Recent reports are listing the Xbox Live Gold account currently priced at $50, will increase 100%. If speculation is correct and the price tag for an annual subscription will be $100, What extra benefits will be made available to Xbox Live Gold accounts? With the PlayStation Network offering a free service, why would anyone pay that amount? Let the debate begin…
The Xbox 360 will soon be getting a new Face-lift, by way of a Fall update. Within that update gamers will able to use their Xbox Live accounts to communicate through Twitter and Facebook respectively. Last.fm will also be bundled in. But do these services demand a price hike? Many believe Xbox Live offers a better online experience over the PSN. How so? Easier to invite friends into game sessions. Cross-game chat. And an easier to view lists of news, updates and games. The recently announced 1080p stream has some people questioning a Blu-ray player. But many have noticed the fluctuation on “What’s New” advertising. The result — paying for ad-filled services. Worth the price?
The PlayStation Network offers many of the options XBL can. Chatting with friends within a game is currently possible. It was announced that the cross-game chat function would be available through a future firmware update. Sure, HOME isn’t what it’s meant to be but developers have been working hard and as of late we’ve seen more games getting their own place in the HOME World. Ads are minimized but exist, especially in HOME. Online browsing is also possible. Movie streams are offered in 1080p. For the amount of content and services listed, the PSN price of Free outweighs XBL of $50 and even more at $100.
Console Price Drops
Sony made a huge announcement when they dropped the price of their PS3 to $299 back in August 2009. Raising the bar of competitive prices for consumers. The PS3 saw a sharp increase in sales and the amount of PSN user’s have increased. A move that Sony, a major force in Marketing, will benefit from advertising revenues. Sony will continue to push other services to developers in order to keep the “upfront” cost down to us, the buyer. We’ve all seen in-game advertising and expect to continue seeing them.
Microsoft “unbeknownst” to them had planned a price drop of the 360 before Sony’s PS3. Whether we it’s true may be fact but for now it’s unknown. What is known is Microsoft reduced the price of the Xbox 360 to $249, a price drop of $50. To stay competitive with console sales, Microsoft’s latest move will come out of another budget. The existing gamer. The price drop is attrative “upfront” but the final price including the $100 Xbox Live Gold account counteracts that.
But just how much of that revenue comes from Gold subscriptions? Let’s look at 2008: Microsoft said in January that it had 17 million Xbox Live subscribers. Recently, information has come out that a little over half of those users (something around 60%) have gold subscriptions. That gives us roughly 9.5 gold subscribers for 2008. Multiply that by the $50 each of them pay to keep their Gold subscriptions and you get a grand total of $475 million.
We’re in a world where people will pay for what they want. This brings me back to the Blu-ray vs HD-DVD battle where I mentioned people will pay for quality nowadays. Sony may have messed up with Betamax, but at that time cost was a bigger factor. So it’s ironic that Sony is the lesser of pricing evil. With all that the PSN has to offer; movie library, PSP digital games, video streaming, (upcoming) in-game chat, PS Home and the ability to download PSN titles on other consoles to share, the Xbox 360 better shape up. Lastly, wouldn’t you rather purchase an item for $9.99 than 1200 Microsoft points? If it’s Free, it’s for me!