X Box Live Gold – A Rant

The first system I got for the last generation of consoles was the X Box 360. As a result, I’m horribly biased toward it. Sure, it had the RROD issues, okay it didn’t have the best graphics, and it certainly didn’t have the best price, but it was a good middle of the road console that offered some of the best of gaming with the most expansive library, didn’t require for all of its games to be installed prior to play, and didn’t have a funky controller setup.

However, there’s something I’ve pondered lately that’s caused me to rethink my stance on the 360 and it’s something you should think about as well: what exactly are you paying for for a Gold membership? Let me explain. One of the first things that happened when I got a 360 is learned a number of my buds were playing online and that I would need a Gold membership to play with them.

Initially, I was hesitant. I cited the common argument that I use now: “Shouldn’t this be free? The PC is free, the PS3 is free, the Wii is free.” “Well, you get what you pay for.” Really? So what am I paying for? The idea that you get what you pay for is that when you don’t pay for something, you lose something as a result, whether that’s quality, reliability, or whatever.

But hey, at least they keep the games you already paid for on there, right? Oh wait…

The problem is the 360 has had its fair share of network problems, they’ve been hacked, and up until recently there was no true benefit to having a Gold membership above and beyond being able to just DO STUFF online. That shouldn’t come at a premium. All the same, I bought into it and had a lot of fun with my friends.

Then I experienced RROD. Twice. On the same console. Through multiple repairs. So I got a new 360. Same thing happened. I had to hang it up for a while and in the interim my Gold membership ran out. Another thing I want to mention without getting too far sidetracked is the phone AND e-mail support for XBL is TERRIBLE.

They don’t listen, they talk over you, they’re accusative, they’re snappy, and they really don’t care about you, the consumer. I unenrolled from autopay after the first fiasco and they STILL tried to auto-debit on a card that had already been cancelled, then sent me a particularly nasty and threatening e-mail. Didn’t matter at the time because I was between consoles, but I figured I’d share.

In any case, something happened fairly recently that’s caused me to entirely question the necessity of a Gold membership: Netflix. What about Netflix? Well, it’s now possible to watch Netflix on any iOS device, any Android device, laptops, desktops, Wiis, PS3s, rokus…hell, I could probably broadcast it on my dick if I found the right app.

All of this is free. Well, you have to pay for a Netflix membership, but you don’t have to pay to activate each app or pay an additional amount per month per device or whatever. Why does this matter? Well, I had grown accustomed to playing Netflix on my Wii, then on the PS3. Previously, when I initially had the 360, I mostly played it on that.

But now when I go to play on my 360? Oh, I’m sorry, you need a Gold membership! What, why? I’m already paying for Netflix, why would I have to pay for a Gold membership as well? Because fuck you, that’s why. If that wasn’t already annoying enough, let’s go back to the idea that “you get what you pay for.”

Oh, THIS fucking mess…

So I guess host migration never happened. Oh, but that was the GAME’S fault! Sure sure, so I guess there was never network lag or people being dropped from matches randomly or anything like that happening in Dead Rising 2. Again, that was the GAME’S fault! And I suppose the online Castlevania game didn’t have ATROCIOUS match making problems, let alone the fact that people would drop like flies in the middle of matches and not be able to recon-THAT WAS THE GAME’S FAULT!!

There are only so many times you can tell me it’s the game’s fault before I start to not believe you. And the problem is that though the Wii might have the ridiculous friend code system, the PS3 and PC are pretty solid, network-wise. So again, what the FUCK am I paying for? Don’t TELL me it’s the quality, because it isn’t.

Don’t TELL me it’s exclusives, because that’s a lie. And don’t TELL me it’s the best network possible, because I’ll tell you to eat your ass. At the end of the day, I don’t feel like you actually get anything of value for subscribing to a Gold membership. At this point, I feel like X Box has a few ways they could go with this.

First of all, they could do what the PS3 does. You just have it where a Silver membership (which you don’t pay for) earns you enough access to play everything online you want to play, but a Gold membership earns you all kinds of exclusives, including free games, massive discounts, and so on (in other words, parrot the PS3’s PS-Plus program).

Yes, I’m aware X Box has STARTED to do something similar, but you still need a Gold membership to do 75% of the things you actually want to do on there. Plus, I wouldn’t put it past them to start something stupid like a Platinum membership to do everything I’m saying, but have it come as a super premium price.

Anyway, another possibility is they just do away with the price altogether. Everyone has a Gold membership. Sure, they’d have to find some way to reward customers that have invested in a Gold membership already, but that’s besides the point. You shouldn’t have to pay just to play online.

I’m worried that if X Box continues down the road it has been that people will call it out for what it is. And when that day happens, especially with no real first party exclusives at this point, they could go the way of the Dreamcast. I’m not saying it will happen or even that I want it to happen, but it very definitely could if they don’t get their shit together.

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Filed under Videogames, X Box 360, XBLA

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