Talking tech since 2003

“I’m thinking about letting my Xbox Live subscription expire,” a friend messaged me today.

“You’re a fool,” I replied.

And then he explained his reasoning. There hasn’t been anything all that impressive in the multiplayer department since Halo 4, and the Games with Gold program, intended to make Xbox Live more enticing, has offered older titles that he already owns and Arcade titles he has no interest in playing.

Sony's PlayStation Plus service has done quite a bit to chip away at the perceived value of an Xbox Live subscription.
Sony’s PlayStation Plus service has done quite a bit to chip away at the perceived value of an Xbox Live subscription.

He’s essentially been paying $60 a year to use Netflix, which he can access on his PlayStation 3 at no cost.

It’s a dilemma a lot of Xbox 360 and Xbox One owners are likely facing. Is Xbox Live still worth the price tag, especially when you can pay $10 less to get more value out of a PlayStation Plus subscription?

Even as an Xbox One owner, I now feel slightly torn about whether or not Xbox Live is worth the price. I’ll certainly be picking up Titanfall in March, but does playing just that game justify the high cost? And sure, Microsoft will continue to give away free Games with Gold titles for the 360, but will they be at the same level as what we’ve seen so far? I mean, what’s on tap for March: Eragon on the 1st and Kinect Sports on the 15th?

If you zoom out and look at the past few years leading up to the launch of the Xbox One, it really feels like Microsoft became a bit complacent in its top spot. It had jumped into video games and, in just two generations, beat Sony. And that was quite a feat, no question.

The problem with being on top, though, is that there are competitors right under you who are always trying to knock you down, including the one you stole the crown from.

Sony worked hard to make its subscription offering desirable to gamers. It worked a lot of value into the $50 per year that PS3 owners were paying, and it looks like it’ll keep the ball rolling with the PS4.

Microsoft, on the other hand, hasn’t exactly wowed anyone with its free games lineup. And that Games with Gold perk hasn’t made its way to the Xbox One yet. PlayStation Plus subscriptions can be used on the PS3, the PS4 and the Vita.

I’m signed up at least another three months, so I won’t be letting my Xbox Live subscription lapse just yet. But I’m hoping to see some marked improvement in what Microsoft is offering with the subscription. Sony is doing a lot of really cool stuff with PlayStation Plus, and the PlayStation 4, and the PlayStation Vita. It’s become an amazing ecosystem, and I can’t say I haven’t looked toward Sony’s offerings with a tinge of regret. So Microsoft needs to stop treating Xbox Live as a way to make money, and instead treat it as a way to attract and retain customers.

Because if I go PlayStation, who knows if I’ll ever come back?

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