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Xbox Live Gold: is it still worth it?

After hundreds of dollars spent on Xbox Live, is it still worth it? What does Microsoft have to do in order to keep people paying year after year?

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Microsoft will announce their next Xbox console tomorrow and Shacknews will have live updates. All day today, we'll take a look back at the Xbox 360 and discuss what the future holds.
With Xbox 360 now over seven years old, gamers that have subscribed to Live Gold have spent over $400 to access the service. Tomorrow, Microsoft will announce their next-gen console--but will they announce a next-gen Live service to go along with the new hardware? If so, what does Microsoft have to do in order to keep people paying year after year? Many gamers are quite content with paying for Gold, if only because the service offers more than the competition. Fans like @rezonolicious think the fee is worth it for the "superior online" offered by Live. @passthemstickss points out that Live has private and party chats, and the addition of new media partners on Live allows him to "use it as a cable box," helping him save $15 every month. However, the voices of the dissatisfied greatly outnumbered those that think the $60 annual fee is "worth it." PlayStation Plus, Sony's competing $50 offering, has people questioning the value of Live. @pzaboori23, for example, admits that Xbox Live has the better online network, but "nothing beats free games." Plus, unlike Live Gold, offers a rotating library of games through its "Instant Game Collection" program. Others are frustrated by how much of the Xbox experience is walled off for non-Gold members, especially when trying to access services that are free on other platforms. "It was not fun paying to use Netflix on top of paying for Netflix," @rsschuster said. On Xbox, you cannot access many apps, like Hulu Plus and YouTube, without paying for Live Gold. Ads are another point of contention, especially for Shackers. "The ads piss me off. They should adopt a free with ads, or pay to remove them, model," guitarsandbikes said. "I would definitely feel less inclined to let my gold subscription lapse if the dashboard wasn't a billboard crammed with ads at every turn," boarder2 chimed in. And while Gold is undoubtedly a great source of revenue for Microsoft, it appears many gamers have been turned away from the Xbox ecosystem because of it. "I stopped paying for gold years ago and just stopped playing my 360 because it is so hamstrung without Gold," Shacker melkore told us. "I switched to PS3 full time for console since I could still use a better version of Netflix and play online without having to pay more per year." "Gold is one reason I would avoid their next console," thebigbeefsandwich told us. "Charging me to use my own internet for MP games, or my own Netflix sub isn't going to fly again. They were banking on having the market locked down and doing what they wanted before, but I don't see how they can just act like that again with much more competition going on." So, what can Microsoft do to convince gamers to continue paying for Live in the coming generation? Their tactic seems to be focused on exclusive entertainment content, much like HBO and Netflix currently offer. However, in the short term, they could also drop the price. A surprising number of people told us that they only buy Live when it's on sale. "I always buy the $35/$40 12 month renewals," @mcndahouse said. "I'll never pay $60/year for Gold (and I actually don't know anyone who does)," MikkleThePickle added. While Live Gold has been a winning strategy for Microsoft in the past two generations, it seems unlikely that Microsoft can pull a hat trick without addressing these concerns. Thankfully, they do always have an ace up their sleeves. It's time to bring back 1 vs 100, @notmarrec reminded us.

Unique experiences like 1 vs 100 can make Gold stand out

Andrew Yoon was previously a games journalist creating content at Shacknews.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    May 20, 2013 9:00 AM

    Andrew Yoon posted a new article, Xbox Live Gold: is it still worth it?.

    After hundreds of dollars spent on Xbox Live, is it still worth it? What does Microsoft have to do in order to keep people paying year after year?

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      May 20, 2013 9:09 AM

      I don't think it's still worth it, but at the same time, not having leaderboards on my games breaks my heart.

      Also 1 vs. 100 graphic means thumbs up for article.

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        May 20, 2013 9:23 AM

        I love the hell out of leaderboards!

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        May 20, 2013 10:05 AM

        Leaderboards works with silver I thought.

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          May 20, 2013 10:31 AM

          It does, yeah.

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            May 20, 2013 10:35 AM

            Do Rock Band LBs? I thought those disappeared when I went to Silver.

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              May 20, 2013 10:53 AM

              Never played Rock Band, but that'd be the only game I ever heard of that required Gold for leaderboards. Usually Gold is entirely reserved for online multiplayer.

              I think stuff like Autolog and other asynchronous multiplayer in Need for Speed and SSX works without Gold.

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        May 20, 2013 10:29 AM

        [deleted]

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        May 20, 2013 10:38 AM

        I really miss 1 vs 100.

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      May 20, 2013 9:09 AM

      Personally I see PSN, XBL and Steam as competing services. I was surprised to see no mention of Steam at all. For me it offers much more and for free than either competitor.

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        May 20, 2013 9:15 AM

        Really? I'd never thought of them as competing services. PSN and XBL are your only choice when it comes to interacting with people or services outside the physical box of your console. Steam, while the best and largest service for purchasing games online, is but one in a sea of many, many ways to purchase goods and services for your PC.

        I don't see them as being analogous at all.

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          May 20, 2013 10:07 AM

          It doesn't have to be analogous to be a competitor. I look at Steam as my preferred service over XBL and PSN for the same functions.

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          May 20, 2013 10:31 AM

          They are the three major social hubs for gaming on their respective platforms. When compairing pricing and services I certainly compare them to eachother.

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      May 20, 2013 9:11 AM

      I hope they change Gold into something like PSO+, otherwise I think I'm done with it pretty soon.

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      May 20, 2013 9:12 AM

      in a word, no.

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      May 20, 2013 9:12 AM

      I renew live every year but honestly, I'm not sure why

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        May 20, 2013 9:27 AM

        Me too. MS counts on morons like us.

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        May 20, 2013 11:31 AM

        same. short of NetFlix (which i also barely use) i think i've logged into XBLive to play MP once since i renewed in february.

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          May 20, 2013 1:02 PM

          This is the exact same for me. Probably for the past 2 years.

          XBOX live, the online equivalent of a gym membership.

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        May 20, 2013 11:32 AM

        This was the year I didn't.

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        May 20, 2013 1:48 PM

        Oh, I guess I played a lot of call of duty so that's a good reason

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      May 20, 2013 9:23 AM

      I stopped using XBL about two or three years ago. There's nothing exclusive to the 360 I want to play online.

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      May 20, 2013 9:24 AM

      Only because of Kinect voice commands for Netflix. And it's mrsgeedeck that pays for the sub since she uses the voice commands... I'd just use our PS3 instead

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      May 20, 2013 9:30 AM

      [deleted]

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      May 20, 2013 9:33 AM

      I heard they were going to totally revamp the entire xbox live operating system, and marketplace for the new xbox.. whether its free, I highly doubt it..

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      May 20, 2013 9:34 AM

      I subscribe to Xbox live every year, because I have to. To play games online (which is mostly what I do) you have no choice. Still, I'm usually content with the service and games that come to Xbox, and I don't see myself forking out money to buy a PC anytime soon.

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      May 20, 2013 9:37 AM

      [deleted]

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      May 20, 2013 9:42 AM

      Mine runs out this month and I'm not resubbing. It's the first time since XBL launched in 2002, and the only thing I might actually miss is Kinect voice commands for my video streaming apps.

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      May 20, 2013 9:58 AM

      I did not renew at Christmas this year. Suddenly my XBox was a gaming system again and not some pimped up "gold" access to marginally discounted random content and a plethora on non gaming related ads. I'm a Seattle-ite and want to support the new Xbox - I have friends who work at the MS Games - but I will go with Sony for the next-gen if this Gold requirement is part of the new Xbox.

      One more thing - I should be able to access Netfix, Netscape, and any other "app" as well, including Amazon prime....

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      May 20, 2013 10:13 AM

      I had the original XBox for Splinter Cell and Mechwarrior, so I paid for Live for a couple of years. Maybe it's because I mostly pub in MP games, but Live stopped having value to me once you could get online play out of Sony/Nintendo machines (and Steam, of course).

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      May 20, 2013 10:26 AM

      Cancelled Live Gold a long time ago.

      I don't play games online with my Xbox and without the Gold subscription it's a doorstop since it can't do anything else. Why should I pay just to have access to video streaming apps when the PS can do that for free? Also, I already save money without a cable box because I don't have TV service.

      If I were Sony, I'd be flaunting how the PS does things for free that the Xbox does not.

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      May 20, 2013 10:29 AM

      [deleted]

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      May 20, 2013 10:32 AM

      I think they got to make multiplayer gaming free, its becoming a staple of gaming that a gamer shouldn't really have to pay to play a few deathmatch games online

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        May 20, 2013 12:45 PM

        MP gaming is free...for just about every other platform there is. It has always been free on PC, long before the Xbox ever came out.

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        May 21, 2013 2:57 AM

        Multiplayer IS free. Just not on the XBox.

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      May 20, 2013 10:38 AM

      Unfortunately I am paid up till August of 2014. I would have cancelled last year when I got that Xbox Usage email which stated I had turned the Xbox on for a grand total of like 20 minutes (I think i was just futzing with Smart Glass) in the previous 6 months.

      I play games on PC, and watch Netflix on the Boxee.

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      May 20, 2013 10:38 AM

      Don't you have to have gold to use netflix?? Or did I read it wrong?

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      May 20, 2013 10:40 AM

      I've been off for almost 2 years now. I just don't like the multiplayer experience and there's really nothing I can't do better on PC.

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      May 20, 2013 10:44 AM

      Netflix is the only thing I was using it for, so I cancelled and bought an appleTV, which has since paid for itself.

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      May 20, 2013 10:55 AM

      At $60 I would say no unless you are heavy into online multiplayer. At around $35 it becomes much more palatable because that's not much to ask spread across a year. Live doesn't provide dedicated servers but it still takes a good amount of backend infrastructure to enable the platform's communication options and friends list features. I am willing to chip in some money to support that backend so it runs well and is continuously upgraded. $30-$35 is not robbery. I expect Live will get a BIG upgrade with the debut of the next Xbox and those additional features will help to further justify the $30-$40 sting. What Microsoft can't do is push far beyond the cost of a new game (i.e. $60) or start nickel and diming users for individual features. They also should not rollout a tiered service model/pricing plan. It needs to remain as one flat annual fee to keep things as simple as possible.

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        May 21, 2013 12:46 AM

        you DO realize its 60 bucks for an entire year, right? thats like, a fucking cheeseburger a month

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        May 21, 2013 8:42 AM

        My beef with XBL has been MS forcing people wanting to play online or watch movies using their Netflix account to pay for an XBL subscription. If MS wants to sell a 'premium' service that's fine but offer something beyond what people have already paid for. Offer dedicated servers for better performance. Offer premium movies that you can't get with a vanilla Netflix membership. Charging extra for services already paid for is complete bull.

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      May 20, 2013 10:55 AM

      [deleted]

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      May 20, 2013 11:02 AM

      [deleted]

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      May 20, 2013 11:36 AM

      [deleted]

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      May 20, 2013 11:38 AM

      [deleted]

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      May 20, 2013 11:43 AM

      you get what you pay for, account hacked on sony ps, xbox live never been hacked or compromised, more people play online on xbox and pay for it than a free service of sony ps which does not have a online community like xbox. free is not always good. i have enough expendable income to pay for quality service. i rather pay good hard earned money on my Ford Raptor than a regular nissan truck because the raptor is 100x more better than the lowest quality of a cheap truck. nuff said.

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      May 20, 2013 11:45 AM

      I'm pretty much done with XBL... I think I'm going to get a PS4 for my next-gen gaming.

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        May 20, 2013 12:25 PM

        The only issue I have with this comment, is Sony was very dodgy about what the PS4 online service would look like, and even made it a point to say that the PS4 service was not necessarily going to be a continuation of PSN+.

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          May 20, 2013 1:45 PM

          I wouldn't be surprised if it's a pay service similar to XBL. With PSN they pretty much needed to make it free since it was so late and they needed to get people on board, but that won't be an issue with the PS4, and they could certainly use the money.

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            May 20, 2013 1:48 PM

            Gabe Newell is praying as hard as he can that the next Playstation and Xbox will require a monthly fee.

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      May 20, 2013 12:25 PM

      No. I was sitting on an unused 12 month gold card for the longest time, but only renewed when I finally got around to playing Forza Horizons for the first time after getting it last black Friday for $15. Factoring in the cost of gold renewal means I basically got suckered into paying more than retail for it. Microsoft: 1, My Documents: 0

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      May 20, 2013 12:25 PM

      Considering there is an endless stream of discount opportunities to pickup Gold membership; I think crying about the fee is overblown. I can't remember the last, or any time for that mater, that I've paid full price for a year of Gold. I've always managed to find some kind of promotion or discount to knock it down to something I thought was reasonable enough.

      Gotta agree that removing the ads would be nice though.

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      May 20, 2013 12:37 PM

      I canceled my subscription the moment they made it easy to do so from the website. Before that you had to call them and argue with a CSR or cancel your credit card. I barely took advantage of the services Gold provided, and I certainly don't miss it. If I played lots of online games on XBL it would obviously be worth it, but I do most of my online gaming on PC.

      To contrast I got more value out of PS+ the instant I subscribed.

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      May 20, 2013 12:44 PM

      aw yeahhh I got in the article :D

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      May 20, 2013 12:50 PM

      I payed for the gold service for 10 years and what did it get me? Nothing. I don't care about cross game chat, if I'm playing a different game, why the hell would I want to talk to that person while playing? Seriously..

      The discounts suck 99.9% of the time so I was pretty much paying for the ability to play online. I'm glad I stopped using that service. I haven't been too happy with Plus but that's only because I haven't been interested in most of the games they've offered so far or already had them but at least they offer something worth the yearly price tag.

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      May 20, 2013 1:39 PM

      I got my 360 on launch day and I think I've paid for a total of 6 months of Gold since.. A 3 month card for each L4D release.

      I'm definitely not normal, though. I really only enjoy cooperative multiplayer. I'm just not competitive at all.

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      May 20, 2013 2:09 PM

      Been a member for about 7 years straight. Never paid more than $30 for a one year gold card (used slickdeals). That's like $2.50 per month, not a big deal.

      Should I be paying for it? No. Is it cheaper than buying a good gaming PC? Yes. Will I stop answering my own questions like a douchebag? Probably not.

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      May 20, 2013 2:16 PM

      BRING BACK 1 vs 100

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      May 20, 2013 3:00 PM

      I dont understand why i have to give them money to be able to play online and i dont understand why ppl are ok with this.

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      May 20, 2013 4:03 PM

      If PS4 does it right, I may very well make the switch. The only reason I use it right now is because my son love his Netflix and Xbox has the best interface to it.

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      May 20, 2013 10:05 PM

      Never was.

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      May 20, 2013 10:20 PM

      zomg quoted! living the high life right here

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      May 21, 2013 2:08 AM

      I really should cancel, I don't use XBL at all now and haven't in ages, I just like keeping my short Gamertag and i can do that on Silver.

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