"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?
Actually, no. You are misconstruing my use of the word "degraded", where I intentionally used a comparative rather than an absolute.
No gamer's aesthetic experience on a console is "degraded" compared to other users on that console, excepting differences in displays. The console itself doesn't matter. This point was relative to the development target being the same, especially with regard to multiplayer. Aside from distinctions between SD and HD displays (which are admittedly significant) console developers have reasonable expectations that the graphical capabilities of every user's console are equivalent.
Yes, the console experience is "degraded" compared to a mid to high range PC game, but that's largely a hypothetical argument. Very few games allow multiplayer directly between PC and console clients. There are simply too many balance issues. The point was that the graphical differential doesn't exist between console clients. PC gamers in a multiplayer game can be in the same game on the same server and be having wildly different aesthetic experiences, due to differences both in displays used and hardware capabilities.
That I find frankly communistic:
Is that supposed to be a refutation?
"we may all have a shit experience but at least we all have an EQUALLY shit experience"
That's all relative. Your "s***" is my "more than good enough".
Except of course Host-advantage. Might I add that you extraordinary tech illiteracy is GLARINGLY OBVIOUS when you talk of peer-to-peer multiplayer being anything over than the far inferior to the Client-server model for actual CONSUMER SATISFACTION!
I don't think I'm the one guilty of extraordinary tech illiteracy here. No game on Xbox Live uses a peer to peer model that I'm aware of. They use a client-server model where one console is designated as a server, and the others act as clients. If the host drops or the game splits, a new console is chosen as the host, and the system attempts to reconnect to the remaining clients.
This is not a peer to peer architecture. There are few games that actually use a true peer to peer architecture (a ring) and none that I can think of on Xbox Live-- or Steam, for that matter.
Host Advantage comes from one player being on the server. This happens in any game on XBL, but also in PC games where one player runs a client on a server machine. It only doesn't happen in dedicated server scenarios, but that was covered elsewhere in the thread. The upshot
Stop kissing Xbox's ass, this isn't about how peer-to-peer is cheaper and easier to exploit, this is about the gamers.
Because you say it is? I've no reason to kiss Xbox's anything-- I pay for my subscription and that's enough, thanks. I'm not painting MS as lily white, I'm just saying there are decent reasons why the service is the way it is and why people are willing to use it as it is, which I think is a far more reasonable conclusion than assuming they've somehow all been magically hypnotized, or that some dark conspiracy has prevented them from becoming aware of the wonderful white magic that is Steam.
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.
I don't really care about any of that, though. I don't get a thrill out of knowing how many pixels I'm pushing, or whether I'm pushing more pixels than the guy next to me, or if I'm pushing more pixels than I was last week or last month. You've just missed my point entirely, which was that while console may compromise on the maximum quality they can generate, they generate that same quality for everyone and at a lower price point and with less inconvenience than on a PC. I used to be a PC gamer. When my hobby switched from being "tinkering with gaming equipment" to "playing a game once in awhile when I have a chance" the console was the way to go. Before I bought the original Xbox, the last console I'd owned was the Atari 2600.
Oh your tech illiteracy AGAIN shows you out. Resolution is not a pointless statistic is has HUGE SIGNIFICANCE of the aesthetic quality of games
This is not a matter of fact which can be determined mathematically. While one can certainly say that all things being equal, more pixels are usually better, the problem is that all things are never equal. If you have to trade off pixels to add anti-aliasing, that may be worth it. If you have to reduce the size of a frame buffer to get more texture passes, that may be worth it. If you have a large subscriber base still using standard definition televisions, 720p may be a reasonable compromise between the holy grail of 1080p/60 and standard NTSC 525i.
There are no absolutes here. A game engine with a high resolution can still be ugly, and a game with a lower resolution can be beautiful with assets made by competent artists working within the limitations of the medium.
If I look at an Xbox game and a PC game and recognize that one does look better than the other, but that the difference is not large enough to matter to me, that's a personal preference, not a matter of technical fact.
"while console may compromise on the maximum quality they can generate, they generate that same quality for everyone and at a lower price point"
Are you kidding? Or do you ACTUALLY believe that? You even contradict yourself in the same sentence with "compromised quality" then "same quality" but it's you GALL to say 360 offers a good price
I'm forced to conclude that you are again, on the same point, deliberately misreading my statement.
"same quality for everyone" means that all consoles produce the same quality as each other, not that consoles generate the same quality as gaming PCs.
Xbox 360 cost a fucking extortionate amount:
-$50 per year since 2005, $60 from now till 2015 = $550 = this MORE THAN covers incremental PC upgrade costs
-Overpriced proprietary peripherals over lifetime like: Wifi adapter, Hard Drives 5x ordinary price, wireless headset, and not forgetting the $150 Kinect or abandoned peripherals like 360-camera or HD-DVD drive.
-Replacing the unavoidable RROD out of warranty consoles over a 10 year cycle
-Premium DLC: usually free on competing platforms like PC. Just read what Valve has to say about this.
-Overpriced games both boxed and especially on XBLA usually 2x what they cost on any PC DLC service like Steam, GOG, EA.store, etc
Xbox 360 overall costs more than a potent gaming PC yet does FAR less and to utilise many of the services (like netflix) you need a PC to use anyway.
If you consider $50 (or even $60 a year) an extortionate amount, I guess I don't know what to say. For me it's an extremely small price for what I get. It is true that most (but not all) of what it gives me I could get from PSN or Steam, but I've no particular interest in the stable of games on the PlayStation, and no interest in playing games in my office in front of the computer instead of in the living room, in front of the projector, where the surround sound system is. I'm also not sure I need a secondary PC in the living room, either, when the 360 does what for me is a more than adquate job of gaming and a few other specific activities.
The wifi adapter? Don't have it or need it, I use wired connections only for gaming and media streaming.
The hard drive? Ok, granted, you've got me here-- MS puts an astounding markup on aftermarket hard drives that I find hard to swallow. It's usually better to just upgrade the console and either sell the old one or give it away than to buy an upgraded hard drive.
Wireless headset? What's that got to do with it. I think if I wanted one for my PC I'd have to buy that separately as well. As it is, I don't have one, nor do I feel the need for one. If I did, I doubt cost would be a particular obstacle.
Who mentioned Kinect? What's Kinect got to do with it? I've no interest in that, or in HD-DVD, nor did I refer to either of these peripherals, since we were talking about XBL in specific and consoles in general.
If you're now just trying to push the usual "PC gaming is real gaming" agenda that's fine, but it just doesn't interest me anymore. I've put gaming into the living room, which is where it fits for me, and I get fair value for what I consider a fair price. If you consider that you think you're getting better value for your money with a different approach-- good on you. However, I see no particular reason to advance an agenda that XBL's business model and network multiplayer should work more like Steam.
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.
...and your point is?
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.
Actually I haven't alleged that the Xbox is superior to anything. It happens to be the console I own because it plays games I want to play.
I will say that once you leave the niche market of people who like tinkering with gaming rigs, as you put it, the way Xbox Live handles online play is superior to the traditional server browser, and generally on a par with the way Steam works (which borrows extensively from XBL for many of its features).
You think because you used a Mac back in the 90's you know ANYTHING about PC?
No, these are separate facts. I build my own PCs, but I also own Macs. I've used PCs back to the original IBM PC and the Compaq luggable, and Macs since they were introduced, as well as a fair selection of 8 bit machines from Atari and Commodore.
Back when Bungie developed for the Mac, I played their games on Macs, because those were the machines they developed for. Later they made games for Windows and Mac, but after that they switched to Xbox. I like their games, so I bought an Xbox.
"tinkering" is a smaller and far less frequent problem than hanging on premium-rate support lies to fix faulty Xbox 360s or dealing with 360 chewing it's own discs (which has proven to happen even with careful use in a house with normal vibrations like walking near a running console.
How frequently a problem occurs is only part of the issue, though. For someone capable of building, troubleshooting and fixing their own PCs, having a broken console is certainly more frustrating, because it's largely designed not to be user-serviceable-- which means calls to support. There is absolutely no refuting Microsoft's legendarily bad reliability record with the 360, which certainly does take what is supposed to be a trouble-free solution for gaming and turn it into a lot of trouble.
I've had two consoles fail on me-- one red ring and one E74. Both repaired under warranty. I never had to pay for tech support, and both were replaced for free, under warranty. I'm certain some people have had support just as good, and others much, much worse.
That doesn't mean that PC gaming, regardless of how much or how little tinkering is involved, is a better solution for everyone who owns a console. However many times an Xbox fails, you always know who has to solve the problem, and where you have to call. When there's some problem with a PC game, where does the problem lie? With the operating system? With the PC itself? What about the video card, or maybe the video card driver? The gamer has several different possible sources of help-- the PC manufacturer, if he bought it preassembled, Microsoft for Windows-related issues, the game developer/publisher for issues related to the game, the video card vendor for driver issues, and various forums related to one or more of these communities, and possibly (just possibly) the retailer he bought the rig from.
I can certainly guess that for people who can't or don't troubleshoot their own PCs (either for a living or a hobby) there is some attraction to a model where you can reasonably expect things to work out of the box, and if they don't, there are fewer points of contact to get an answer from. That convenience may be worth a premium for those who either can't handle these issues on their own, or simply don't want to.
Steam was launched in 2003... back when Xbox Live didn't even have a home-page and was little more than an internet protocol. There is as much inspiration from Steam.
Xbox Live launched in November 2002 in its early form. Xbox Live is not an "internet protocol". I'm not sure what you mean by that. While certainly more primitive in scope and execution, the kernel of what XBL is now was intact: the idea of a single, game-independent monolithic friends list, with integrated messaging and invitations.
Wikipedia says this about Steam's early history:
"It was revealed to the public on 22 March 2002 at the Game Developers Conference, and was presented purely as a distribution network."
Steam was actually launched with Counter-Strike 1.6, in September 2003, almost a full year after the commercial launch of Xbox Live.
Steam was initially designed to do, as its core function, to operate as a store for Valve games, because digital distribution is much more profitable for Valve-- and that's great. They make great games, they deserve to make more of the money on them.
Digital distribution came quite a bit later to XBL. XBL was designed, at its core, to propose the idea that what gamers were used to getting for free in the box-- Internet multiplayer-- could be turned into a more streamlined subscriber service, for a fee. I'm not one of the ones who think that "free" is always better. Products and services that are free are quite often "take it or leave it", and complaints are often met with the response "you didn't pay anything for it, so what do you expect"? I liked the idea of what XBL wanted to become, and I mostly approve of what it is now-- not just multiplayer and messaging, but the marketplace as well. I've bought a fair amount of content through it-- some DLC and even some full games.
I don't think it needs a server browser.
Though I accept that some people just want a stripped down and basic gaming experience... but it's the attitude that there is nothing greater to aspire to and how people usually progress from console to PC gaming are happy to stay locked in Microsoft's walled garden... that's what disappoints me.
That term gets thrown around a lot, and in many times it is inappropriate.
It really depends on what you mean by saying XBL is "stripped down" or "basic" or is a "walled garden".
Yes, there are a number of ways in which the console experience-- not just XBL, but gaming on a console-- is not as full an experience as on a PC. I accept that. Looking at games that exist on both platforms, like Morrowind and Oblivion, it's hard not to be jealous of the extensive mods available for free, even while getting some good DLC that I felt was worth what I paid for it.
The lack of freely available mods to do everything and anything is part of the price paid for MS being able to maintain the integrity of individual consoles and try and limit the measures that people use for online cheating. It is regrettable, but I find it a workable tradeoff. I only have so many hours available for gaming, and I find the available content more than fills the available time, and I don't have a problem paying for DLC that took work to make. It's great that both professionals and amateurs are willing to put in that work and give it away for free, but I'm certainly not going to try and force them to do it, nor am I overly upset that I don't have access to it.
As far as "stripped down" or "basic" that's how I'd describe the average server browser experience, compared to, say, Halo's matchmaking and XBL's integrated friend lists and messaging. In some areas it is less fully featured-- in terms of clan support, for instance. I'd certainly agree that if you'd say that gamers who want to organize in a clan and participate in ladders are better off on PC. I'm not a competitive gamer-- not in the least.
As for "walled garden" I'm not sure what element you refer to-- the store or the multiplayer? Steam only sells and supports games that are sold and supported through Steam. XBL only sells and supports games that are sold and supported through XBL, and developed for the Xbox. A PC with Steam can't run a console game any more than an Xbox can run a PC game. Neither is more open or closed than the other, unless you mean that the computer is a general purpose device, and you can buy non-Steam games on it, as well as do other things.
That's fine. I own computers and I use them for tasks other than gaming. For gaming, there are more titles on the Xbox than I have time to play anyway, and I don't feel particularly deprived of the games available "outside the garden".
"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.
This, sir, is an absolutely ludicrous statement, and it hinders me from taking much else that follows seriously.
Does Microsoft make margin on subscriptions? I dare say they do. Is the real cost to develop, test, maintain, deploy, operate and support XBL one dollar per year per user? I sincerely doubt it.
12 million dollars per year for 12 million Gold Users... yeah, probably, they certainly won't all be online at once, peaking at around 2 million concurrent. Most of the hard work is done by the CONSOLES that people have actually bought and play host (in peer-to-peer games), and the connection load is taken up by the ISPs that AGAIN you pay for when you pay your telephone company for broadband internet.
Why are you only tracking gold users? Most of XBL features are available to Silver and Gold-- friend lists, achievements, messaging, access to marketplace. The multiplayer doesn't factor in because 1) Silver subscribers don't get it, and 2) as you rightly point out, once a game is launched, the consoles take over.
So even if you're ballparking the cost at $1 per yer per user you're talking $20M and up, unless you think that more than 50% of XBL users are Gold. MS doesn't publish that statistics, but I've long believed it was considerably less than that.
Yes, most of the hard work of hosting the game is done by the consoles-- if what you mean by hard work is the actual pushing of bits.
Without the backend that keeps track of who I am, when I'm online, what I'm doing, and handling messaging and presence, and achievements, as well as the marketplace with its downloadable content... I am absolutely certain that the hard costs of running MS' part of XBL are well in excess of 12M. $12M is just not that much money. Services much smaller than that cost more to run once you factor in everything, and you do have to factor in everything.
Develop: that is a ONE OFF initial cost. Steve Zuckerberg made the initial Facebook website almost single-handedly on his own time, that now tracks 10'000x more data than all those matchmaking and achievements stats... for free.
Deploy: YOU paid for that when you bought an Xbox and connected it to the internet
Operate: it really is on par with running a popular website.
Support: You could fit the entire tech team into a lifeboat. Not Tech support phonelines staff though, and they are paid for by premium rate calls.
The site that is now Facebook bears as about as much resemblance to what Zuckerberg coded in his dorm room as a packet of salted peanuts does to the entire west wing of the mental institution run by the Sirius Cybernetics corporation.
To the extent that it does, it's one of the reasons why Facebook's hardware costs are so high, because the backend doesn't sufficiently scale.
As far as Facebook's costs-- you're way off. Facebook cost $300M to run in 2008. If you think that operational costs for XBL are comparable to running a popular website, and Facebook is your example, then you're off by more than a factor of ten.
Even if you consider Facebook's larger user base it works against you. Economies of scale mean that the larger the network gets, the lower the cost per user. At $300M in 2008 for 200M users, Facebook cost $1.50 per user while having ten times as many users as XBL. Logic suggests that the economies of scale involved in a tenfold increase in user base probably means that XBL's cost per user is significantly higher, even if total costs are lower, and even if the average XBL user stores less data on XBL servers than the average Facebook user. Currently storage is one of the cheaper components needed for such a service, after processing power, memory, cooling and uninterruptible power, so pointing out that Facebook users store more data does very little, if anything, to bolster the the allegation that XBL is cheaper because its users consume less space. In a world where Google gives everyone gigabytes of storage for free, I think it's obvious that the impact of storage-related expenses both on cost structures and service pricing is minimal, and certainly much less than it was 10 or 20 years ago.
Deployment-- that is not what is meant by deployment. Deployment in this case means taking the XBL back end and making it commercially available.
I honestly don't know how many people work at Microsoft on the technical side of developing and supporting Xbox Live. I assume they're probably well paid and I don't particularly begrudge them that. I think Major Nelson has already had more than a lifeboat's worth of technical people on his podcast, but I wouldn't stake money to it.
It sure as hell doesn't cost $60 per-user per-year! Not 720 MILLION DOLLARS! Not a tiny fraction of that. THINK about it, how much load youtube must have to handle per user especially over an entire year? Yet they'd never dare charge subscription to view the service (XBL has ads just like youtube).
I never said it did. I just said it was more than $1 per year per gold user. The additional, yes, is margin. That margin is what gives MS an incentive to keep the service running, to continue to develop it. I've no problem $0.16 per day for Live (although I admit I took advantage of the renew discount when they increased the price, so for the next year I'm paying less-- after that I'll pay more. C'est la vie.
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.
I sincerely doubt it is a matter of insulting anyone's intelligence. Businesses generally seek not to charge what they think the inherent "worth" of a product or service is in an abstract or absolute terms, but rather "what the market is willing to pay".
Microsoft here has judged that suitably presented and enhanced, multiplayer functionality is something people are willing to pay for-- and they've found that for a certain segment of the population, this is true.
Other companies, like Valve and Sony, have either decided that they want the word "free" on their bullet list of competitive advantages, or that they actively want to target the portion of the market that believes that multiplayer has no worth, and are not willing to pay for it, in the hopes of catering to that market and upselling them other products and services.
If there's a flaw there I think it's because XBL charging for play doesn't seem to prevent them from also selling other related products and services (marketplace content, DLC, promoting third party services like Netflix) so at best, PSN is at parity with everything Gold subscribers get, but is free-- except for those extras that cost more on either platform, which is mostly third party stuff like Netflix.
The DLC issue is separate, and it all depends how you look at it.
Let's take L4D as an example. If you consider the "entire game" to be the initial release plus DLC, then yes-- Steam is cheaper because DLC is free, and XBL sells it. When I say this is bad, I don't mean bad for any particular individual consumer, who will always consider getting more for less "better". I mean that it sets up incentives in the industry in ways that are bad, which only favor Valve and Steam in their quest to get ever more subscribers and more initial sales of Valve games, but are bad for everyone else in the long run.
I have both L4D games. After playing the first, I liked it well enough, but didn't really feel the need for DLC. I knew the next game was coming out, and I had other things to play. I don't feel I missed out on DLC, and it's possible I might not have downloaded or played it even if it had been. In that case, where I pay $60 for the game as is, and others pay $60 for the game plus DLC, if Valve's margin on L4D covers the cost of not just the game but the DLC as well, then players who don't want or need DLC are subsidizing those who do want it as part of their purchase price for L4D-- whatever that amount is, $10 or $60. This is actually more "communist" than anything in my own example.
Without pricing there's no real way to guage interest. People will likely take almost anything they're given that's free. I know people who will accept and use things that they neither want nor need, and aren't particularly good-- because they got them for free. (I'm not saying L4D or its DLC are like this, I'm just pointing out that the development process has some broken feedback loops here when DLC is free.)
If developers and platform owners agree to charge separately for DLC and to split revenue accordingly, it's possible to balance the budget you put towards making that DLC against how many people are willing to buy it, and what they are willing to pay. While the system might start out with some really ridiculous examples (Oblivion horse armor, anyone?) the idea is that by charging you find out how much genuine interest there is, and how much revenue you can generate-- which means developers can decide whether it is worth it to support a title with DLC, or whether they should just move on to the next title.
When everyone not only expects that all DLC will be free, but that every game should have DLC, the system is broken for all developers except those who make so much on initial sales that the cost to develop DLC is not an issue. If you're smaller than that, you're forced to cut corners as many gamers are seeing happen now-- DLC that actually was done with the game, but is held back, or even put on the disc as an "unlockable".
It's great for Valve's customers that Valve gives away so much for free, insofar as people like free stuff. Valve, however, is one of, if not the most successful PC developer in the past decade. They wouldn't be hurting for cash even if they didn't have Steam, which they publicly state lets them earn three times as much margin as on games sold through traditional retail channels. They can easily commit to developing significant DLC and give it away for free, and writing it off as a promotional expense. That doesn't mean every studio can or should. It's putting DLC into the category of things a developer does when they can afford to, instead of something they can do to enhance or expand their business.
It's no problem for Valve to use Steam to distribute their DLC for free, because all of the money is going into and coming out of the same pocket; every dollar spent, no matter what it is spent on, is promoting Valve.
Try to look at this issue from Microsoft's perspective. They have a subscription service that a certain number of people are willing to pay for. They have a marketplace where they split revenue with developers on DLC. Valve then wants to come in and distribute their content on that network as well, but they want the content to be free-- to write it off as a promotional expense. But this isn't promoting XBL-- it's promoting Valve.
If Microsoft lets Valve put DLC on for free, how could they charge others? If Microsoft can't charge anyone for DLC, why should they offer it? If free DLC was part of XBL's central value proposition-- if people expected it, and wouldn't subscribe without it-- then perhaps they'd have to. Certainly PSN and Steam feel themselves in this position. Microsoft doesn't.
I much prefer the model where I pay for every bit of content I want, and don't subsidize extra stuff I don't want because DLC development budgets have to come out of initial sales revenue. I'm not saying to Valve, or Bungie, or anybody else-- give me stuff for free or go away.
It's not shameful at all, it's just a basic understanding of economics.
Valve believes it has to buy the goodwill of fans and Steam subscribers with freebies. Since they develop, publish and distribute their own games (aggregating all the margin individual parties would get for those otherwise separate functions) and the games they make are both very good and very popular, they can afford this as a cost of doing business. As a way to promote their studio and their distribution platform (as a platform for Steam games) it makes perfect sense.
The problem, of course, is that this sets the bar for DLC on Steam essentially at zero-- not just for Valve, but for everyone. Who can allege that their DLC is worth paying for when the flagship developer on the service, Valve, gives so much away for free? Ultimately this puts the value of all DLC to zero, which might be fine for AAA developers like Valve and Bungie, but probably doesn't give much incentive for anyone besides them to bother making DLC, or for Microsoft to expend resources distributing it.
"It's not shameful at all, it's just a basic
understanding Exploitation of economics."
Fixed for you. Just because xbox is making money doesn't make everything all right.[/quote]
There's no exploitation here. No one is being forced or threatened into using Xbox Live-- not you, me, or anyone. Things are worth what people are willing to pay for them. Charging any less than that isn't virtue, it's just silly. Valve doesn't give away stuff because they're great guys who don't care about money, it's because with the higher margin on Steam they can use DLC to promote the platform and the games and make more initial sales. MS is taking a different tack. There is no moral issue here-- none whatsoever.
"Valve believes it has to buy the goodwill of fans "
Xbox sure as hell think it doesn't have to buy goodwill, they'd rather have you pay top-dollar for bargain-basement off the shelf crap than after a bit of song an dance spin it that you're getting a good deal. EVERY COMPANY HAS TO BUY IT'S FANS GOODWILL!
Actually, no. Some companies think that delivering a good product at a fair price, or providing a good service for a fair price, is enough.
To me, what Valve is telling me when they give away DLC for free is that the content on the box wasn't worth $60 to start with-- but that it will be once I wait for this extra stuff and then download it. What kind of proposition is that? What if I didn't like the game that much and don't want more of it-- can we figure out how much the DLC part should have been worth, and refund my money?
You seem to act as if Xbox simply for being xbox has a sense of entitlement to reverence and glory! Bullshit! You have invested and committed yourself to a system now you have to rationalise your situation to stave off buyer's remorse.
I don't think I've given a moment of either reverence or glory to XBL. It's merely a service I pay for, that pretty much does what I ask of it, and at a price I don't consider to be an issue.
I've been a subscriber since launch and I've never, ever had a moment's remorse about it. $50 (or even the $60 price now) simply isn't enough for me to worry about overmuch-- I'm much more likely to regret the $60 purchase of a game that turns out to disappoint me over the course of five or ten hours than the subscription that lasts for a year. There's no pressure on me to justify the decision because, by and large, I haven't had any significant problems with it that lead me to consider the service worth less than I paid.
Others may feel differently, but I'd say the number is nonzero.
"The problem, of course, is that this sets the bar for DLC on Steam essentially at zero"
Only an Xbox fan would call free DLC a "problem", stop being such a corporate stooge and stand up for the consumer once in a while. BTW, Ubisoft does charge for DLC on Steam and Activision as well... no idea if anyone actually buys it. You clearly know less than nothing about Steam or PC gaming, just blatantly false assumptions.
It's not my job to stand up for any consumer but myself, and I have no qualms with XBL, nor any particular interest in Steam. As a paid XBL subscriber, I do not want to see games on XBL handle their multiplayer with server browsers-- which is the only issue that led me to post, because it's one of the unending litany of "what's wrong with XBL" complaints where people who don't really have an interest in XBL gold say they would get it-- if it were different than what it is, and it were free.
As for "corporate stooge"-- do you mean for companies in general, or Microsoft in particular? Because in general, I don't like Microsoft as a company, or its products. The Xbox and XBL happen to be exceptions to the rule.
If you mean, stop looking at these sorts of problems, policies and decisions from a manager's position and go pick up a pitchfork and a torch and demand that I get free DLC and free online play... sorry, I've no interest in that. The whole point of my writing all this was to try and demonstrate why a lot of these policies and decisions actually make sense from a management perspective, and that a lot of the railing and complaining is unjustified. Everybody wants everything for free. They can't have it. Those who are offering it to you are just trying to gain marketshare on whoever the leader is-- and that's in any market for any product or service, not just here. Nobody gives away anything out of the goodness of their hearts.
It's not a false assumption to point out that Steam releases no sales figures. Presumably someone must buy paid DLC on Steam or there wouldn't be any. However, I have a hard time thinking that paid DLC on Steam doesn't get less interest than the same content on XBL, because Valve has Steam users believing that good quality DLC can and should be free.
"doesn't give much incentive for Microsoft to expend resources distributing DLC. "
AHHH HA HA HA HA!!!
What, you think they have a courier hand deliver each byte of DLC to each user? Fuck sake, you put a download link and a price tag up on the page, a half an hour job for a single low paid code-monkey and vanishingly small upload costs, the process can even be automated so an accountant just has to click a button once they're happy with the price. It is probably harder to sell it and just have it as an automatic update that it may be more trouble than it is worth (accountants cost money).
This is a gross oversimplification. Even running Steam is not this cheap or easy, and I'm sure anyone at Valve involved with Steam would not trivialize both the technical issues and the costs involved in running this kind of service for millions of users in this way. That you think so I think betrays your technical as well as commercial inexperience.
Valve has used DLC far better, to self-advertise the game and keep it relevant, even 3 years after release a new update puts TF2 right at the top of Escapist and other websites' newsfeed. That sells the game.
Please, I own and extensively use both a gaming PC and an Xbox 360 (also a PS3) so don't think you can pull the wool over my eyes. I know how both sides work, you are speaking from a position of clear ignorance and significant prejudice.
For Valve, as a platform owner and a developer, yes, it makes sense to use free DLC to promote game sales, rather than charging for subscriptions or for DLC.
It is not hard to see that this is not in the interest of Microsoft, which is a console manufacturer, service operator, and then developer (although I'm not sure how many in-house studios they have left now-- they've basically just exchanged Bungie for 343 Industries-- I'd have to look at the list.)
I'm not pulling anything over anyone's eyes. I'm not selling Xbox Live to you or anyone else-- I've no interest in that. I do like the service the way it is. I don't want matchmaking replaced by a server browser; nor do I think it likely or practical that XBL would or should deploy dedicated servers, either of its own, or community-run.
I do not have significant prejudice. I have an expressed preference for the service I have chosen to use for online gaming. I certainly don't have enough time to justify multiple platforms-- heck I've probably spent as much or more time in this thread than I have on actual gaming this week.
I've attempted to keep the discussion mostly civil and polite, while you've resorted to profanity, mockery, and insults. However, I think at the end of this post it does seem clear to me that there is a certain amount of ignorance in this thread, but I honestly don't believe I am the source of it. At any rate, I think I've said about as much as I can on these topics, and I'm well aware I'm not convincing you of anything, but that's fine-- my point is that while it's far from perfect, I like the basic concept of what XBL is, and I wouldn't want MS to try and change it into something more like Steam to appeal to an audience whose primary interest is getting things for free. If Microsoft makes good money offering this service in its current form-- I have no objection to that either. If you have Steam and like it-- good for you. It doesn't interest me. While you are in an excellent position to compare the systems, having access to all three, that doesn't necessarily mean that your preferences are suitable for everyone, or that your judgment that one is clearly superior and that the others should attempt to emulate it is valid.