I just finished reading on the front page Dyson's supposed take on Street Fighter II HD
that inherently evolved into a round table discussion focusing instead of Capcom's fighter to online services and their pricing structures or models. What I found most interesting about the piece, aside from it being a frank look into our own editors frugality, was how most of them just didn't want to pony up any money to play multiplayer. Isn't parting with eight bucks a month for Xbox LIVE worth it?? Doesn't it offer you superior online service that you can't get anywhere else with the bells and whistles that you have all come to love?? A centralized model where voice chat is integrated in all games, instant messaging a way of life, and achievements supposedly adding longevity to your games??
Sure, there have been growing pains, as with everything that grows does, but it's still worth paying, am I right? The answer to that may not be as obvious as before. Where in the past Microsoft could easily tout LIVE as being far superior than anything the competition was employing with their gimped out services, *cough-Sony* *cough-Wii*, the amount of features that Microsoft has trumpeted before are slowly but surely being emulated or straight out copied by the competition. With the 2.40 firmware update coming in two days
for Sony's black behemoth, the better footing that LIVE had over PSN will be leveled considerably.
With Sony employing a free online service, albeit not as robust as LIVE's, and adding more and more features to it to make a a legitimate counterpart to it, will Microsoft bite the bullet and drop the price of LIVE or do away with it altogether from the mounting pressure of the ever evolving PSN offering the PS3 is giving it's owners for free? If I was a betting man, which I'm not, the chances of that are slim. And herein Sony could make a stab at Microsoft's strengths that may inevitably become it's Achilles's heel because of it's pricing.
Say what you will about Sony's Qore but if it leaves PSN multiplayer free of charge as it is now indefinite, with in game XMB in tow, I support it fully, as any other lucrative business models Sony has yet to employ..i.e..movie and television downloadables. If this takes place, along with Home around the corner, Microsoft may have to do what Sony's arrogant honchos had to do: take a slice of humble pie and adapt ( I know if LIVE were free I'd be on it like white on rice ).
I'm not even mentioning the real superior alternative to LIVE by way of Steam on the PC. Seriously, how much longer is Microsoft going to charge you for services like multiplay? For the majority of the time it's still peer to peer. Shouldn't this be free already?? Jim had an interesting comment in that piece I mentioned reading, in it he said something to the effect of: Instead of adding to the Gold Memberships, they are taking away from the Silver ones.
They'll have to find better alternatives in my opinion, to justify their asking price. Because to me, the only real reason people are willing to cough up fifty bucks a year for it boils down to one thing.
Playing with your existing friends online.
But what if they just stop renewing their Gold memberships ( as is slowly happening )..what then? What's the next best reason? Again , how much longer is Microsoft willing to charge for Xbox LIVE? I think the better question to ask that would yield some insight on that question is the one that's the title of this blog.