/ Technology

Xbox LIVE – should we pay for online gaming?

Xbox 360 logo

Get ready to pay more for multiplayer gaming on your Xbox 360. Microsoft’s Xbox LIVE has been hailed by some as the pinnacle of online console gaming, but should we really have to pay to play online?

You’ve just splurged 200 quid on an Xbox 360 and spent another pretty penny on a bunch of multiplayer games. But when you want to take Halo ODST or Gears of War 2 for a spin online, you’re met with a charge.

You’ve already bought the console, the games, and pay a monthly fee for your broadband, so why should you have to pay a subscription to Microsoft for all of the Xbox 360’s online gubbins?

The issue has been around for years, but yesterday Microsoft announced an Xbox LIVE price hike. From 1 November, a one-month’s subscription to Xbox LIVE Gold will cost £5.99 instead of £4.99 in the UK. Unlike in the US, which will now cost an extra $10 a year, there’ll be no change to the UK’s yearly cost of £39.99.

Is Xbox LIVE still the best?

Xbox LIVE has been around for eight years, debuting on the original Xbox and later expanding onto the 360 in 2005. Most would agree that it revolutionised console gaming for good, putting online services right at the centre and forcing other gaming companies, like Sony and Nintendo, to push their own online offerings.

Sure, Microsoft’s service has long been ahead of the pack, but the gap between its competitors is closing. Sony offers its PlayStation Network to PlayStation 3 gamers for free – and with additions like trophies and cross-game text chat, Microsoft’s justification to charge is becoming very taut.

Of course, people will pay, because what other option do they have? But does it really offer value for money? Should you really have to pay to play a game you’ve already bought?

Shouldn’t online gaming be free?

I don’t really have much issue with paying for premium extras, but coughing up for online gaming itself seems like a cost too far. Especially when the service is still plastered with ads even when you do pay. You don’t get that with your BBC licence.

Sure, Microsoft has server costs to pay (not for the games themselves – most are peer-to-peer) but Sony gets by without charging (its new PlayStation Plus service still offers free online gaming) and PC gamers don’t have to pay either.

Why can’t online gaming be built into the cost of the game itself? Of course, you can buy your subscriptions when they’re on sale – but it’s the principle that counts. It’s a tax on gaming that you almost feel obliged to pay.

It’s also my view that if we didn’t have to pay for the service itself, we’d feel much happier to spend our cash on extras we actually want. At least, I know I would.

Dixon Francois Jr. says:
31 August 2010

I enjoyed reading this and I’ve saved this to my faves. Thanks 🙂

Sign me up! says:
1 September 2010

I would gladly pay $100 per month for xbox live! I mean for only $100 per month I get everything that other consoles give you for free AND x-game chat! You just can’t beat it. Make us pay $200 per month and I promise not only will you keep the customers you have but many more will be banging on your door just to give you their money.

You PS3 owners say you get to frag for free, well, that don’t mean **** to us because we get to pay to frag! That means every frag we get is worth cash money! Can you trade in your K/D ratio for OFFICIAL bragging rights(future feature of xbox Live Platinum +++) on your console? Didn’t think so. So for all of you who say you get everything xbox offers for free except x-game chat you should just buy an xbox right now and pay for online play because we all know that you feel better about yourself as a person when you pay to play!

Remember free things suck! If you don’t have to pay for it, it just isn’t worth ****!

davidsinterested says:
4 February 2011

free things don’t suck….have you used apple tv that sucks. hve you done anthing open source. one of the reasons linux servers are ubiquitous is because it f… free buddy!


Man your wrong Xbox should be £10 a year or free because yes you get sky and love film and facebook and skype but that does not give xbox the right to rip us off we have to pay for a hard drive in the new 360 S when ps3 comes with a hard drive we have to pay for live when psn is just as good and free!!! when you buy something from xbox market it is cheaper to get the same thing from PS market and i think that someone should protest and make a facebook page and twitter page to make xbox live free!!!!! people should stay on silver until xbox lower their prices

Rip off says:
7 January 2012

Free stuff does not suck!!!! its a good thing the only reason PSN is free is because sony get money from selling other stuff where as xbox dont sell other stuff so the have to make their online to be payed for!!!! i agree with PS3’s comment that there should be a Facebook and Twitter page maybe also bebo and any other social network to protest the rip off of xbox live and it should be cheaper or free


I believe ‘Sign me up’ is being sarcastic. But I may be wrong…

XBOX 4 LIFE says:
15 June 2012

I totally agree, we pay for extra, EXCLUSIVE stuff the ps3 dont get, and it’s worth it. If i’m playing mw3 and your playing dead island, oh wait, I guess we cant talk because ps3 doesnt have party chat.

kIllerx23 says:
1 August 2012

Dude you can get platanium in ps3 without paying ok you say what microsoft gives you is $ 79.99 and 7.99 dollars for 1 month and you can chat to your friends while they are playing even another game and you said free things sucks then dont even take free things [edited by moderator]


Are you out of your mind?????? Clearly you don’t pay for everything yourself or you just would not make a completely ridiculous comment. Why should we have to pay for an online service when the console’s cost £300 to buy? Then on top of that your average game costs between £45 – £50. Then on top of that they STILL expect you to pay £5 per month to play your games online. It is getting so bad now that I am wondering how stupid are people to keep paying all this money for essentially nothing.

[This comment has been tweaked for breaking our guidelines. Please don’t type in all caps. Thanks, mods.]

Trent says:
27 July 2017

i get u but heres the thing. i can go online anytime on my phone so why should i pay????!!!!!!!????

Axe99 says:
1 September 2010

The most ironic thing here is that the free console service (PSN) offers a significant number of games with dedicated servers (MAG, Warhawk, Killzone2, SOCOM), whereas the charged service (XBL) is predominantly peer-to-peer. So depending on what you play, you can actually have a better online gaming experience on the free network than on the charged one. I’d have no issues if the XBL charge guaranteed dedicated servers for games, but charging for what is provided for free (and sometimes better) on other platforms (PC, PS3, **** online gaming is free on PSP as well, lol!) is just fleecing customers because they’re locked into the 360 through achievements and their mates being on there.

Ahmad says:
1 September 2010

The online experience is part of the game and I shouldn’t have to pay for it .

Matthew Graybosch says:
1 September 2010

Online multiplayer can **** off and die. Bring back local multiplayer.


It certainly is a shame that some games aren’t putting in local multiplayer, but split-screen is starting to make a comeback. By the way, please calm the language. Thanks.


Comparing Xbox Live to any other console multiplayer experience = Utterly hilarious. I’ve got all 3 consoles and I’m sorry but the multiplayer capabilities of the rest are pathetic. They can’t even get the simple things that MS perfected years ago. Even the simple concept of adding, organizing and communicating with friends on either the PS3 or the Wii is a joke compared to how easy it is on Xbox Live. The fact that Sony is revamping the PSN to include a premium service is evidence that even they know nobody would pay for it. Pretty much the only thing going for the PSN is the fact that you can play multiplayer games for free. I have no interest simply because EVERYONE i know stuck with the 360 because after trying both they realized Live, even at a cost, was still better than anything else. Deal with that fact you whiney *** cheapskates.

It boggles my mind that you can’t even comprehend simple things like bandwidth costs and paying for employee’s to maintain the service 24 / 7, 365 days a week. This article is all kinds of fail. Just another “Boohoo thing’s that provide me with entertainment aren’t free. Herp derp…”