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Gold members getting free Xbox One games because Sony made PS+ important

"Heads up future #XboxOne owners," the @Xbox twitter posted today between #constant #hashtags #about #its #upcoming #launch. "Access to free games each month is coming for Xbox Live Gold members on #XboxOne. Details coming in 2014." (Yeah, they hashtagged #XboxOne twice in the same tweet.) 

Sound familiar? It should--it’s basically what Sony has been doing with PlayStation Plus for the past three years. Since 2010, Sony has been steadily tinkering with PS Plus, adding new features and systems that create a robust online experience that's actually worth getting. Microsoft dabbled in improving XBL's value when it started giving out free games this year (with recent #smash #hits like #Halo 3 and #Assassin's #Creed 2!), but continuing this service with the Xbox One is a pretty big deal.

Why now? Simple: Sony has forced Microsoft to improve at the cost of making its own system worse.

Though gamers loved to try, you really couldn't compare Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus. Plus granted free games and discounts, but was more of a coupon book (a really good coupon book) than an actual online service. It wasn't needed to play demos or to game online, meaning it was less of a must have and more of a nice to have.

Gold, on the other hand, was necessary if you wanted to actually use your Xbox 360 with any level of self respect. Some features--namely, online multiplayer--were inaccessible unless you paid your monthly fee. Miss a payment and you're all alone playing singleplayer games like a sucker. While they were both monthly services that improved their consoles, they offered totally different value propositions.

But that's no longer the case. Online multiplayer is locked behind a paywall with the PS4, meaning that, after a long time of battling apples with oranges, Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus became basically the same thing. There are still some differences between what the consoles do and don't limit to paying customers (Netflix works either way on the PS4, but requires Gold on Xbox One), but they're more similar now than they were then. 

By demanding a monthly fee for multiplayer, Sony has made the PlayStation 4 a slightly worse system overall, while also making Xbox Live less valuable. It put them in real competition, forcing Microsoft to do something about it like, oh, I don't know, giving away free games.

This is good for you. It means you might need to pay a monthly fee for PlayStation Plus (which is honestly worth the money), but it's for the best. Since Microsoft needs to actively try to battle Sony on the online front, it has to upgrade its service. It can't really afford to do what it did last-generation, either--don't expect to see Xbox Live plastered with ads if Sony keeps its interface clean. Microsoft made Xbox Live a worse experience as it dominated the online space unopposed for a generation, but now that this is a fight, I don't expect to see this problem #repeating; we have consoles that are actually #competing.

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62 comments

  • gixxerdevil - January 29, 2014 5:51 p.m.

    Theres a reason ps+ was free and xbox live wasnt and thats cos playstations online service sucks ass really bad. Its like going in a shop and buying a magazine for a fiver and pickin up an the big issue of a homeless person what ones gunna be better
  • FierceVoltage - November 17, 2013 11:14 p.m.

    this article is so convoluted I can't even understand the last paragraph... "Microsoft made Xbox Live a worse experience as it dominated the online space unopposed for a generation" is this sentence missing some words or something?
  • Eightboll812 - November 18, 2013 8:56 a.m.

    Read the previous sentence. He is talking about how MS plastered ads all over the interface. Because they didn't have any real competition, they could do what they wanted, including harass you with annoying ads every time you booted your machine. When there is an "alternative" that customers can choose instead, you now have to be concerned with customers leaving, and you have to make your product competitive. Think of it like two different websites that have the exact same "info" you are looking for. One makes you click through three annoying popup ads before you can view the page, the other does not. Which are you going to go back to next time? Probably the one that doesn't make you wade through crappy ads. If there were only one website that had the info you were looking for, you'd have no choice but to sit through as many ads as the owner wanted you to view. And that was the point of the last paragraph.
  • mothbanquet - November 16, 2013 2:19 a.m.

    The whole 'online service' shenanigans is why I went back to PC. While I deemed the fee for XBL a small price to pay for what I got out of it, through it MS dictated exactly what I saw when I booted up my Box, made it more difficult to navigate to the things I was actually interested in and generally made it the equivalent of having some loud, fat git yell and thrust things in my face when I just wanted a quiet morning session on Bad Company 2. The PS3 was a much more pleasant experience, though never quite as thriving and vibrant. Now they're levelling the playing field and no matter how you look at it, one will be just as good/bad as the other in due time.
  • Jackonomics - November 15, 2013 6:59 p.m.

    Good, I don't care why or how, Good. People give Microsoft a lot of shit but they atleast listen and make changes
  • talleyXIV - November 15, 2013 12:08 p.m.

    Gold Games by Microsoft was a joke, they gave us trash games and a couple of respectable ones that we at least 3 years old. Playstation Plus really made me regret selling my PS3, their gifted games and discounts are really unbelievable.
  • P0ck3tC1am - November 15, 2013 12:17 p.m.

    Well of course they were free, what else would you expect from MS? There was a reason they were free. And putting Halo 3 in there just made me laugh....because if you wanted to play the Multiplayer....You had to BUY the map packs to play online.
  • udUbdaWgz - November 15, 2013 12:29 p.m.

    the funny rub is this: live still kicks playstations azz. period. you don't go to ps plus to play online, lol.
  • theaminator19 - November 15, 2013 3:34 p.m.

    Did you even read the article? Xbox live's free membership was useless compared to PlayStation free online, then with gold you essentially payed a premium for online play (free on PS3), party chats and the odd exclusive. Not worth the money in all honesty. PS Plus used to target an entirely different market, Paying monthly for extra features like auto patches, cloud saves and free games. It was never about making online gaming better and more profit, it was about giving players something back, that is something xbox's free game service never actually came close to, who wants games from years and years ago? While Xbox was getting Assassins Creed 2, PS3 players had Assassins Creed 3, Battlefield 3, games that have actually come out recently. Basically this article is saying that Sony actually have the upper hand at the moment for their next gen online services, and it's Xbox playing catch up because they now have to offer free games to compete with PS Plus.
  • udUbdaWgz - November 15, 2013 9:54 a.m.

    here's the rub: gold is a laughingly inexpensive price. however, if people can get beyond that truth, and, comprehend my point, here is the other rub: screw you msoft. how the price-wall is legal is beyond my intellect. when sony or msoft flex their corporate muscles i say the same thing every f in time: i have enuf games to last me until the day i die. pro-gamer, pro-consumer, period. screw sony and msoft. make them prove themselves over time.
  • scober - November 15, 2013 10:13 a.m.

    Legal? How could it not be legal? You are running code they provide on a system they made accessing services through their servers from companies with whom they have business relationships. If you can figure out how to run a non-Xbox OS and applications on that hardware, then you can access Netflix or whatever without paying your few $ a month. But then again, you could already do that on any number of other devices. You say this is beyond your intellect. Clearly from your post, it doesn't take much to get beyond that low level.
  • udUbdaWgz - November 15, 2013 10:24 a.m.

    like i said, it's beyond me. the price wall is a non-laughable joke to me. it's a disgrace. the low price is irrelevant, in terms of, truth. i understand morality. not financial mechanisms to cheat the system. i told you "beyond my intellect" for a reason: and, yet, you fell for the bait. go f yo self.
  • john-onepound-fisher - November 15, 2013 8:32 a.m.

    Okay bear in mind im Switzerland on this subject but... Who in the right mind is gonna fork out all that money for a next gen conole just to use it for things like Netflix and such, just because they dont wanna pay to pass the paywall. It just seems like a perk for someone who cant quite afford a next gen console yet.
  • Eightboll812 - November 15, 2013 9:25 a.m.

    It's primarily the principle of the matter as well as the cost. What other computing platforms charge you for the right to allow other apps to access the Internet? Certainly not Windows or iOS or whatever. I can't argue if MS/Sony wants to charge for us using their servers. They have cost involved in that. But I can't EVER rationalize why Netflix costs me money to use when I'm already paying Netflix, I'm already paying for Internet, and my box is only connecting over my Internet to Netflix servers. They (MS) are basically charging me a right-of-way fee for using the Wi-Fi NIC. It's wrong on many levels. But as for the cost issue, you aren't considering other scenarios. Maybe its a "family" console and the kids are young and not playing multiplayer yet. Under that circumstance you don't NEED to have Gold/Plus since you aren't using it. But you have to pay just to view Netflix. Again, wrong. Some people might let their Gold/Plus lapse simply because they aren't currently playing anything that is multiplayer. Or a gamer really might just prefer single player games. Again, not needing Gold/Plus, it makes sense to not pay for Gold/Plus, unless you are the sort that likes throwing away money and paying bills you don't owe. Such a person is still obligated to pay to use their Internet connection for non gaming, such as Netflix. I could even, sorta, kinda understand the browser being behind the paywall, since MS/Sony could justify it as saying it's their software and they paid someone to create it. But the Netflix app isn't built by Sony or MS. No reason at all for it to be behind the paywall unless we are now accepting of paying OS right-of-way fees just for our devices to be connected. Would you shrug it off if your smart phone manufacturer started sending you monthly bills for your device to be connected to a wireless service you are already paying for? Why not start paying for your iPod to use WiFi to get to iTunes? Heck, if this is so easy to rationalize, every device we own should start charging usage fees for connecting to the Internet.
  • udUbdaWgz - November 15, 2013 10:02 a.m.

    3d tv is an overpriced non-essential. sony online is not msoft gold, no matter how bad people want it to be. simplicity for the new age. "fork over" = about a whopping 3bucks per month, lol.
  • g1rldraco7 - November 15, 2013 7:21 a.m.

    Either way, you're still being charged to play online, but still fanboys are still fanboys.
  • udUbdaWgz - November 15, 2013 10:05 a.m.

    you SHOULD be charged to play online. it's a device worthy of payment. it's a privilege. (the fact that multiplayer should be made and sold separately is a different argument.) don't infect my single player campaign with multiple species of crap.
  • GOD - November 14, 2013 10:44 p.m.

    A lot of people completely misread the article. It wasn't about taking Sony down a notch or saying Sony ruined their online. It's saying that because Sony now has such a strong online offering with PS+ they have forced Microsoft's hand into actually improving their service to compete. Pointing out that without Xbox Live, 360 owners were stuck in single player, was not being mentioned as a positive. It's saying that it made it more of a necessity. When saying that by locking mutliplayer behind a pay wall it makes the system worse, he's saying that the overall offering of the standalone console is less because you're not getting free online multiplayer for all games. At the same time though, if you are getting PS+ (which you should already have) then it's actually a superior offering than what you can get with Xbox One and Gold, and that's why it's forced Microsoft's hand. So for those who need to study up on their reading comprehension, the article says that because PS+ is not only so strong, but also either comparable or superior in every way, it's forcing Microsoft to play catch up. So cool your jets. ....So Coop, can I have some of that cash that you were payed off with from MS/Sony/UndergroundConspiracyGroupX/Shiggy or whoever it was?
  • Eightboll812 - November 14, 2013 11:05 p.m.

    Good comment. Exactly right. Amazing how this article has both camps stirred up, lol.
  • AsheDarkthorne - November 15, 2013 6:20 a.m.

    Not once does he put Sony's PS+ as a superior service but of equal to that of Xbox Live. Though until that is proven it is an assumption based on how now they and Live are pay to play online services. The fanboy in you tries to show support for Sony when the author is showing that at this point in time they are equal in that people need to pay to use their services. At the same time the author is commending Xbox for continuing the games for gold program which is a much better idea for Microsoft.

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