This past week was the celebration for Xbox Live’s 10 year anniversary. While this is the PlayStation University, congratulations are in store for the service that brought online gaming to the forefront of the console experience first off. Before Xbox Live’s inception on the original Xbox, online interactions were mostly limited to the PC community. PlayStation Network is still much younger than its Microsoft counterpart, but Xbox Live could learn a thing or two from how Sony has been running its online portal. Below are my 10 reasons that Xbox Live is failing 10 years down the road. Note: Unless otherwise stated, my points will be discussing Xbox Live Gold vs. PlayStation Plus.
6) People Don’t Care About the Free Stuff that You Actually Do Give Away
If you’re unclear on what I’m referring to, some education is in store. In a way of celebrating 10 years of Xbox Live, Microsoft decided to manufacture some extremely limited edition consoles to ship out to its most dedicated fans that have been there from the very beginning. Explain to me how this makes sense. If they have been fans since the beginning and are still members, why are you sending them a console they already own? I’m sure those gamers would have been much happier with something like a lifetime Gold membership, or at least a few free years…but that would be more lost money for Micro$oft so we can’t have that!
5) Lack of Automated Updates
In a way to combat the connection inefficiencies, Sony offers automatic game update downloads and patching for your installed software. This is a great feature that cuts down on time spent not playing games. Basically, you set up a time for your PS3 to kick on and check for updates. This isn’t a major plus or minus on either side, but it is a sign of where M$ priorities lie in the issue of making wallets happy vs. making customers happy.
4) Demos vs. Game Trials
You might ask yourself “How are game trials better and/or different than a game demo?” Well class, thanks for asking, there are a few reasons! First, it is the final game itself, not a demo build of the game that is likely unfinished. Second, it lets you see how the game actually starts and whether or not you would enjoy the core game itself. Finally, a demo is a pre-constructed preview of the game that often is too short, and is even more often, not representative of the final product. 1-hour game trials let you play the actual game and see if you like it…for free. Xbox Live only has demos, PS Plus has both.
3) Competitive Value
Xbox has the disadvantage of having developed their service first, they don’t want to change and frankly don’t really need to. The millions of gamers that log onto their 360s and play shooters with friends using their Xbox Live Gold accounts are astounding. However, PlayStation makes a persuasive argument to consider switching. For zero cost, you can play games online with friends, use Hulu Plus and Netflix (if you are a subscriber to those services already) as well as a host of other features. Then, for roughly the same price as Gold, you can get Plus that includes a whole litany of bonuses that Gold members can’t even pretend to not be envious of (free games.) Call me a ‘fanboy’ if you want, but outside of the “established fans” I don’t see why people would be happy with their Gold memberships.
Clearly it costs money to maintain the breadth of content that Microsoft offers with Xbox Live Gold, so they have membership fees. But wait a second – if you look at the dashboard, is this a game console or an ad placement box? I don’t understand the logic behind both placing ads almost everywhere and charging users just to use the service. Compare this to PSN, where you would literally have more trouble finding an ad than not finding an ad. The most recent HUD update has made the ads even more prominent and made it even more difficult to find what you’re looking for on the Dashboard.
1) Free Games
This is hands down the main reason to subscribe to PS Plus if you’re a PS3 owner and is definitely the main reason to be jealous if you aren’t. Would you rather pay extra money to access the things you have already paid money to access, or pay extra money to receive a whole selection of free games? Over the months I have been a PlayStation Plus member I have received the entire PS1 Crash and Spyro trilogies, inFAMOUS 2, Borderlands, Resident Evil 5 and so many more games. Every month there are new offerings – it makes it exciting to see what you’ll get next.