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Live Pricing Needs to Change for PCs

May 11, 2007

There is a pretty good discussion of some of the disappointing aspects of the implementation of Live (the PC version of Xbox Live) for PCs at ExtremeTech. There was a similar discussion on the 1UpYours podcast a few weeks back.

The fundamental problem is that Microsoft plans to charge PC gamers $50 for services that have been free in PC games for years. Not all PC games, but many of them.  Personally, as an Xbox Live Gold subscriber I would get Live for the PC for free, but I fear that this approach will inhibit the growth of what would be a nice service for PC games and one that would be strategically helpful for Microsoft in the console wars.

I have no objection to MS charging, but instead of charging gamers, why doesn’t MS charge developers instead. The fees could be based on the technologies they used and the number of players actually using the service. Or alternatively, MS could still charge PC something, just much less than $50 per year so that subscribing became a no-brainer decision.

Gamers benefit from Xbox Live by having cross-platform features (like achievements) and developers benefit because they get access to nice code libraries for implementing online features. Gamers also are likely to benefit from Live making it easier for developers to implement features like voice chat within games.

In short, the Live system itself seems like a great idea, it would be a shame to see its adoption retarded by a poor pricing scheme.

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