What's Wrong with Xbox Live?

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Asparagus Brown:

Treblaine:

Asparagus Brown:
I don't think dedicated servers on Xbox live is a very good idea at all.

How do you run worldwide leaderboards across multiple servers?

It complicates a service that's intended to be simple, accessible and completely connected.

I think you have been misled on or misunderstood how online gaming works.

We are talking about Game HOSTING. That is the heavy processing and high server load of running the game and sharing out the millions of data packets to each player in their home with low latency.

With dedicated servers (as usual on PC), you rent a specialised super-computer (or portion of one) that is positioned deep in the networks of the internet with the lowest possible latency for all, and enterprise level reliability.

With consoles most of the time it is just peer-to-peer where most of the work is STILL done by the users. There are algorithms to find groups of consoles trying to connect that decide which is best to serve as the "host". The host (person at home with their Xbox connected online) functions just the same as a dedicated server only:
-higher latency
-host advantage
-lower reliability
-poor control
-poor organisation
-inflexible
-basically all bad.

But the stat-tracking, leaderboards, authorisation and achievement tracking is not done by either the Dedicated server OR the host console, that is a LOW DATA VOLUME task run by a few low-power servers owned and operated by the parent company, it basically stands over that and takes a note of everything that happens. It works like for Steam, where the overwhelming majority of games are on dedicated servers but all the time Valve's Steam client-software (much like XBL) is offering support, tracking and assisting but not actually running much at all.

"If you just want a six-person server with your friends, it might run you something like $8 a month." I imagine it'd be difficult to rank these people against the rest of the world.

You're right, though: I don't know a whole heap about how online gaming works, which is in part why the whole Xbox Live thing appeals to me. It means I can throw in a disc and jump into a game and it's as simple as that. I realise there are large downsides to the Live model in regards to performance and moderation, but I think that fracturing it into user-run moderated servers isn't the best in terms of accessibility, which seems to be one of Microsoft's main goals with the service.

Anyway, feel free to inform/correct me on that if there's anything I've said that doesn't add up.

NOPE!

Just because ONE SINGLE SERVER that six people join exist does NOT mean there cannot be an over-arching stat-tracking system covering ALL servers that a game might connect to.

Valve Software's very popular Steam Client lets you connect your game to any server, including servers as small as only 4 players, and with supported games still track all achievements, stats, leader-boards and all that crap. And you don't need to know a thing about how it works for it to happen. Just launch the game (don't even have to insert the disc) and join a muliplayer game.

The least Microsoft could do is have dedicated servers available on GOLD membership and have just peer-2-peer online for the free silver membership. Many games are able to easily operate on both types of network protocols.

Are Xbox 360 gamers fundamentally more immature and anti-social than PC gamers that even the best of them cannot consistently be trusted to host servers? Well i wouldn't know as no one has ever given them the opportunity and frankly the way that console gamers are treated by Microsoft it certainly doesn't inspire positive gaming attitudes like: fair play, good sportsmanship, dedication and commitment to maintaining systems.

Macflash:
If players had to run their servers, they'd just be like the servers in PC games. Laggy, annoying, and formidable to the unexperienced player. Say you want to find play a game, you've had a long day. You sit down to play your favorite console game, and to find a match you have to sift through lists of thousands of servers to try to find one playing a game settings you like that has a decent ping and might have people of your same skill level, and then the countless other factors. Or you just want to be in a game with your friends, you don't want to deal with finding a server with room for all of you and a place where you can be on the same team, that has a good ping for all your friends, etc.

Basically, if you want dedicated self run servers, go play a PC game. Servers have more customization options there, you can run custom mods which are impossible on the Xbox, because they won't allow you to download the necessary files and whatnot. And you can play there for free.

I will stick to letting the Microsoft servers find me a nice multiplayer match, so I can focus on shooting random strangers in their virtual face.

You get just as bad and WORSE latency on console... they just hide the ping value from you.

Peer-2-peer online is perfectly capable on PC (even more so even) just as consoles. It is used so infrequently for very good reasons.

Also, host advantage sucks balls.

Flexibility was never really in the cards for consoles... Why would the producers of the consoles be any more flexible? They're is likely a valid reason for not allowing the DLC via Valve's side.

I agree that a increased ability to navigate servers via Xbox Live would friggin rock, but Microsoft's apparent neutral stance is starting to turn towards the negative. They don't really seem to justify actions, or for that matter, care to explain there "mission statement" with regards to Xbox Live.... Eh, still gonna go to the Xbox for my shooters.

Good article!

Not only that, they charge us, and most games still use a player host based system...

It's not the only bit that's wrong, but it's worth pointing out that community run servers would not have saved Halo 2 from shutdown, because servers were not the issue.

While Halo 2 has a client-server networking model, it doesn't take over until the match is set up, and one of the client Xboxes is chosen as the server. The job of setting things up is handled by Xbox Live's servers (so you can login to your XBL profile on your Xbox) and Bungie's matchmaking servers (that handles playlists and player rankings).

Halo 2 was shut off because changes to Microsoft's XBL service were made that were not being backported to the original Xbox. Online support for all original consoles and original games in emulation was dropped on that day-- regardless of the number of Xbox clients out there that were still potential "community run" servers.

To keep Halo 2 running you wouldn't have needed instances of Halo 2 running, since those were already irrelevant. You'd have needed an emulator of Microsoft's original Xbox Live service running.

That is all aside from the point that community run servers are not actually better, unless you run one yourself. There's no reason to believe the average community moderator would be much better than the average Halo player, considering that you wouldn't run such a server unless you're a player of the game.

The whole point of XBL was to address things that were missing and broken in the dedicated server model, and taking a step backwards makes no sense.

Matching by skill? Can't happen with dedicated servers, since they don't communicate to each other.

Reliable, persistent statistics about all games you've played ever, at a central location so you can review and share? Can't happen with dedicated servers, unless you figure out how to crack open your console and do analysis on your own logfiles. The server logfiles are spread around with the servers. They don't talk to each other, and you have no idea when one will go offline, become unavailable, or be retired. Not to mention that now the developers can't do features like playlists, because the problem of managing optional map packs has now been multiplied by the size of your community moderated server population. Do they have to pay for maps? Do they get them all for free?

All Xbox Live games use Xbox consoles as servers. What are these community servers going to run on? How can individual console owners/XBL subscribers be given the kind of administrative access over multiplayer games running on their console without compromising safety and fairness? Shouldn't server admins be prohibited from playing on their own server, for fear of unfair advantage? If you restrict an admin's access, in what way is it actually a dedicated server?

I'm not really sure what Shamus is really asking Microsoft to do-- and I'm not sure he does, either, beyond a vague sort of nostalgia for the halcyon days of PC gaming where you spent more time looking for servers than actually playing.

What I am sure of, is that there is no way which matters where that model is better than what XBL does.

As for TF2-- Microsoft won't let a rival platform owner (Steam is a platform) distribute content for free through XBL. This is a surprise?

Many have noticed that in order to keep pace, if a publisher gives away something on PS3, they make it free on XBL as well. Of course, Valve has a nice excuse there-- they like PSN, but updating TF2 on PS3 is EA's job. So PC gamers are downloading multiple updates per day (wait, this is an advantage?) and console owners get nothing-- but somehow that's EA's fault and Microsoft's fault, not Valve's fault or Sony's fault, and of course there is no way this is actually just part of a power struggle between Microsoft and Valve over pricing and distribution. No way. Not a bit of it. Shame on you for thinking it.

Atmos Duality:

I've sat around for an hour waiting to start a basic match of Bad Company 2 (on a FIOS connection no less, so it isn't on my end). What am I paying for during that one hour again?

It's unspeakably hilarious that people think dedicated servers will fix this. It will only fix it for the people who run one.

When you're in matchmaking (Halo style) your console and every other console looking for a match in for the same game type (or playlist) is a potential server. The games try to match people's preferences (game type, maps, etc) as well as match for skill (which dedicated servers can't do because there's no authoritative source for this information.)

All those potential hosts are paying per year for the service, and there are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of them waiting to be grouped into parties according to their preferences.

How in the heck is the number of dedicated servers that could be put into play supposed to change this, especially considering the cost would most likely be in excess of-- and in addition to-- the XBL membership fee?

Let's imagine, for a moment, that you run a server. You run it at home, since you have a nice fast connection and reliable power. Your Xbox is going to see that server and use it all the time-- after all, it's running all the time, it runs the playlists, gametypes, and maps you like, and it has the lowest ping.

Now you need players. As far as matchmaking is concerned, all you've done is eliminated your Xbox as a potential host (it's now a client connected to your server) and still needs to match up a certain number of players in order to start a match.

In other words, during the times when a server administrator is looking to play, no number of additional dedicated servers will significantly alter the client:: potential host ratio on the service.

If you used a professional service, with a lot of extra bandwidth, and ran multiple processes, then you might be putting a dent in the problem-- but this is where real money needs to be spent. Halo has hundreds of thousands of players simultaneously, and routinely, and there are plenty of other games on XBL as well.

How many people are willing to pay for a professional server? What's the ratio between the number of processes they can run and the player base? Are dedicated servers supposed to replace the model where Xbox consoles can also serve as hosts? Because that is a LOT of servers.

Let's do a quick comparison.

Top current game on Steam:

COD/MOW2. 30,452 current players, 77,402 peak players for the day.

The next two slots are for CS: Source and CS. #4? Football Manager. #5? TF2 at 20K peak, almost four times smaller than the COD/MOW2 playerbase. At spot #8 the populations drop under five digits.

The total number of concurrent players on Steam when I checked was 166,639.

The aggregate peak-- if we assumed that all games were their busiest during the day at the precise same moment-- which I am sure is not the case-- that would give a figure of 423,851 concurrent players.

On the day of MOW2's launch, XBL supported 2 million concurrent players. 500% more than the theoretical concurrent peak on Steam when I compared, and 1000% more than the actual concurrent figure.

Let's assume that was a really busy day. Today, on Halo 3, the total number of unique players in a 24 hour period was 921,546. That's more than twice the theoretical maximum peak concurrent figure for Steam. Even if you adjust for the difference in calculating the figures (total unique vs total concurrent) there's no comparison, and that is only one game compared to the entire Steam playerbase.

There is absolutely no way there are enough individuals willing to pay for dedicated servers to replace the way XBL works, and there is no way to integrate those servers into the existing populations in a way that is fair. Where Microsoft can make reasonable attempts to police hacked consoles that lead to cheating, there is no conceivable way they can do it for dedicated servers, especially if people take advantage of the features dedicated servers entail-- custom content.

There is a platform that adequately supports all the features offered by dedicated servers and that XBL lacks, and provides free multiplayer. It's called the PC. Not only would I not pay any yearly fee for an XBL that worked with dedicated servers the way you describe, I wouldn't even waste my time with it if it was free-- my time is too valuable.

Treblaine:

Asparagus Brown:
[quote="Treblaine" post="6.231513.8129045"][quote="Asparagus Brown" post="6.231513.8126341"]I don't think dedicated servers on Xbox live is a very good idea at all.

How do you run worldwide leaderboards across multiple servers?

[snip]

Anyway, feel free to inform/correct me on that if there's anything I've said that doesn't add up.

NOPE!

Just because ONE SINGLE SERVER that six people join exist does NOT mean there cannot be an over-arching stat-tracking system covering ALL servers that a game might connect to.

Valve Software's very popular Steam Client lets you connect your game to any server, including servers as small as only 4 players, and with supported games still track all achievements, stats, leader-boards and all that crap. And you don't need to know a thing about how it works for it to happen. Just launch the game (don't even have to insert the disc) and join a muliplayer game.

Because Valve, like Microsoft, runs central servers that the Steam Clients talk to that handle this information. They just do it on a scale that is quite a bit smaller than Xbox Live.

One could think about it this way. Steam is a direct competitor to Xbox Live, in that they offer similar services.

However, the barriers to entry for a Steam gamer are actually higher, on average. While you can make a competent gaming rig for around the price of a console, many gamers who choose the PC as their platform will aim higher than that.

PC games don't target a single hardware platform over a range of 5-10 years, the way console games do, so you'll either upgrade your video hardware more often, or tolerate an aesthetic experience that is degraded compared to what other gamers are getting from the same game.

It is not that surprising that given a smaller pool of potential subscribers who have paid a higher price for entry into the market, Steam would choose to make its online service free-- especially when their direct competiton on the same platform (Windows) has historically had online play for free as well.

Steam is not free because it doesn't cost anything to run. It's free because Valve makes enough margin on games to cover that cost, which is lower in aggregate because there are fewer Steam players than XBL players-- and because Steam needs to be free in order to have a viable player base.

If Steam cost per year what XBL did, how many subscribers would they have tomorrow? Isn't that the real measure of the value of what the two platforms offer-- not which one gives away more for free, but which one people are willing to pay for?

Narcogen:

There is absolutely no way there are enough individuals willing to pay for dedicated servers to replace the way XBL works

By your own figures there are more players on xbl than steam, yet a smaller community can support more dedicated servers?

I don't think anyone is advocating the removal of the current model. Just adding it as an alternative for those that want it.

I've been on-line gaming for 10+ years, mostly on PC. When I first started I just joined random servers, added the ones I like to favourites and blocked the bad ones. I built up friendships with people on-line that simply has not been possible in random matchmaking console gaming. I like the pub metaphor you might try several before you find one you like, so you keep going back.

I pay for a dedicated server along with some of these people I met on-line (non of my real-life friends play much on-line) it gave us control to set our own rules of conduct and play standards. We could also close the serve to the public and play private games. It was in a data centre so ping was good and the server was reliable. In the end we were running about 5-6 different games, most were full all the time.

My gaming time is precious to me I don't want to play with randoms all the time I'd rather pay for a server and enjoy my gaming than have to play with idiots, racists and TK'ers.

Can't see it happening though. Consoles are a closed system, it is all about control. Do MS want you to still be playing Halo1, no they don't they want you to buy reach.

Valve have a good balance between power and community, CS is still going (a free game!) and valve have very much built their business model on the back of such a dedicated community.

Well said sir

Narcogen:

If Steam cost per year what XBL did, how many subscribers would they have tomorrow? Isn't that the real measure of the value of what the two platforms offer-- not which one gives away more for free, but which one people are willing to pay for?

You make an interesting point but I'm afraid your wrong. Xbox live holds your multi player (or at best your online multi player) hostage until you cough up the money steam doesn't.

Narcogen:

Treblaine:

Asparagus Brown:
I don't think dedicated servers on Xbox live is a very good idea at all.
How do you run worldwide leaderboards across multiple servers?
[snip]
Anyway, feel free to inform/correct me on that if there's anything I've said that doesn't add up.

NOPE!

Just because ONE SINGLE SERVER that six people join exist does NOT mean there cannot be an over-arching stat-tracking system covering ALL servers that a game might connect to.

Valve Software's very popular Steam Client lets you connect your game to any server, including servers as small as only 4 players, and with supported games still track all achievements, stats, leader-boards and all that crap. And you don't need to know a thing about how it works for it to happen. Just launch the game (don't even have to insert the disc) and join a muliplayer game.

Because Valve, like Microsoft, runs central servers that the Steam Clients talk to that handle this information. They just do it on a scale that is quite a bit smaller than Xbox Live.

Again:

image

The PEAK number of concurrent (simultaneous at the same time) users logged in Steam for JUST TODAY is over 2.7 million

http://store.steampowered.com/stats/

http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/xbox-live-hits-1-5-million-concurrent-users

http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/xbox-live-hits-2-million-concurrent-users

It seems Xbox Live has yet to hit 2.5 million concurrent users.

http://www.totalpcgaming.com/latest-pc-news/steam-user-accounts-hit-25-million/

http://www.joystiq.com/2010/01/06/xbox-by-the-numbers-20m-xbox-live-users-10m-nongaming-39m-xbo/

XBL also has less users. It seems that of those 20 million accounts (against Steam's 25 million back in 2009) only 50% of which even have gold membership. I sure don't have Gold, it's a rip off.

One could think about it this way. Steam is a direct competitor to Xbox Live, in that they offer similar services.

However, the barriers to entry for a Steam gamer are actually higher, on average. While you can make a competent gaming rig for around the price of a console, many gamers who choose the PC as their platform will aim higher than that.

PC games don't target a single hardware platform over a range of 5-10 years, the way console games do, so you'll either upgrade your video hardware more often, or tolerate an aesthetic experience that is degraded compared to what other gamers are getting from the same game.

It is not that surprising that given a smaller pool of potential subscribers who have paid a higher price for entry into the market, Steam would choose to make its online service free-- especially when their direct competiton on the same platform (Windows) has historically had online play for free as well.

Steam is not free because it doesn't cost anything to run. It's free because Valve makes enough margin on games to cover that cost, which is lower in aggregate because there are fewer Steam players than XBL players-- and because Steam needs to be free in order to have a viable player base.

If Steam cost per year what XBL did, how many subscribers would they have tomorrow? Isn't that the real measure of the value of what the two platforms offer-- not which one gives away more for free, but which one people are willing to pay for?

Not only have you deflected the debate from poor multiplayer networks to a ridiculous straw-man argument about PC gaming but it is completely unfounded argument.

"so you'll either upgrade your video hardware more often, or tolerate an aesthetic experience that is degraded compared to what other gamers are getting from the same game."

LOL! You do realise that console gaming settles for a "degraded aesthetic experience" for almost every game?

Halo 3 (ODST too) is at only a measly 640p, no anti-aliasing with basic textures and low draw distance (good lighting though). All the COD games on both PS3 + 360 have been at only 1024x600 resolution, barely a sliver more pixels than 576p, that's considered Standard Definition resolution.

You'd have to have a SERIOUSLY WEAK rig to be outperformed by an Xbox 360. ANYTHING other than integrated graphics can beat Xbox 360 at the moment. The cheapest graphics card I can find (ATI Radeon HD 4350 for less than $30!) still outperforms the Xbox 360 release of Modern Warfare 2.

But your argument is an OLD argument, has been discussed to death dozens of times before but it is brought up over and over again (to spite disproving all your negative points against PC) every time Xbox 360's perceived "superiority" is in any way challenged. Quickly make up presumptive and nebulous nonsense about how to dismiss PC gaming usually revolving around how some PC's are more expensive than others.

"Steam is not free because it doesn't cost anything to run. It's free because Valve makes enough margin on games to cover that cost"

SAME FOR XBOX LIVE! If either networks cost anything to run it would be a less than a dollar per-user per-YEAR, too small to charge. Millions of other online services don't insult their user's intelligence with crap like it costs $60 per-person-per-year. Also charging for all that premium DLC and taking their cut. All Valve games have free DLC with Steam, yet must be paid for on Xbox Live. It turns a game like Left 4 Dead 2 from costing $60 game to effectively $80 (btw, I got L4D2 for less than $10 in one of the frequent Steam sales). Microsoft is simply being extortionate with their "service" and it is frankly shameful how their fans rationalise and defend it.

(But it MAY not have enough margin from games sales alone to cover the cost of the Xbox 360's incredibly high failure rate and how much they pay for timed exclusives (paid $40 million just to get GTA4 DLC a bit early) and other poor business decisions. But that is Microsoft's fault from poor business strategy, the loyal fans should not have to prop them up. Windows operating system and other services may make Microsoft a profit but I think their Xbox division is still yet to turn a profit.)

Resitance 2 had server browser I think...
Multiplayer seems so much better here on pc but i guess every platform has it's share of beneficts and negatives.

Narcogen:

Atmos Duality:

I've sat around for an hour waiting to start a basic match of Bad Company 2 (on a FIOS connection no less, so it isn't on my end). What am I paying for during that one hour again?

It's unspeakably hilarious that people think dedicated servers will fix this. It will only fix it for the people who run one.

That's part of my point.
If that 60 dollars is going towards something, why not some sort of network reliability incentives?

I used to help run private dedicated servers back in the yonder days of 56k Only; very different market but the same concept in terms of networking. I have a college degree in network engineering, so I understand perfectly well what sort of problem that's going on here.

It's that most of these companies are now refusing to put the matchmaking/server platforming software into the game to force you onto their system and they do this for a variety of reasons:
Primarily as an anti-piracy measure to make it harder to reverse-engineer the LAN support into say, a Hamachi-client. But they also gather gameplay statistics/feedback for development, and marketing info for future advertising endeavors.

The result? They build a game so heavily around multiplayer, but their servers are overtaxed to the point that the multiplayer only works for a few. Demand exceeds supply as it were, but there's absolutely no further incentive for the publisher to front for more servers because they aren't getting anything extra for it (it's so easy to shift blame in the networking world, let me tell you), and Microsoft will want a piece of the action because it's on their network.

This is why I ask "What is that 60 bucks going toward? The Overworked-Microsoft-Network-Engineer Fund?"

However, at the same time, the publisher is refusing the player base to legally provide any sort of solution and now we hit impasse'.

I can think of few reasons why a company would force a stalemate on this sort of situation, primarily future plans that force the players to subscribe to a new service IN ADDITION to what they already pay for on Xbox Live.

That's right, it will become similar to the old "PC business model", only players will have no legal choice in the matter; the publisher has set up their monopoly and wring the players for far more than what it would cost to host privately even if they wanted that option.

And here's the truly silly part in all of this: If it weren't for Microsoft's middle-man shenanigans, Xbox Live Gold wouldn't even be necessary.

My point here: Nevermind the numbers, the system has boxed itself into an unwinnable situation no matter what simply due to poor planning compounded by paranoia and greed.

not surprised by this TBH, PC is all about customization of every little thing on it, with an Xbox you'll get banned from XBL for modding your Xbox just to use a 3rd party hard drive, there's just too much leash pulling on microsoft's part

I'll drink to this proposal! Cheers!

and this marks my 300th post. I'll try to resist yelling "this is sparta".

"But since the big publishers seem hell-bent on making everything, everything multiplayer, all the time, everywhere, then it would be nice if the multiplayer functionality was at least as good as it was on PC's in the 1990's."

Hear hear!

Even though I am a Gold Membership subscriber, this has always been my problem with console online multiplayer, PC's had equal or better online functionality nearly A DECADE AND A HALF ago.

Woodsey:

Not to mention that I don't see why I should be paying more to unlock the other half of my games. I think 360-exclusive users would be in for a bit of a (pleasant) shock if they got a chance to use Steam.

That's a bullshit argument quite frankly. DLC is a business model not an XBL model. If XBox games came out with "the other half of the game" to begin with there wouldn't be a need to buy anything else.

Similarly if Valve had included this "free content" in the original release in the first place, this argument would be pointless.

And considering that Valve is basically running a service that competes with XBox live, one that provides demos and content and a service through which games can be purchased I frankly don't think their voice has any weight to it. It's pretty much the same as Sony saying XBL sucks.

Treblaine:

Macflash:
snip.

You get just as bad and WORSE latency on console... they just hide the ping value from you.

Peer-2-peer online is perfectly capable on PC (even more so even) just as consoles. It is used so infrequently for very good reasons.

Also, host advantage sucks balls.

Latency will always be an issue, but host advantage is really just having a good connection to the host advantage. If you happen to be near the server you'll always have that split second advantage. Of course (aside from gears of war) I can count the number of really laggy games on my two hands, so lag has never been an issue for me on consoles, unlike on PC games.

From what I understand the price hike doesn't affect me and my friends in New Zealand, but then again, we don't get half the stuff you guys do in the states, so to me, a price hike makes sense. At least we won't be paying the same for less now.

Microsoft capturing a section of the market and then using the position to make money while neglecting and abandoning the servicing of that market?

whodathunkit?

Macflash:

Treblaine:

Macflash:
snip.

You get just as bad and WORSE latency on console... they just hide the ping value from you.

Peer-2-peer online is perfectly capable on PC (even more so even) just as consoles. It is used so infrequently for very good reasons.

Also, host advantage sucks balls.

Latency will always be an issue, but host advantage is really just having a good connection to the host advantage. If you happen to be near the server you'll always have that split second advantage. Of course (aside from gears of war) I can count the number of really laggy games on my two hands, so lag has never been an issue for me on consoles, unlike on PC games.

Latency is hidden on those, by concealing the actual ping numbers and incredibly invasive latency compensation that just leads to weird stuff happening.

On PC you don't HAVE to join a high-lag server... but with console the choice is made for you.

Treblaine:
Snip

I love this man, thank you for shutting them up doing for me what I was going to do.

I play CS:S on a regular basis, on from what I've noticed, on average, more people still play CS:S than MW2. Granted some days MW2 is higher in players, but I did say "On average".

Treblaine:
XBL also has less users. It seems that of those 20 million accounts (against Steam's 25 million back in 2009) only 50% of which even have gold membership. I sure don't have Gold, it's a rip off.]

I can't be bothered to add more arguments in this thread. I just want to point out that information is wrong.

There are around 40 million Xboxs and only half of them are on live.

There are between 19 and 20 million Gold Live accounts.

So your numbers are approximately 10 million off.

GamesB2:

Treblaine:
XBL also has less users. It seems that of those 20 million accounts (against Steam's 25 million back in 2009) only 50% of which even have gold membership. I sure don't have Gold, it's a rip off.]

I can't be bothered to add more arguments in this thread. I just want to point out that information is wrong.

There are around 40 million Xboxs and only half of them are on live.

There are between 19 and 20 million Gold Live accounts.

So your numbers are approximately 10 million off.

Where are you getting your stats from?

Furthermore, what people would like is the option to have a dedicated server, not that the system needs to be completely replaced. This is also good in case the plug gets pulled on whatever matchmaking system they have running.

All that crap about stat tracking and play habits information is something I find doesn't really contribute to the actual game. In most games the only thing the stats have reliably tracked was how long you've been playing. This was true for Halo and especially for a game like SSF4 where I beat 15000BP Ryu players easily yet get beaten by 500BP Sakuras doing crazy reset shenanigans.

Macflash:

Treblaine:

Macflash:
snip.

You get just as bad and WORSE latency on console... they just hide the ping value from you.

Peer-2-peer online is perfectly capable on PC (even more so even) just as consoles. It is used so infrequently for very good reasons.

Also, host advantage sucks balls.

Latency will always be an issue, but host advantage is really just having a good connection to the host advantage. If you happen to be near the server you'll always have that split second advantage. Of course (aside from gears of war) I can count the number of really laggy games on my two hands, so lag has never been an issue for me on consoles, unlike on PC games.

If you happen to be near the server, sure, but if your game console is running the server, it opens a whole new can of worms. Lag switches are a relatively new phenomenon that can be directly attributed to this new P2P wonderland.

Woe Is You:
Where are you getting your stats from?

Furthermore, what people would like is the option to have a dedicated server, not that the system needs to be completely replaced. This is also good in case the plug gets pulled on whatever matchmaking system they have running.

All that crap about stat tracking and play habits information is something I find doesn't really contribute to the actual game. In most games the only thing the stats have reliably tracked was how long you've been playing. This was true for Halo and especially for a game like SSF4 where I beat 15000BP Ryu players easily yet get beaten by 500BP Sakuras doing crazy reset shenanigans.

God knows I read this a while ago...

Still I remember the number being around 19 million people on Live and twice that with Xbox.

It may have been one of the Xbox 360 magazines I own. I have too many to sort through them for one article.

Also the other stuff about dedicated servers... I wouldn't use them so I'm not bothered.

But Microsoft have a good service with a restricted but guided online. I'm fine with it staying like that.

Akalabeth:

Woodsey:

Not to mention that I don't see why I should be paying more to unlock the other half of my games. I think 360-exclusive users would be in for a bit of a (pleasant) shock if they got a chance to use Steam.

That's a bullshit argument quite frankly. DLC is a business model not an XBL model. If XBox games came out with "the other half of the game" to begin with there wouldn't be a need to buy anything else.

Similarly if Valve had included this "free content" in the original release in the first place, this argument would be pointless.

And considering that Valve is basically running a service that competes with XBox live, one that provides demos and content and a service through which games can be purchased I frankly don't think their voice has any weight to it. It's pretty much the same as Sony saying XBL sucks.

I meant multiplayer, not DLC.

So... basicly PC is better than Xbox 360? Yes thank you very much =)

There's no need to go all rebuilding and stuff, just switch to PC and voila! No problems, sure it might not be that easy if you don't have a pc that can run games like tf2 (and tf2 can run on decently low-end pc's). Why try and convince a fricken' mountain to move and jump through burning hoops when you can switch platform.

Macflash:
If players had to run their servers, they'd just be like the servers in PC games. Laggy, annoying, and formidable to the unexperienced player. Say you want to find play a game, you've had a long day. You sit down to play your favorite console game, and to find a match you have to sift through lists of thousands of servers to try to find one playing a game settings you like that has a decent ping and might have people of your same skill level, and then the countless other factors. Or you just want to be in a game with your friends, you don't want to deal with finding a server with room for all of you and a place where you can be on the same team, that has a good ping for all your friends, etc.

Basically, if you want dedicated self run servers, go play a PC game. Servers have more customization options there, you can run custom mods which are impossible on the Xbox, because they won't allow you to download the necessary files and whatnot. And you can play there for free.

I will stick to letting the Microsoft servers find me a nice multiplayer match, so I can focus on shooting random strangers in their virtual face.

This strange connection between matchmaking and p2p is made everywhere in this thread, but it doesn't exist. Matchmaking is not a result of xboxlive nor the technology it uses. There really are only disadvantages to banning dedicated servers, not in the least because you can always still allow local hosts. I don't get why people are arguing over that part of the article, it's like arguing if gravity points up or down, it is an undeniable fact.

But on the Xbox side, there aren't dedicated moderators for each and every server, and Microsoft wisely is staying out of the business of encouraging good manners. Which means every game will always sink to the lowest common denominator. People (myself included) often make fun of the stereotypical bratty Xbox hellion. But the truth is that I doubt there's all that much difference between Xbox and PC players. It's just that PC servers have moderators.

Oh come on... you know there is a difference, consoles are targetted at adolescents of all kind whose parents can afford forking out the few hundreds at christmas or on their birthday... PCs are more usage machines that aren't mainly used for gaming by most people but also and chances are that if you managed getting through an Install dialog (choosing where to install the game, pressing next and managing to use the .exe file or a shortcut thereof) and generally own (or have built) a computer you aren't just some illiterate brat that uses it for nothing else than "pleyin Helo".
It might be a stereotype, but everyone knows that stereotypes have to come from somewhere...

Obviously Xbox Live works differently than the PC world. Microsoft has to pay for bandwidth and run the servers, so we do expect them to charge something for that. But their system could be better (an more profitable) if they gave players the tools to run the show themselves.

Do we? I personally don't... but then again I don't plan on buying a console (aside of handhelds) anytime soon and a big part of why I made that decision is things like this... the restrictions they can impose on their "platform" and the greed and near-sightedness they reveal (along with a lot more expensive games and them taking a cut on every game, forcing "paid DLC" and stuff like that).

You've said it yourself... Steam doesn't cost anything and it takes even less money from the developers (last time I heard Microsoft takes something between 25-35% off all digital sales on XBLA... that right there should already pay for that "bandwidth" and then some like it does for Steam, not to mention their Virtual item sales) selling their products over Steam doesn't require "upkeep" payments and it probably has a higher bandwidth requirement (seeing as you have to be Online to play and it auto-updates every game installed aswell as it being a pure "download service" not a service working mostly with retail copies like XBox Live).
http://store.steampowered.com/stats/content/

Very similar to XBL it also doesn't offer "dedicated game servers" of its own (aside of maybe a few for their own games), and there's hardly any expense in setting up P2P connections between people and a lot of drawbacks (ranging from random disconnects, lag, spikes, host-advantage etc.)
That "bandwidth" isn't as expensive as they'd like to make one believe either...

Overall, the article could have been a little more agressive, because people are getting the shaft on XBL compared to other platforms, and that only because there is no other choice being such a closed-off and carefully protected "platform".

You're basically paying them for generously allowing you to play/make use of the games you already paid (the publishers, multiplayer being a part of them) for and to further be allowed in partaking at the viewing of advertisement e.g. Netflix, LastFM, Fakebook etc. They're all free on the PC and they should actually pay you (instead of Microsoft, it's probably another nice revenue stream) for being represented on a platform with millions of users as a target instead of demanding more money from the customers.

At least that's the way it worked in the past whenever they put a billboard somewhere... the companies had to pay for it being there and people being able to see them... I wonder when it turned to people paying for the priviledge of being able to see it instead.

GamesB2:

Treblaine:
XBL also has less users. It seems that of those 20 million accounts (against Steam's 25 million back in 2009) only 50% of which even have gold membership. I sure don't have Gold, it's a rip off.]

I can't be bothered to add more arguments in this thread. I just want to point out that information is wrong.

There are around 40 million Xboxs and only half of them are on live.

There are between 19 and 20 million Gold Live accounts.

So your numbers are approximately 10 million off.

So in summary:

-don't want to be "add" more argument
-yet cite "statistics" with no source nor even logic.

I mean you claim over 95% of people who have even created an Xbox Live account (default silver) are paying Gold Members?!?!? HA! No way, not even if it was just $1 per year 20% are too lazy to even reach for a credit card, even more are turned away by the so high actual pricing.

"So your numbers are approximately 10 million off."

Actually, turns out I was almost dead on as was so quickly pointed out to you. But when you are MAKING UP FIGURES ON THE SPOT, how can I possibly match the "numbers" you are imagining in your head? I don't buy it that you "read it in a magazine somewhere" I think you simply Assumed that everyone who can pay for XBL Gold therefore would!

Nope.

XBL's premium pricing is the EXCEPTION amongst all other gaming networks from the very earliest days of PC and Dreamcast to PS3 and Wii. Anyone with experience with any of those would be extremely reluctant to fork over for any such service.

Your complacency - paying and acting content about it - is dragging this industry down, particularly your own platform. Show a bit of backbone and at least state where you would draw the line. Xbox Fans are pushovers, Sony fans complained bitterly and endlessly about Sony till they go their shit together with PS3... now MS is walking all over you, Kinect's utter dismissal of the core audience should be the final straw. That and the mass exodus of talent from Microsoft's studios (Bungie leaving, Bizarre gone, Epic Staying out, Rare crippled and Ensemble Studios liquidated), if Xbox fans spent a little less time being so defensive and a bit more time giving MS even half the shit they deserve then maybe the company would buck their ideas up.

Treblaine:
So in summary:

-don't want to be "add" more argument
-yet cite "statistics" with no source nor even logic.

I mean you claim over 95% of people who have even created an Xbox Live account (default silver) are paying Gold Members?!?!? HA! No way, not even if it was just $1 per year 20% are too lazy to even reach for a credit card, even more are turned away by the so high actual pricing.

"So your numbers are approximately 10 million off."

Actually, turns out I was almost dead on as was so quickly pointed out to you. But when you are MAKING UP FIGURES ON THE SPOT, how can I possibly match the "numbers" you are imagining in your head? I don't buy it that you "read it in a magazine somewhere" I think you simply Assumed that everyone who can pay for XBL Gold therefore would!

Nope.

XBL's premium pricing is the EXCEPTION amongst all other gaming networks from the very earliest days of PC and Dreamcast to PS3 and Wii. Anyone with experience with any of those would be extremely reluctant to fork over for any such service.

Your complacency - paying and acting content about it - is dragging this industry down, particularly your own platform. Show a bit of backbone and at least state where you would draw the line. Xbox Fans are pushovers, Sony fans complained bitterly and endlessly about Sony till they go their shit together with PS3... now MS is walking all over you, Kinect's utter dismissal of the core audience should be the final straw. That and the mass exodus of talent from Microsoft's studios (Bungie leaving, Bizarre gone, Epic Staying out, Rare crippled and Ensemble Studios liquidated), if Xbox fans spent a little less time being so defensive and a bit more time giving MS even half the shit they deserve then maybe the company would buck their ideas up.

Urgh I have to wade through a wall of text filled with superiority and smugness... wonderful.

I don't want to add more argument since I've argued my point enough in this thread... I'm merely suggesting your statistics may be wrong as I have read contesting statistics elsewhere and from an arguably more reliable source.

Okay when I said Live originally I meant Gold Live. Yes I realise I didn't make that clear but you don't earn brownie points for calling me out on it.

I'm not making up figures on the spot if I have read them from a source. I would go and find it but I recently gave away a whole load of my 360 magazines to my ICT teacher so I find it unlikely I have the article anymore.

Now this argument may be disjointed so bear with it.

Why would I care about Kinect? Yeah it ignores core audience, but then again it's pretty much doomed to fail from the start. I see only two happy endings here.
Numero uno; Kinect fails, Microsoft lose money, the penny finally fucking drops, they scrap motion controls for another 6ish years.
Numero dos; Kinect is a massive success, it's fun, people buy into it, larger developers go 'Oh shit they're making money we want to too!', higher quality Kinect games come out while a slight but not significant decline in other games come out, (cause there's way too many FPSs anyway).

I'm kind of confused at the next bit. Bungie leaving... well yeah that's cause they don't want to be tied down as a first party developer. They left to spread games to the PS3 as well. I see no problem with that, they want to reach out to a broader audience.
I don't know who Bizzare are so I can't comment.
Epic are releasing Gears Of War... enough said.
I don't understand the whole Rare crippled thing? Yeah they're working on shit at the moment but that's most likely cause their last few games scored badly among fans... so now they have to do grunt work to make some money before they can do anything worthwhile again.
I miss Ensemble :/ I'll give you that one. Robot and that other company I constantly forget the name of have turned up though. They look fairly promising.

I happen to like my complacency... I'm complacent because I see no reason not to be. There are a few things I disagree with with Microsoft but all in all I have an excellent online service with some amazing games and a few extra features that are hit and miss but generally kinda cool.

I'll start giving MS shit when I personally feel they deserve it. You feel they deserve it? Fine give them shit but don't start condemning me as 'dragging this industry down'. I support devs... I don't give two shits about the people running the platform. When it's not worth my time and money I will stop investing in a yearly subscription..

kingmob:

Macflash:
snippy

This strange connection between matchmaking and p2p is made everywhere in this thread, but it doesn't exist. Matchmaking is not a result of xboxlive nor the technology it uses. There really are only disadvantages to banning dedicated servers, not in the least because you can always still allow local hosts. I don't get why people are arguing over that part of the article, it's like arguing if gravity points up or down, it is an undeniable fact.

yes, but I've never seen a game that combines matchmaking(ala trueskill type matching) with dedicated servers. I think the main thing with dedicated servers that are provided from the game maker, would be that it costs more to keep the servers running than just the matchmaking or server list capabilities. So a console game with no hosting servers can last longer than one with them. Of course if you allow people to host their own servers for console games it's much more complicated. You'd have to create a brand new structure and way to integrate it into the Xbox live service. It'd be a huge feat for just one developer to pull off.

Personally, I don't understand why some people get all misty eyed over dedicated servers. It must be more of an issue for people with poorer internet connections, or really long distance matches.

Treblaine:

Macflash:

Treblaine:

Macflash:
snip.

snip

snip

Latency is hidden on those, by concealing the actual ping numbers and incredibly invasive latency compensation that just leads to weird stuff happening.

On PC you don't HAVE to join a high-lag server... but with console the choice is made for you.

Yes it is, and I don't really mind that, because, from my experience, it usually finds a match with a good connection (or at least one that doesn't hinder the experience or my enjoyment ofthe game). But I guess I must be the weird exception for this forum. The one person blessed by the good fortune of not having massive lag problems on a console.

Treblaine:

Narcogen:

Treblaine:

Asparagus Brown:
I don't think dedicated servers on Xbox live is a very good idea at all.
How do you run worldwide leaderboards across multiple servers?
[snip]
Anyway, feel free to inform/correct me on that if there's anything I've said that doesn't add up.

NOPE!

Just because ONE SINGLE SERVER that six people join exist does NOT mean there cannot be an over-arching stat-tracking system covering ALL servers that a game might connect to.

Valve Software's very popular Steam Client lets you connect your game to any server, including servers as small as only 4 players, and with supported games still track all achievements, stats, leader-boards and all that crap. And you don't need to know a thing about how it works for it to happen. Just launch the game (don't even have to insert the disc) and join a muliplayer game.

Because Valve, like Microsoft, runs central servers that the Steam Clients talk to that handle this information. They just do it on a scale that is quite a bit smaller than Xbox Live.

Again:

image

The PEAK number of concurrent (simultaneous at the same time) users logged in Steam for JUST TODAY is over 2.7 million

http://store.steampowered.com/stats/

http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/xbox-live-hits-1-5-million-concurrent-users

http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/xbox-live-hits-2-million-concurrent-users

It seems Xbox Live has yet to hit 2.5 million concurrent users.

http://www.totalpcgaming.com/latest-pc-news/steam-user-accounts-hit-25-million/

http://www.joystiq.com/2010/01/06/xbox-by-the-numbers-20m-xbox-live-users-10m-nongaming-39m-xbo/

XBL also has less users. It seems that of those 20 million accounts (against Steam's 25 million back in 2009) only 50% of which even have gold membership. I sure don't have Gold, it's a rip off.

One could think about it this way. Steam is a direct competitor to Xbox Live, in that they offer similar services.

However, the barriers to entry for a Steam gamer are actually higher, on average. While you can make a competent gaming rig for around the price of a console, many gamers who choose the PC as their platform will aim higher than that.

PC games don't target a single hardware platform over a range of 5-10 years, the way console games do, so you'll either upgrade your video hardware more often, or tolerate an aesthetic experience that is degraded compared to what other gamers are getting from the same game.

It is not that surprising that given a smaller pool of potential subscribers who have paid a higher price for entry into the market, Steam would choose to make its online service free-- especially when their direct competiton on the same platform (Windows) has historically had online play for free as well.

Steam is not free because it doesn't cost anything to run. It's free because Valve makes enough margin on games to cover that cost, which is lower in aggregate because there are fewer Steam players than XBL players-- and because Steam needs to be free in order to have a viable player base.

If Steam cost per year what XBL did, how many subscribers would they have tomorrow? Isn't that the real measure of the value of what the two platforms offer-- not which one gives away more for free, but which one people are willing to pay for?

Not only have you deflected the debate from poor multiplayer networks to a ridiculous straw-man argument about PC gaming but it is completely unfounded argument.

"so you'll either upgrade your video hardware more often, or tolerate an aesthetic experience that is degraded compared to what other gamers are getting from the same game."

LOL! You do realise that console gaming settles for a "degraded aesthetic experience" for almost every game?

Halo 3 (ODST too) is at only a measly 640p, no anti-aliasing with basic textures and low draw distance (good lighting though). All the COD games on both PS3 + 360 have been at only 1024x600 resolution, barely a sliver more pixels than 576p, that's considered Standard Definition resolution.

You'd have to have a SERIOUSLY WEAK rig to be outperformed by an Xbox 360. ANYTHING other than integrated graphics can beat Xbox 360 at the moment. The cheapest graphics card I can find (ATI Radeon HD 4350 for less than $30!) still outperforms the Xbox 360 release of Modern Warfare 2.

But your argument is an OLD argument, has been discussed to death dozens of times before but it is brought up over and over again (to spite disproving all your negative points against PC) every time Xbox 360's perceived "superiority" is in any way challenged. Quickly make up presumptive and nebulous nonsense about how to dismiss PC gaming usually revolving around how some PC's are more expensive than others.

"Steam is not free because it doesn't cost anything to run. It's free because Valve makes enough margin on games to cover that cost"

SAME FOR XBOX LIVE! If either networks cost anything to run it would be a less than a dollar per-user per-YEAR, too small to charge. Millions of other online services don't insult their user's intelligence with crap like it costs $60 per-person-per-year. Also charging for all that premium DLC and taking their cut. All Valve games have free DLC with Steam, yet must be paid for on Xbox Live. It turns a game like Left 4 Dead 2 from costing $60 game to effectively $80 (btw, I got L4D2 for less than $10 in one of the frequent Steam sales). Microsoft is simply being extortionate with their "service" and it is frankly shameful how their fans rationalise and defend it.

(But it MAY not have enough margin from games sales alone to cover the cost of the Xbox 360's incredibly high failure rate and how much they pay for timed exclusives (paid $40 million just to get GTA4 DLC a bit early) and other poor business decisions. But that is Microsoft's fault from poor business strategy, the loyal fans should not have to prop them up. Windows operating system and other services may make Microsoft a profit but I think their Xbox division is still yet to turn a profit.)

The Xbox Live figures are for players. Not subscribers. Players. The Steam figures you are quoting are "users logged into Steam". That's not players, that's people interacting with the Steam client, not people in a game. Users. Not players. They are careful and exact in the word they choose. The pages I cited are Steam's actual player counts, not user counts. They are not the same. If you want to compare Steam users to something, compare that to all users on XBL, including Silver users, because Silver, like Steam, is free.

Second, Steam is not a subscription service-- it's free. There is no barrier to entry, which means the decision to sign up for Steam, or to login to it to browse the store, is extremely low. It's a very low level of commitment, and the statistics bear that out-- lots of people sign up, but relatively few people are actually playing at any given time. Look again at that page. The top is "concurrent Steam users" and it fluctuates between 1 and 2.7M. You'd have to compare that to the number of concurrently connected Xbox consoles that have at least one silver or gold account and login at startup. Unfortunately MS doesn't release these figures, but it hardly seems reasonable for me to suppose that less than 15% of all connected users power up the console at least once a day. That would put the *average* number of concurrent users (Gold & Silver) on a par with Steam's *peak* concurrent users.

Below that is "top games by current player count" along with peaks. The total of all the peak concurrent players for the top 100 games is a mere 370,389. Compare that to the user peak for the past 48 hours, which was 2.75M, and that means that in any given 48 hour period, if we assume that the user and player counts peak at the same time, only about 13% or so of "connected users" are actually playing a game. It's quite possible that they've never even bought a game through Steam-- since signing up for Steam and logging in is free (just like XBL Silver).

The other figures you cite-- 20M users for XBL, around 50% for Gold subscriptions-- actually make your case much worse, not better. Frankly I wasn't sure the community was quite that large yet, but I'll take your word for it. That means that out of the potential player base of XBL (10M gold subscribers) the concurrent peak was 2M users, or 20% of the entire population. We'll probably see that peak higher with the release of Halo: Reach.

There is absolutely no sense in which the peak concurrent playerbase for all Steams aggregated are comparable to the similar figures for the most popular XBL games, to say absolutely nothing of the service as a whole, or even the PSN playerbase. There is no sense in which the dedicated server model scales to the sizes needed to serve the online console market.

Zachary Amaranth:
Burnout Paradise had a ton of free content released in patches..

I bet you ANYTHING that the reason it was allowed to be given out for free was because of the in-game store features it added with the rest of the content makeover the game received. Valve has not offered anything in-game to allow the flow of more money with their updates.

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