Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for companies making money by selling us products and services. It is after all the basis of the free market that we all know and love. But when it comes to paying a company a monthly fee just to be able to stream media through their console, that’s where I think they’ve gone too far. And they’ve been doing it a long, long time.
This isn’t me being an Apple-fanboy, this is me being pissed at having to pay a fee to Microsoft so that their gaming device which I already paid for will be able to stream Netflix through it. They are the only gaming platform that charges a fee to do this, and in my opinion it is nothing but a cash-grab. What exactly does Microsoft need to do in order or us to use our XBox360’s to stream video through it that can justify forcing users to pay for XBox Live Gold just to use it? Is it maybe because they have their own service (Xbox Live Marketplace/ Zune Marketplace) that allows you to download movies and music, for another additional fee of course.
They already give us a console that doesn’t include a WiFi adapter out of the box and has more software “updates” than any other console, as well as being the only one to have an entire section of their company dedicated to dealing with broken devices and the “Red Ring of Death“, but they also have the gall to make us pay them a premium just to make their console do something that costs them nothing. There is no overhead for them to worry about, nothing to administer, no additional load on their servers, so why make us subscribe to Gold just to make it work?
The statement that really got my goat was from someone on Twitter who said “it’s only $60” when I made a comment about being annoyed I had to pay to stream Netflix on my XBox360 when we were discussing which console was better. Yes, it is only $60 per year. But that doesn’t make it right. Playstation does not charge for you to stream Netflix, neither does Wii. Besides, $60 can feed a starving kid for 2 months. It can keep a few dogs well fed at the Humane Society for a couple of months too. Or to be more selfish, it’ll pay for my morning timmy’s for 2 months.
The point is, we’ve already paid for the device and if they truly want it to become part of our media hub, why force us to spend more money each month for an add-on service that offers someone like me no value? Where we live the internet speed available is too slow to make online gaming possible – I’ve tried it. I rezz just fast enough to see myself fragged over and over again. Kinda makes most of the games being developed nowadays a rip-off too since most of the fun is online based, but that’s a rant for another day. So what else does Gold offer? Video Kinect, Twitter and Facebook on my XBox360 – no thanks, we have computers and other devices for that that work much better. Aside from the fact that to do that I would also need to get gold accounts for my kids too, which means paying even more for the family plan for Gold. Why isn’t there a plan available per device, which would make the most sense since most of the time only one person is going to be using the device & those services at a time. Like I said, just another cash-grab.
So really the only part of the Gold account I want is the ability to stream Netflix thru my console, all the rest is of no use or interest to me. I guess what amazes me the most is the fact there are so many people paying for a service that the other console makers give away for free. (latest number i found was over 30 million “Live” accounts, no breakdown as to how many are Free and how many are Gold though) Maybe if Xbox stopped charging the extra money for the Gold accounts then more people would use them and be willing to pay extra in the XBox Live Marketplace & Zune Marketplace to download movies and TV shows, instead of charging us a fee for the privilege of being able to pay them even more of our hard-earned cash.