/ 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.

Comments
Guest
Dixon Francois Jr. says:
31 August 2010

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

Guest
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 ****!

Guest
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!

Guest

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

Guest
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

Guest

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

Guest
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.

Guest
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]

Guest

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.]

Guest
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????!!!!!!!????

Guest
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.

Guest
Ahmad says:
1 September 2010

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

Guest
Matthew Graybosch says:
1 September 2010

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

Guest

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.

Guest

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…”

Guest
sarah says:
3 May 2014

hear hear my good fellow . i liked what you had to say it was accurate and funny just had to say well said x

Guest
Wolf26pack says:
1 September 2010

Here is what I see, when I think of “What You’re Really Paying for with XBOX Live” A Cost Comparison

Service XBOX Live Gold $59.99 /yr Playstation Network Wii PC

Online Gaming Gold Membership Required Free Free Free
Netflix Gold Membership + $9.99 = $69.98 /yr $9.99 $9.99 $9.99
Twitter Gold Membership Required Free Free Free
Last FM. Gold Membership Required N/A (Yet) N/A Free
Facebook Gold Membership Required Free Free Free
Cross Game Chat Gold Membership Required N/A (Yet) N/A N/A
Group Party Gold Membership Required N/A (Yet) N/A N/A
Clan Support Gold Membership Required N/A (Yet) N/A Free
Web Browser N/A (Yet) Free Free Free

Now I could go on & on but if we look at the services & some features I listed above we can see that Microsoft is charging an entry fee to access everything & anything that was free somewhere else (i.e.Netflix, Twitter, Facebook & Last FM). When it comes to Online gaming it’s the same thing, Both Playstation 3 & XBOX 360 come with the same online component in each game but Microsoft charges you an extra $59.99 a year to access that component of the game. Basically Microsoft is saying “You have to pay us another $59.99 to access the other 1/2 of the game you already paid for” and I can’t understand why players continue to pay when it is so obvious a rip off. I’ll admit Microsoft has the features (as of now) that make their multi-player experience better.

Now ask yourself does Cross Party Chat, Group Party & Clan Support really justify a $59.99 /yr fee? If yes then continue to pay but if not then the only way Microsoft will understand that is when their wallet feels lighter. Sadly I don’t see many people doing anything about it & will just continue to pay.

Oh and so people know I don’t have a 360 yet but plan to get one, probably the Halo Reach Console Bundle but I won’t ever pay Microsoft a dime to play a part of my game I already paid for & the reason I really oppose this is because I also own a Playstation 3 & I don’t want Sony to adopt the same BAD STANDARDS Microsoft is setting for the industry.

[Edited by moderators: Please refrain from posting any derogatory or offensive language, as we explain in our commenting guidelines]

Guest
Westley says:
23 October 2011

Well said well said. I was waiting for someone to finally say that, it’s sad how we pay for everything on xbox. Like Honestly we already have a Netflix and they want us to pay just to watch movies on their Console….. Ridiculous.

Guest
Chris Draper says:
1 September 2010

A new Playstation3 – £250. A new Xbox 360 – £199. Cost doesnt come into it when the online service is £40.

As someone who went Xbox after owning the PS1 and PS2 (sick of waiting for the PS3 to be released) I have to say I am more than happy to pay the £40 needed for Xbox Live.

There’s not much more that I can add to the above but from having used both consoles (and owning a Wii – the less said about their online service, the better), Xbox Live beats PSN for reliability and service hands down. Someone touched on it earlier, all online gaming on XBL goes through the Microsoft servers (many of them, well maintained), whereas PSN uses servers hosted by the developers of each individual game, meaning less resource and impaired reliabilty.

As Mike says, social aspect of Live also adds another layer, along with the achievements system. I’d keep paying for it even if it was an extra £10 per year.

Guest

That’s not entirely true about the online gaming – as said in the article, most of the servers for online gaming on the Xbox 360 are peer-to-peer. What Microsoft’s servers are used for are things like the friends list, matchmaking rather than the game servers themselves. You’ll also find many dedicated servers on PS3 games.

There’s also very much a social aspect to PSN and it also has a trophy system that many people prefer. And your price quote at the beginning only takes one year into consideration – if you own your Xbox 360 for five years you’ll have to pay £200 (RRP) – the price of another Xbox 360. The question is whether that is value for money.

Guest
davidsinterested says:
4 February 2011

yeah but the ps3 is more state of the art then xbox360

Guest

…. Microsoft doesn’t host shit. The players host games, its peer to peer just like PS3. You’re paying for nothing.

Guest

I’m more than happy with my sub-par free PSN account.

Sure it’s not as reliable as some competitors, but all i need is here, and in the right amounts.

Guest

I think the floodgates have been opened for a long time with Xbox Live pricing. I don’t enjoy paying for the service, but if you own a 360, and want to play online, there’s really no choice. Sony’s move to charging for their Premium PSN service shows that even Microsofts rival agrees there is easy money to be made here.
At this point, I’m quite sure that Microsoft could charge four times what they do now for the service, and still have a dedicated (and more importantly, lucrative) customer base.
This revenue stream is too far along now for the service to ever be made free. However, I’d like to see a ‘pay-to-play’ system in place for casual gamers, who don’t play online that often. Instead of buying a yearly or monthly subscription, why not offer the option of charging these gamers a nominal fee if they want to try the online component of a game for a couple of hours?

Guest
romansboy says:
1 September 2010

You know, I have been reading quite a bit about this issue and I have come to a conclusion- I am a bit upset about this price hike. I have owned 10 Xbox 360’s between myself and my son. Some were repaired but some I had to buy because of RROD. M$ charges for live, then they charge for everything else on live like accessories and such, and they make you buy more M$ points than you actually need to make a purchase instead of just putting a price tag on it (so you don’t realize how much you are spending) and now an extra $10. There are a lot of ppl out there defending M$ and saying it’s just $10. Well it may just be $10 to you, you moron, but do you have any idea at all how much it is to M$. Let’s see $10 times how many millions of subscribers 15-20…do the math stooges…and keep defending M$. The line between LIVE and PSN has just gotten a lot more fine.

Guest
Sign me up! says:
2 September 2010

This is what people don’t understand.

Guest
davidsinterested says:
4 February 2011

yeah i’m switching to ps3… i’m really not happy. i think it’s wrong and if i pay for xbox live it would go against my own conscience

Guest
davidsinterested says:
4 February 2011

basically all my friends are on xbox360, and i like it. so going to ps3, i will loose game play with mates. but subscription bs after buying the game just plain and simple sucks. its actually very insidious of Microsoft to do that, especially considering how much revenue that company makes.

Guest
Shadow says:
21 September 2010

People keep bringing up “how unreliable the PSN is” yet I have never experienced lag or other issues with it (except for schedule server maintenance times). IT’S FREE and it works great! The PS3 and PSN rule!

Guest
Chukkles says:
10 May 2011

I pay for XBL, and i’ll gladly keep paying.
Look were PSN has got you, lockdown and possibly had all your credit info stolen.

Am I right in saying that MS actually employs people to monitor their systems 24/7 so this would be unlikly to happen on there.

Good luck playing anything online guy’s.

Guest
SJ says:
31 May 2011

Do you have to pay to play games online using the PC? No, excluding MMOs which rightly occur a monthly cost because they do host large servers. Counterstrike, UT, Left4Dead, TF2, starcraft.. for decades PC gamers have played games online using privately hosted and public servers hosted and advertised in multiple different ways.

A fee to log in to windows live and use it’s pretty useless features.. fine.. but you should still be able to direct join servers without paying a fee to microsoft. Microsoft should be providing the hardware (ie the console) and the operating system on it. It should be capable of using any number of none proprietory protocols and allow games to connect to servers hosting a game.

Its pathetic and exemplifies why consoles are inferior to gaming on the PC.. proprietory, expensive, rubbish. Paying a console manufacturer for the ability to connect to a 3rd party, or friend’s server? Absurd! Its like paying a monthly fee to netgear because they built your lan port or router.

I would also like to point out: console games and peripherals are significantly more expensive than PC.. ergo; you are paying more to then have to pay monthly to do less than a PC offers with reduced graphics because console hardware is quickly outdated.

Guest
solknightx says:
1 November 2011

im not a big fan of 360 but u b***h ass ps3 owners r really pissing me off, all i ever here from you guys is complaining about 360 users, just f**k off this is xbox users choice

Guest

Thanks for the comment solknightx but please try and stay away from using swear words – check out our commenting guidelines if you’re unsure.

As far as ‘PS3 owners’ – really it’s just the symptom of any fanboy of a particular brand or system, they’re very much the same, whether PlayStation, Xbox or Nintendo.

Guest
xbox live cheap says:
7 January 2012

I think Xbox live should be free or at least a little bit cheap because i just spent £200 on an Xbox 360 S and £90 on a hard drive so in total i have spent £50 more than my brother (who has a PS3) and he also gets Internet for free when Xbox you have to pay and extra £30 a year not just £30 but £30 a year which adds up. We have to pay to have internet access anyway ( £5 a month) so we are basically paying for something we already have and this is just another way for Xbox to squeeze money out of us. If Microsoft want to make money from Internet then why don’t they just make their own broadband.
If Xbox live was like £10 or cheaper a year then you would have a whole load more people getting an Xbox. I have loads of friends that had Gold membership but it has just expired and now they are sticking with silver because they are not prepared to pay anymore money for something they already have!!!!!

Guest

I think when playing online it should be free you should not have to pay online for a game that you purchased I mean you buy the console you buy the game you’ve done your duties as a customer it should only be fair and reasonable to at least be able to have free access to play online and free things are just as good as paid and sometimes even better I think Microsoft does this because they do not have any other console in their video game department and do this to earn more money which would result in them making profits and therefore they would not need another console to out perform their rivals in revenue I think they’re really smart and this idea is sly and ingenious but in the end it all depends on the person whether if he wants to pay of have free access to the online content

Guest
Where is My Mind says:
30 June 2012

Take the ‘Call of Duty’ Modern Warfare series – Has anyone actually bought any of these games Not for online play? I serious doubt it as the game in comparision to the online gaming has little similarity.Technically it’s just the same as buying an online game but having the boot disc in your system then connecting online – I personally am waiting for Wii U and praying they do not go down the route of charging for online stuff – on the Wii they have a good system already in play – and if someone is hacking or scamming the game – (you get people camping on all systems!) just logg out and log back in – join a clan and hunt down the campers.. he he he

Guest
That's It ! says:
3 July 2012

Just take the xbox controller… Worst ever. That’s enough. I dont buy that **** . and pay for online gaming. oh jesus crist.

BUY PS3 – BE A PRO – LOOK FORWARD TO BIG LIVE EVENTS.

i dont get why ppl buy that xbox ****…

Guest
gkill\gamaneli says:
30 July 2012

I been paying for gold for a while now and don’t see what I’m paying for,plus my bro has a ps3 and doesn’t have to pay , hearing these stories about xbox I think I’m going ps3 cause microsoft is ripping people off , what should happen is there should be free with basics and gold with all the other options Good bye xb0x.

Guest
xbox360 cracks says:
22 August 2012

The business name is Xbox 360… John Xbox. ROFL

Guest
random says:
12 November 2012

Yes, I believe to play online should be free. However I think the reason it is not free, is so they can have quality games and quality online gamin. They also put ads where as some of ther money comes from,so gold is just another way for then to get more money in their pokets.

Guest
michael says:
20 November 2012

why should you pay for xbox live when you allready pay for sky netflix lovefilm and your internet porvider its about time we had it for free like ps3 and wii now

Guest
neil goode says:
9 April 2013

why not just go PC. you can buy your games in one of the many steam sales, download the game and then play it online with your friends. it has easy access to all of your games and there are many other features like steam workshop where you can share your own mods or download ones other people have made. maybe you want to chat to someone, you can use skype, or better yet use teamspeak where 32 people can talk with each-other over the internet whilst playing games, completely free. everything xbox live has for £40 a year is free on a PC.

Guest
Tony says:
5 October 2014

If online gaming is going to be compulsory in the near future, I’m going to destroy my 360 soon! Why should I pay a subscription to Microsoft for the privilege of playing their game AFTER I have paid good money buying their newest games? I am a casual gamer as time is limited for me to play, but I used to always buy the latest games, but not any more thanks to your stupid online only policy! And I almost bought an Xbox one lately, phew that would have been a mistake! This is just another con to see how much the corporate monsters can squeeze from us, well as the saying goes ‘ I’ve had enough and I’m not going to take it any more!’ lol. Goodbye Microsoft, it was fun while it lasted.

Guest
david says:
8 January 2017

My argument is the fact they force you to pay yet still allow aimbot and wallhack etc to thrive, reporting does nothing even with evidence so in effect they are not offering you a 100% service for the money

Guest
ALiwa says:
15 January 2017

Thanks that’s great ideas for xbox games but the gaming laptops still the best
http://www.touch4laptop.com/best-gaming-laptops-under-400/