Why the XBL Price Hike Isn't Actually THAT Bad
Microsoft has announced a price increase for Xbox live effective November 1st, bringing the pricepoint established in 2002 from a snug 50 dollars up to 60. As you might’ve guessed, the reception hasn’t been all positive around the web. Why increase the pricepoint now, what is is justifying it? With resentment, people ask why they should be forced to pay more money for “useless” features such as Facebook and ESPN–why should anyone pay for something which they might not even use?
I’m not here to tell you that these concerns are wrong, because they are valid. Really. It’s your money that’s on the line, and you want to get the most out of your dollar.
At the same time some criticism floating around right now is illogical, there’s little basis for some of it. Ignoring that only shmucks pay full price for XBL–there’s always slick dealin’ going on in the web–let’s think about what the pricepoint really translates to.
That’s five dollars a month. Yeah, seriously. Five dollars for a fast and robust online service.
Yes, you might not use all the features–but couldn’t you say that beforehand, too? How many people do you know that used all of the XBL features? Do you? This is an issue, now?
Let’s also not forget that the pricepoint was established in 2002: that was almost a decade ago. If we take a look at inflation, 50 dollars in 2002 is the equivalent of about 60 dollars in 2010. You’re not actually paying more for it, you’re technically paying the same price.
We also know that there are some incoming improvements, like better voicechat, that our money will probably go toward. It’s cynical to think that the pricepoint is the result of purely, evil/greedy corporate honchos which are simply looking to squeeze more dollars out of their consumers. If this was the case, why would they have waited this long to increase the price? It would have happened sooner.
Now, the real issue is, does XBL offer any actual value to you period? That much, I will concede is arguable. Different people have different needs and expectations. And some people, like PSN/etc users can and will be satisfied with a service that may not be amazing, but is still good enough. But there’s also clearly a userbase that is willing to pay a little for what they consider to be a better quality of service. Both are valid viewpoints.
And, jointly, the real issue is exactly that: there are different needs and expectations which the current pricing plans for XBL does not satiate. Some players will only use the online component of their games, and some people who will only use Netflix, and just about everything else inbetween. Ideally there would be different packages which offer different components of the current XBL package. This doesn’t exist currently, but the concerns surrounding this price hike have clearly illustrated that perhaps it should.
And that, folks, is the subject of a post onto itself.