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  1. #1
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    It's Time For Microsoft To Give Gamers a Break

    One thing came to mind when I saw the new dashboard last week - "Is it time Microsoft gave gamers a break?". Xbox Live is a fantastic service, and as a games journalist and "hardcore" gamer I use it on a daily basis but as the days fall off the calendar I wonder if Microsoft's business model for their online service is stuck in the past. Are the guys in Redmond looking back, rather than forward?

    When Xbox Live hit the scene back in 2002 there was nothing else like it. The closest service we had was "SegaNet" on the Dreamcast, and that required a dial-up connection. As I covered in my "Remembering Xbox" series, Microsoft correctly predicted that within a few years of the original Xbox's launch the nation's bandwidth infrastructure would be large enough to support multiple millions of consoles connected at one time. The idea of a game like Call of Duty or Halo: Reach, with hundreds of thousands of players playing at once, was unheard of at the time.

    The sixth anniversary of the Xbox 360 has come and gone and one thing has been consistent is for- Microsoft has been able to upgrade Xbox Live through new dashboard software and new peripherals. We have now gone far beyond the voice chat & friends list that defined the service nine years ago.


    Additions like Facebook, Netflix and now Youtube and Hulu leave the Xbox 360 in an interesting position. The Xbox 360 has quickly become the destination for 'casual' web activities that millions of people enjoy. Microsoft's barrier to entry, Xbox Live Gold, is becoming less relevant for services that users can access on their computers free of charge, and most importantly on competing platforms (3DS, Wii and PS3) for free with the same amount of effort. An arbitrary $59.99 a year fee is surely hard to justify by the audience that Microsoft is targeting with Kinect & the like. Surely there is overlap between the "hardcore" crowd that buy every AAA game and those who only play arcade, Kinect and Youtube/Facebook.

    The reorganization of the Dashboard this past week shows that Microsoft's priorities go well beyond the games that helped establish their platform. Is putting BING front and center on the new dashboard an awesome idea? The jury is still out on that one. The amount of advertising on the new dashboard has prompted some users to find ways to block the ads using various measures. If Microsoft is going to keep the pay wall active for otherwise free services do advertisements on every "blade" of the dashboard make sense?

    The advertisements start with the largest image on the "home" channel and don't stop there. The video tab for example gives you access to you videos stored on your hard drive or in the cloud on Zune Marketplace but all of these features are secondary. Unfortunately these features aren't secondary to new abilities introduced with the new dashboard but rather advertisements for last night's tv shows and the latest Hollywood releases. Perhaps for silver (free) members this amount of advertisements makes sense but why do I get the feeling I am paying a yearly fee to be advertised directly too?


    Perhaps, as 2012 begins, Microsoft should consider new solutions. I haven't even touched on the topic of the yearly subscription for what is essentially peer-to-peer multiplayer because that is not going to change. Microsoft knows that their userbase will pay yearly for multiplayer regardless of what is available on competitor's platforms. Should they open up some of the "optional" services if they want to continue to expand their audience? In my opinion, it is no longer a question of "if" but "when".

    What direction do you think Microsoft needs to take to continue the success of Xbox Live? Sound off in the comments because this is sure to be a hot topic!
    I personally don't agree with the majority of the article. I don't see advertisements (other than information letting me know what I can access on Xbox Live..games/videos/music) besides the one that has "advertisement" listed under the square.

    While I would rather pay NOTHING for Xbox Live like anyone else, I would rather PAY for it to get the quality we get now, which is untouched. The services, the connectivity, the social aspect, the integration is just awesome on Xbox Live. Without paying for XBL, we would get much less of a service.

    However, I do think that silver members should be thrown a bone some how. Maybe MS should give them some online play. Be it a limited amount of time per month, or select hours that they can play. Surely that TASTE would encourage silver members to sign up for the full gold sub if they can't get enough.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Soldier 95B View Post


    I personally don't agree with the majority of the article. I don't see advertisements (other than information letting me know what I can access on Xbox Live..games/videos/music) besides the one that has "advertisement" listed under the square.

    While I would rather pay NOTHING for Xbox Live like anyone else, I would rather PAY for it to get the quality we get now, which is untouched. The services, the connectivity, the social aspect, the integration is just awesome on Xbox Live. Without paying for XBL, we would get much less of a service.

    However, I do think that silver members should be thrown a bone some how. Maybe MS should give them some online play. Be it a limited amount of time per month, or select hours that they can play. Surely that TASTE would encourage silver members to sign up for the full gold sub if they can't get enough.
    I agree with it mostly.

    I find the ads, even the xbox related ones a lot more intrusive with the new dash. Now they are smack bang in the middle and the biggest panel. I liked how in the NXE they where there, so I could check what's new if I wanted, I liked that they were kept together under the spotlight and relevant tabs, new game addons were under the game marketplace area... that's fine as that makes sense... but now they're everywhere and taking up the most space. Like on the home page, I have a huge FIFA 12 add on ad, I don't even own the game...

    Take the image for example:



    For me, as I don't care for the movies on demand etc, or at the very least, don't want it on my home page.... 62.5% of the usable space is taken up by ads.
    I really do miss the NXE

    As for paying for live. I would like a cheaper stripped down version. It's lovely they're adding a lot of stuff for gold users... but none of it interests me....... I pretty much just play online here and there, and download the odd demo... I never use facebook / last.fm / lovefilm etc...
    Last edited by darky89; 12-13-2011 at 13:59.

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    I think they need to get rid of the advert pane. This morning I see State Farm offerings of free things > a theme and gamer pic. wtf. It's a little annoying to me.




  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by F34R View Post
    I think they need to get rid of the advert pane. This morning I see State Farm offerings of free things > a theme and gamer pic. wtf. It's a little annoying to me.
    I think so too, at least for gold members.

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    Somebody paraphrase the article for me please, lol. I'm guessing tho that's it going to say "make online free." Verdad?
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    Quote Originally Posted by F34R View Post
    I think they need to get rid of the advert pane. This morning I see State Farm offerings of free things > a theme and gamer pic. wtf. It's a little annoying to me.
    I haven't installed it yet (Dark Souls and then Skyrim on PS3) but if I'll see one ad on my Xbox I'm gonna be pissed.

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    I think that the game that is in the tray should at least be the large center square.. not the upper left tiny one

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    I really don't mind them, but I definitely see where you guys are coming from. If I had a choice, obviously I would prefer them to not be there. Overall, I am just lovin' the new interface, it's so much quicker than the last one and the layout is also great


    Quote Originally Posted by darky89 View Post
    As for paying for live. I would like a cheaper stripped down version. It's lovely they're adding a lot of stuff for gold users... but none of it interests me....... I pretty much just play online here and there, and download the odd demo... I never use facebook / last.fm / lovefilm etc...
    Same, same..

    Quote Originally Posted by Enthroll View Post
    I haven't installed it yet (Dark Souls and then Skyrim on PS3) but if I'll see one ad on my Xbox I'm gonna be pissed.
    You're gonna be pissed

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    Honestly, the ads don't bother me and i love the new dashboard. The thing i want Microsoft to do, wich i doubt they will, is have a stripped down version of Live for online play only because frankly if a light version of Live existed nobody would pay for the premium subscription because people don't care for other stuff and Microsoft knows it.

    I can't even recommend an Xbox to a friend if the major thing they'll do with their console is watch movies and Netflix... because Netflix doesn't work with Silver membership wich is a major fail by Microsoft. The PS3 does Netflix very well and it doesn't require anything other than your 8$ a month for Netflix, why does MS charge for Netflix ?

    The service is great an all that jazz but it's not worth 60$ a year imo. It's major attraction is party chat.

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    What I don't get is how people can complain about the short commercials in Hulu, saying, "I'm paying for Hulu so why is it there?"
    Cable and Satellite TV cost $40 to $120 respectively with commercials all over whilst Hulu gives you all your favorite shows real-time, anytime, and only costs you $8 a month. People are getting more spoiled these days, lpp.

    And Xbox Live is very cheap too. $4-$8 a month is amazingly cheap. The most you can buy with that money is a pack of toothbrushes. I spend about $300 on food a month and about another $200 just going out, etc. $8 is so cheap.
    Last edited by Inzane2050; 12-13-2011 at 15:49.
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    60$ for online play is too much, and the fact that gold users still see advertisements is complete bull$#@!. For the past several months I've just kept my 360 unplugged from XBL.

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    Xbox Live only costs $4-$8, not $60. That's misinformation.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Inzane2050 View Post
    Xbox Live only costs $4-$8, not $60. That's misinformation.
    http://www.joystiq.com/2010/08/30/xb...ear-beginning/

    Huge error on your part, there.

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    That link says $8 so how am I off? But it really doesn't matter at all what that article says bcuz in the real world people are getting great prices on Xbox Live for only $4-$8. Hell, I just bought a whole year's worth of Xbox Live two weeks ago for only $20. That's practically two bucks a month.
    Last edited by Inzane2050; 12-13-2011 at 17:35.
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    My face just hit the desk as a natural reaction to reading your post. Microsoft prices XBL at 60$ for a yearly payment- that's a fact. It's also apparently 10$ a month now, which means if you paid monthly it would come to 120$ a year.

    Additionally, what does you getting a year of XBL for 20$ have anything to do with this? It doesn't.
    Last edited by Nerevar; 12-13-2011 at 17:50.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rapture View Post
    Additionally, what does you getting a year of XBL for 20$ have anything to do with this? It doesn't.
    It has nothing to do with anything. You're right. Just as you are right in saying Xbox Live costs $120/yr. My bad.
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    Not that it means anything, but I've never paid over $3/month for Live. I have a month left, so I better find a deal soon, or I'll be without Live until then.

    On topic, I'm sick of seeing ads, even slightly. First, it didn't bother me much, but they seem to get bigger and more frequent.




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    Quote Originally Posted by Inzane2050 View Post
    What I don't get is how people can complain about the short commercials in Hulu, saying, "I'm paying for Hulu so why is it there?"
    Maybe because the same people paid for Hulu to watch their favourite vids WITHOUT being exposed to crap commercials they would normally get on sat and cable. Ads are everywhere nowadays and it's something that doesn't sit right with me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by F34R View Post
    Not that it means anything, but I've never paid over $3/month for Live. I have a month left, so I better find a deal soon, or I'll be without Live until then.

    On topic, I'm sick of seeing ads, even slightly. First, it didn't bother me much, but they seem to get bigger and more frequent.
    Same here. I stocked up on 3mo cards for $7.99 at Best Buy during Black Friday. I am good with Gold for the next 15 months and it cost me $40 plus tax.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Enthroll View Post
    Maybe because the same people paid for Hulu to watch their favourite vids WITHOUT being exposed to crap commercials they would normally get on sat and cable. Ads are everywhere nowadays and it's something that doesn't sit right with me.
    The only reason a dirty cheap service like Hulu can exist is because of commercials. If you want the owners of Hulu to go bankrupt trying to give us such a great, affordable service; then removing commercials would be the best bet. It's just something we need to except. For $8 a month, beggers cant be choosers.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enthroll View Post
    Maybe because the same people paid for Hulu to watch their favourite vids WITHOUT being exposed to crap commercials they would normally get on sat and cable. Ads are everywhere nowadays and it's something that doesn't sit right with me.



    Oh man...
    How do you know those ads are not what is keeping Hulu at $9.99? I bet if the ads were gone Hulu would cost more money.

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    Bingo. Xbox Live is cheap regardless of what you see on interwebs links. And Xbox Live still sells at retail for $60, not $120, for a year. And they anyways have deals to knock down that price even further. And I'm in Seattle of all places.

    And yeah, you can't complain about ads in Hulu considering the ads are what keep it cheap. The cheapest TV service in existence is being hated even tho it has much, much fewer ads than the $100 satellite TV you have.
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  24. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enthroll View Post
    I haven't installed it yet (Dark Souls and then Skyrim on PS3) but if I'll see one ad on my Xbox I'm gonna be pissed.
    Well, then you better not ever have turned on your Xbox from November of 2005. It has had ads on the dash since day one.

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    Been saying this forever.


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    It's always something.

    What else should they put in those big squares under each tab? Or should they take off the valid information (ads) which every online store has and just have this big open space on the screen. Then you'll complain about the wasted space.

    When they put music, tv, game, or movie ads up like Hangover 2 maybe it's to let people know that they actually have that item and they can come get it.

    Maybe they put those ads up so it will help sells and people can discover more music, tv, game, or movie content. Which makes the developers, artist, and studios happy so in turn they will be enticed to bring more content to the xbox for "us" to consume at our leisure.

    But who knows maybe my logic is flawed. Damn them for letting me know that the youtube app was ready and available to be downloaded today. They wasted my precious square right on my home tab for youtube. PISSED I AM. Forget that I was waiting on it anyway i'll figure it out on my own time. pissed. /s

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