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Author Topic: When will Microsoft abandon subscription-based multiplayer?  (Read 1455 times)
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« on: August 17, 2006, 04:02:02 PM »

I read an interesting story today at TeamXbox.  They talk about Nintendo's recent announcement that they will offer online multiplayer gaming for free:

Quote
We will offer online-enabled games that the consumers will not have to pay a subscription fee for. They'll be able to enjoy that right out of the box. The Wii console is going to be Wi-Fi enabled, so essentially, you'll be able to plug it in and go. It won't have hidden fees or costs.

The Playstation 3 will also allow free multiplayer gaming which leaves Microsoft.  Their subscription-based Xbox Live Gold runs anywhere from around $35 for a game card at Amazon to $49.99.  I'm guessing once both competing systems are up and running the pressure will be on Microsoft to do away with subscription-based multiplayer gaming.

We had that early on for PC online multiplayer gaming with subscription-based services like (if I remember correctly) Heat.net and TEN but those faded pretty quickly as people realized they didn't have to pay for something as basic as playing online with friends.

So how long until Microsoft abandons the subscription-based model?
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« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2006, 04:24:07 PM »

It really depends on how will Nintendo and Sony implement thier free service.   Live is a awesome service and imo worth the yearly fee I pay.  Now, if Sony and Nintendo offer something like Live! gold for free then I can see it being a big deal.  let's not forget that Live! Silver is free and just can't play MP games
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« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2006, 04:27:45 PM »

I think it's fair to say that "$49.99" is the retail tag for a one year subscription to Live.

The only reason I don't have Live is because I don't agree with the "pay to play" model when you can play for free on PS2 and PC, and soon PS3 and Wii! (WIII!!!)
I'm actually starting to lean towards getting a Wii after hearing this, topped off with the latest rumour of under $200 for release..

Dont get me wrong I love my 360 and think it's a damn great console, but as far as multiplayer goes, unless it's a MMORPG, I just dont agree on paying to play online when you can do it for free on other platforms.

Even so, if the Live subscription keeps growing, I dont see why MS would pull the plug on that when it's bringing them in so much cash.. if people start leaving it and going to the Wii/PS3, then maybe Microsoft will do something.. but it'd take a lot of lost subscribers before them to even consider it IMO.
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« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2006, 04:44:15 PM »

The current Live Gold setup for the 360 is a steal at $50 a year.  For the original X-Box I wasn't so hot on it.  Sony might have to offer it for free to try and steal some thunder.  But I can't imagine why as MS has already shown that people will pay for it as long as the service is good.  But you never know what that whacky Sony is going to do. 

I'm concerened that Sony would want to offload the hosting like EA already demands doing on the X-Box.  It makes for unnecessary bloat and unease.  I'm not happy with EA having my information.  The fact that the info and services were centralized to MS is what made me feel ok about online play in the first place.

For now we'll just have to wait and see until they announce their plans and pricing.
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« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2006, 04:49:33 PM »

Quote from: Jancelot on August 17, 2006, 04:44:15 PM

The current Live Gold setup for the 360 is a steal at $50 a year.  For the original X-Box I wasn't so hot on it.  Sony might have to offer it for free to try and steal some thunder.  But I can't imagine why as MS has already shown that people will pay for it as long as the service is good.

I think what Microsoft has shown is that people will pay for it as long as it's the only option out there.  Once people can play multiplayer in a widespread way on their consoles for free I can't see people being so enthusiastic paying Microsoft for the privilege.
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« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2006, 05:05:59 PM »

Quote from: warning on August 17, 2006, 04:49:33 PM

Quote from: Jancelot on August 17, 2006, 04:44:15 PM

The current Live Gold setup for the 360 is a steal at $50 a year.  For the original X-Box I wasn't so hot on it.  Sony might have to offer it for free to try and steal some thunder.  But I can't imagine why as MS has already shown that people will pay for it as long as the service is good.

I think what Microsoft has shown is that people will pay for it as long as it's the only option out there.  Once people can play multiplayer in a widespread way on their consoles for free I can't see people being so enthusiastic paying Microsoft for the privilege.

Live offers much more than online matchmaking and the ability to play games against other people via online multiplayer, though. 

I don't see Microsoft ever abandoning subscription-based multiplayer because people pay for it.  And will continue paying for it. 
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« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2006, 05:19:16 PM »

Quote from: TheMissingLink on August 17, 2006, 05:05:59 PM

Live offers much more than online matchmaking and the ability to play games against other people via online multiplayer, though.

Much more?

Quote from: Xbox website
With Xbox Live Gold you have all the features of Silver level, and additionally:
  • Play multiplayer games online
  • Video chat
  • Multiplayer online tournaments
  • Participate in Xbox Live online programming, such as Game with Fame, Play and Win, and Prime Time activities.

Aside from the multiplayer gaming, which of these features are you using?
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« Reply #7 on: August 17, 2006, 05:31:28 PM »

Quote from: TheMissingLink on August 17, 2006, 05:05:59 PM

I don't see Microsoft ever abandoning subscription-based multiplayer because people pay for it.  And will continue paying for it.

Which is fine.  And I'm thinking about shelling out the $$ for a Live Gold card myself.  But let's be straight here.  If the Wii and the PS3 include the ability to play online multiplayer games at no extra charge and Microsoft charges around $50 a year then do the math.  If I'm going to have my 360 for the next 4 years until the 720 comes out then that's $50 a year X 4 years = $200 more that I'm going to pay.

Add that to the $400 price of the console and guess what?  I've spent the same money as I would if I'd bought the Playstation 3.
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« Reply #8 on: August 17, 2006, 06:14:48 PM »

The reason I don't mind paying for Live is because of the quality of the service.  In general I get very very good connection speeds and solid performance.  If the performance was only so so then I would not pay for it.
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« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2006, 06:28:28 PM »

If Nintendo stays with the "Friend Code" system that the DS uses, I won 't be using it much even if it is free.  In my opinion Live is well worth the $4.17 per month I pay for it. 
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« Reply #10 on: August 18, 2006, 01:10:17 AM »

Part of the reason that PC games have free online multiplayer is because the gamers (and clans) themselves provide a lot of the servers that the games run on.  That practice doesn't really fly with the consoles when they are trying to have a closed, secure system.

I do think that having a free service could be good for encouraging more casual players to try out online play, but I will wait to see what sort of actual service the other consoles are able to offer before making judgements.  Microsoft has a very good service with the friends services, matchmaking, voice chat (upcoming video) and fast, reliable connections.  If the other consoles can do everything as well as Microsoft for free, then bully for them.  Until that time, I reserve judgement. 

By the way, you can get a 12 month subscription card at Amazon for $36 with free shipping. 
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« Reply #11 on: August 18, 2006, 03:06:10 AM »

See I jut wouldnt be will to pay for online play. Thats the reason why I don't own and Xbox or play World of War craft.

I like my PS2, free games, that are fun. I play Ratchet: Deadlocked online with the same group of people for a Year straight. Not even touching the Offline. And it was all free.

Right now Metal Gear Solid online is fantastic and again its free, theres not much lag or anything, it has cool buddy list features, voice chat and if I really wanted I could create a room called "Match Maker" and meet someone online, which I wouldnt want to do anyways, because they'd probably end up being a 14 year old boy.
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« Reply #12 on: August 18, 2006, 03:50:09 AM »

That seals the deal, I am waiting for the Wii, and skipping the Xbox360..

I hardly see it fair to charge a monthly fee AND charge to download content.. Either/Or but not both!
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« Reply #13 on: August 18, 2006, 06:44:20 AM »

Quote from: Kobra on August 18, 2006, 03:50:09 AM

That seals the deal, I am waiting for the Wii, and skipping the Xbox360..

I hardly see it fair to charge a monthly fee AND charge to download content.. Either/Or but not both!
With the Xbox 360 you can get a silver account which includes the ability to download demos and things like that.  The price for other content is set by the developer.
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« Reply #14 on: August 18, 2006, 09:32:18 AM »

Honestly I don't really even see the point of Silver, other than maybe downloading demos. I'm not about to go out and spend another $100 on the wifi adapter and not even be able to play online.

I had been playing on my ps2, pc, and especially, psp, online, all for free. With the news of the Wii being free, I just can't justify paying $50 a year for something I can do for free.
I know I'm definitely not getting the full xbox 360 experience but at the same time, why pay for something when the competition is giving it away for free?

I do agree on the friends code thing though - I don't particularly care how the DS does online. Only being able to do deathmatch in metroid prime hunters unless you get people's friend codes?
The PSP is different as you can go online, play any game modes, play against anyone, and play for free.
The upcoming 32 player online medal of honor heroes is sounding great.

And I was under the impression we are hosting our own servers on xbox live anyway.. at least when I had live back in the original xbox days - if you were playing a game like Unreal Championship - YOU or another person had to host the game/server. Xbox Live was just tying everything together in a secured environment - and I'll hand them that, it helps cut down a lot of cheating.
When I had Live I was playing a lot of Wolfenstein online and sure, it was fun as hell.. but at the same time, you can play the EXACT game on the PC, get mouse and keyboard, up the player limit by 16, and play without a monthly fee.. so I let my first year of xbox live be my last one.
It's great no doubt about it, but why go pay $3,000 to make a sex tape with Nicky Hilton, when you can just go next door to her sister Paris, and get just about the same experience for FREE?  icon_smile
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« Reply #15 on: August 18, 2006, 10:53:14 AM »

All I can say at this point, is until the Wii and PS3 come out and show us what exactly we are getting for free, it is a moot point for now.
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« Reply #16 on: August 18, 2006, 11:40:50 AM »

Only thing I like about the Microsoft model is the theory that if you screw up or around, they can ban your account and you're out actual money.  This helps to deter people from intentionally being dickheads online.  It's only a theory though because they rarely act on complaints it seems.

Hell, I played a guy named corpseFKR last night.  Glad I don't have kids on LIVE heh

(funny thing was when we asked him how he hasn't lost his username yet, he mentioned he called in to create his account and was just f'n with the guy on the phone.  He spelled it out and the guy said 'so it's corpsefucker?' He went ahead and did it since they had no problem with it.  Odd to me)
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« Reply #17 on: August 18, 2006, 01:40:25 PM »

From what I've read of Microsoft's current use of micropayments for downloadable content, I think they're one step ahead of the game.  It allows Microsoft to sit back and see what Nintendo and Sony have to offer for their online experience.  If either proves to be solid enough to be real competition to XBox Live, then they can easily drop the annual fee and still have a revenue stream in effect.  If neither gives gamers a comparable experience, then Microsoft has a proven system with fees most folks seem to find acceptable.  I think they're pretty much in a win-win situation either way it goes.
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« Reply #18 on: August 18, 2006, 08:47:41 PM »

Quote from: corruptrelic on August 18, 2006, 09:32:18 AM

Honestly I don't really even see the point of Silver

*ahem* Gee, I don't know... downloadable content for single player games? Voice comm with people without being in-game? Wouldn't it suck if you had to PAY to actually GET to the marketplace?

The only thing Gold is good for is matchmaking and multiplayer gaming.

Frankly, I spend most of my time in the silver section of Live nowadays. (granted it's summer and I don't wanna get sucked into clans etc).
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« Reply #19 on: August 18, 2006, 08:50:46 PM »

Quote from: corruptrelic on August 18, 2006, 09:32:18 AM

Honestly I don't really even see the point of Silver, other than maybe downloading demos.

Well that's pretty much the point. smile I'd probably be better off with silver since all i really use Live for is demos and scoreboards.
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« Reply #20 on: August 18, 2006, 11:16:32 PM »

I'm not sure how Sony will be able to sell the PS3 at a loss and also provide a free service with the same features and quality of Xbox Live.  I'll be very impressed if they do.  But I'm not holding my breath. 

Microsoft can justify selling at a loss if they are making money back with Live.  Nintendo's online structure with the DS is awful.  We'll see if they improve it with the Wii.  Microsoft has an enormous head start and Live is nearly flawless on the 360 in my opinion.  We'll see how Sony and Nintendo match up with free services.
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