Microsoft: Xbox Live price hike covers the cost of exclusives, new features

Wondering why your Xbox Live Gold subscription increased from $50 to $60 per year? Microsoft didn't offer an explanation whenthe increasewas announced, but now that it's taken effect withthe fall update,MS says the hike was required to cover the costs of exclusive content and games, the increased number of XBL users, and new features.

"In 2002 it was strictly multiplayer gaming," said Xbox Live's Craig Davison inan interview with Gamasutra. "Now we get those Call of Duty map packs before anybody else does. We've got Gears and Halo, of course, as exclusives. We continue to get exclusives on the service as well. And we've gone from 400,000 members in our first year to 25 million."

Davison also cited thejust-released ESPN partnership as evidence of Microsoft's commitment to bringing new features to the service.

Above: Give him a cut of your subscription fee or his rage will drive him onto another console

Microsoft'sjustification is mostly nothing we object to. We like new features (not that we intend to get a great deal of use out of the ESPN app), and we like Gears and Halo, though we're not sure we love paying for Microsoft's exclusives in a roundabout way. We'll probably never download the CoD map packs, and who knows how many future exclusives Microsoft will "buy." We may have no interest in getting them early, or at all, but we'll still be paying for them... sort of.

But excluding exclusives (ha?), we're willing to accept that the service and its extra features cost money to maintain and build on. Despite the 360being the only console which charges a fee for general online play, we've been impressed withit enough to continue toshell out.

At least 10-or-so of us at GamesRadar US have XBL Gold accounts, andaccording to Forbes, there are about 12.5 million Gold subscribers, so that means there are approximately 12,499,990 people who agree with us (or at least haven't cancelled their subscriptions yet).

Granted, Forbes also noted how much Microsoft stands to gain from the increase, which comes just asit expects a wave ofnew Kinect purchasers to join.

What do you think of the service and its fee? Is the $10 price hike justifiable, or should we all be kicking the habit and buying PS3s? Keep our 12,499,990 friends in mind... they validate our luxury expenses so we don't feel bad about cutting corners on other stuff, like birthday presents for our mothers, or whatever.

Nov 2, 2010

Associate Editor, Digital at PC Gamer