft hasnít got the exclusives as much now. They donít need them, they managed to draw people in initially and rely on the other methods to retain customers.
Being there first
While the PS3 might have been the more powerful console, by getting there first Microsoft could essentially say down the line ďWhy play PS3 when so many people are already here ?Ē It worked too and people did flock to it and its only been closer to the end of the console generation that PS3 has picked up hugely.
It seems a weird situation to look at from the outside looking in I must admit. I mean personally I bought my Xbox 360 early on in the console cycle and as such I have the library of games, DLC and digital games. I couldnít have predicted what the 360 would turn into down the line. At the time I went with the console that had turned out best last generation and was happy with it. Now however to see the really user unfriendly dashboard filled with adverts (It is less user friendly than a My stuff tab essentially) and the lack of exclusives, even with Microsoft shutting down the XNA development service soon, along with having shut down their own show productions like inside Xbox. The console I have now is far from the console I started with. So for me at least sure, Iíve thought about moving to PS3 but I still donít have a big enough reason considering whatís holding me back in the form of digital content. However people are going to leave soon as with the next generation of console coming it will mean people canít stay anymore so Microsoft will have to either try a whole new load of tricks or it might actually have to work and make something consumers want and dare I say, compete with Sony again.