Recently Microsoft announced the Xbox Live Gold membership will be seeing a price increase November 1st.
Why the rate hike? According to an email I was sent. "Over the past seven years, Xbox LIVE has evolved from an online gaming platform to an all-in-one gaming and entertainment service."
|Old Xbox Live UI|
Xbox Live has come a long way since the days of Return to Castle Wolfenstein and MechAssault. (The service really didn't get much attention until Halo 2.)
Since then Netflixs, Last FM, Facebook, Twitter, and Xbox Live Arcade have been added to the Gold Member subscription. This is in addition to exclusive previews, demos, and access to on-line multiplayer.
I cannot ding Microsoft for increasing the yearly price by ten dollars. That's not ridiculous from a business perspective. (Besides you can get the subscription at a reduce price via Newegg.com and Amazon.com.)
From a consumer point of view I have one concern. Advertising. Recently I became employed because of an ad firm. The ads on Xbox Live is a job for someone, and in this economy more jobs can't hurt.
On the flip side I don't want to be bothered, or bombarded, with ads if I'm paying for a yearly subscription. I've seen a significant increase in advertisements, and I can easily imagine a Facebook like ad interface on Xbox Live.
|Even Earthworm Jim likes Xbox Live.|
The easy pipe dream solution. Allow for a free, or at least cheaper, Gold membership that plays commercials each time the system starts. Hell even throw it before the game boots. There could also be advertisment tickers or logos on non-critical screens (i.e. load screens, title screens, etc)
The ad revenue will supplement the subscription fee, and maybe even exceeded it. Also Microsoft could claim one more feature for their Gold membership--being ad free.
I know one thing is for sure. I will end up paying for a Gold membership because I enjoy multiplayer. It's kinda of like a tax on each game I purchase, but the entertainment is worth it.