Why I’m Not Renewing My XBox Live Subscription

The thing that impressed me most with the original Xbox was something ridiculously simple; they decided to make a break-away cord (in case you tripped over it), so that your system wouldn’t go crashing to the ground (my original NES broke due to that. Thanks, bro). In addition to that, the controller’s cord was made much longer than other systems at 9 1/2 feet! These days we have wireless controllers, so this isn’t an issue anymore, but the reason it impressed me so much is that it showed that the people in charge of Xbox actually cared about the customers, and delved into what they might want. Nintendo’s Gamecube, on the other hand, had a cord that was about 6 feet; great for Japanese households, but not even close to sufficient for American ones. Well, I no longer feel that Microsoft is looking out for the gamers, so let’s now move on to my current negative feelings towards Microsoft and their Xbox 360.

How would you like your Portal 2?

Gabe Newell from Valve said in an interview with PC Gamer that Xbox Live’s rules for downloadable content were a train wreck, because essentially Microsoft doesn’t want a lot of small updates for games unless it’s to fix something that’s broken; in other words, things need to be sold on Xbox Live, and there shouldn’t be any free updates. PS3 will be getting Portal 2, and according to Newell it will be better than the Xbox 360 version; the PS3 version will have Steam support, which will allow for auto updates, community features, and downloadable content. Team Fortress 2 has had 119 free updates thus far on PC (including updates for all nine classes), but Microsoft was forcing Valve to charge to update the 360 version. Valve decided that if they had to charge for updates, they’d wait until enough content was created. I looked for updates for Team Fortress 2 on Xbox Live, and there aren’t any. Why am I paying for Xbox Live if I can’t even get updates to my games that developers are willingly offering? Games can be updated on PS3 for free, so what’s up with Xbox 360?

I just want to play online!

PS3’s Playstation Network is free, and although they’re considering premium pay-for content, they’ve said that playing games online will remain free. I’ve played Mario Kart Wii online with no lag, and no dropped games. PC gaming via Steam is free as well. Have you ever played Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 on Xbox Live and the game says something like, “searching for a new host”? Well, that’s because as far as I can tell, games being played on Live are actually run/hosted by users’ consoles/internet connections (peer to peer). Battlefield:BC2 by EA is a larger game, and is run by EA’s servers, not Microsoft’s, so why can’t playing online be free? Oh, that’s right, because that’s the service that we gamers really want. Sure there are services like cross-game chat for Xbox Live that cost Microsoft, but why can’t I just choose not to have that feature if that’s the problem? There don’t seem to be any definite details yet, but it seems that premium-paying members of PSN will be allowed to use cross-game voice chat with up to three non-paying members.

Hey, but there’s new services coming to Xbox Live!

Yes folks, there are new services like Facebook, ESPN, Twitter, Last.fm, and Video Kinect on Live. The problem here is that they’re also increasing the price of Xbox Live. What if I don’t want any of those services? I’m typing here on a PC that has free access to all kinds of software and media. It would be great if I could have some advanced option that lets me choose what I want to pay for. What about Netflix? Netflix can be used on Wii and PS3 without some kind of extra subscriber service, but Xbox users must have a Gold membership in order to use it. I am simply dumbfounded by this fact. How is it that people are falling for all of this?

Master Chief wants to play online with you!

So, Xbox Live sounds like it’s taking advantage of consumers. How did that happen?

My thoughts are that the Xbox 360 got a one year jump-start on the competition, and Halo 3 being as popular as it is got people to want to play online despite there being a cost. The PS3 has a lot of the same online-enabled games that Xbox Live does, but it came out at a very high price ($500 or $600 depending on which version). The Wii sold well, and has a larger installed base, but most of Wii’s games aren’t online-focused, so it’s not really a direct competitor to 360 and its online component. So, basically Microsoft had free reign on the multi-player section of gaming and took advantage of gamers.

As of right now, when the next generation of consoles hits, I plan on buying Sony and Nintendo’s systems first, and Microsoft’s system last and years later for the exclusive titles. Based on all of the information listed above, I feel that Microsoft is being a little too greedy and are making gamers pay, because they think they can get away with it. Now that the PS3 is $299, offers free online gaming, is a Blu-ray player, and has a lot of its own great exclusive games, perhaps PS3’s sales will pick up; and hopefully knock some sense into Microsoft. I’m not shunning Microsoft into the great gaming legends that time forgot, but they need to make some changes, or they may find that their Xbox Live subscriber list is rapidly decreasing.

P.S. Your Xbox Live Gold account auto-renews itself if you used a credit card to pay for it.

Valve talking a bit about Xbox 360’s version of Team Fortress and other failed things can be found on PC Gamer here

An interview about Team Fortress 2 can be found on PC Gamer here

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