By BlazeHedgehog 29 Comments
So I've been against Xbox Live Gold for a really long time. Not against it as a concept, mind you, but against it as a product. A monetized service. In my opinion, Xbox Live Gold is a ripoff, and that those who choose to defend the service are being tricked and hypnotized by a very carefully executed marketing effort and brand management team. There was a very strong sentiment at first that Xbox Live Gold was "the only way Microsoft could turn a profit" on the Xbox and therefore it was okay, because you were supporting the first baby steps in to online console multiplayer. There are those out there for whom paying for Xbox Live Gold makes them feel good, thinking that the service gives them a perch in which they can look down their noses at the "commoners" stuck with Xbox Live Silver. They see it as buying a ticket in to a special club for the elite few that can afford it. I've spoken to these deranged individuals, often by airing these very complaints. It was surreal, to say the least.
All of that stuff sort of made me kind of annoyed. I never really considered myself much of a PC gamer, but here I am with both Steam and Xfire on the PC, two pieces of software that not only match Xbox Live feature-for-feature, but greatly surpass it. Xbox Live Gold has never been exposed as a greater sham as when Microsoft had the great idea of transferring the service to the PC, the very den of these two pieces of software. " Games for Windows Live Gold" offered all of the functionality of its console sibling on the PC for the same subscription fee and it fell flat on its face. Why would you pay for that? You wouldn't, that's why. In light of that, it's hard not to imagine Microsoft is holding Xbox Live hostage and is demanding a ransom in exchange. The only reason anybody started paying for Xbox Live Gold is because there is no Steam. There is no Xfire. There is no choice. And like some sort of stockholm syndrome, now people are starting to think that's okay. They say to themselves, "That's the way it is."
So I lived a comfortable life without Xbox Live Gold. I could never justify the cost. Sure, it's only $0.03 a day or whatever, but it's not as though my Xbox 360 has a coin slot on it. You have to play by Microsoft's rules, buy the time in pre-determined chunks. When faced with the opportunity to spend $50 on temporary access to service I should be getting for free or spending $50 on something that's going to last me "a life time", I have always chosen door number 2. Bigger fish to fry, and all of that. Ironically, for a person who was fine not having Xbox Live Gold, I have found myself with a subscription to the service that does not expire until April 2011, acquired legally and free of charge.
It will be interesting to see if, in a year's time, I too will have developed a sympathy towards Xbox Live Gold. In the mean time, I will continue to play the BLUR Multiplayer Beta.