What's Wrong with Xbox Live?

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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.

Treblaine:

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.

It's not a straw man. The proposal was directly to replace or augment the way XBL works with how PC gaming works. I am not attacking the way PC gaming works. I am saying the way PC gaming works cannot work for the console market, and one of the reasons is scale, and another is the expressed preference of the subscribers of the XBL platform.

Treblaine:

"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.

Treblaine:

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.

Treblaine:

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?

Treblaine:

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).

"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"

Treblaine:

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.

Treblaine:

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.

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.

Treblaine:

(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.)

Whether it is a profitable business model over a prolonged period is yet to be determined-- but the same can easily be said of Steam. While the division that plays host to XBL does not turn a profit every quarter, when there are tentpole releases, it does. It posted a $165M profit in Q2 of 2009.

Steam does not release revenue or profitability figures. Nor do they release sales figures. For first-party titles like the Halo series, Microsoft and Valve probably make similar percentages, as they both develop and publish the game. The portion that they sell through Steam they receive more on because there is no retailer to share with, but by the same token, they are foregoing subscription revenue which MS receives and foregoing DLC revenue which MS (and developers) receive.

That they are now willing to chase the extremely small Mac gaming market, and spend resources developing Steam for the Mac, as well as porting some of their catalog, tells me something about how many users they think they need, and how many they have. (This is speaking as a satisfied longtime Mac owner, who used to play some games on the platform, back before the Bungie buyout.)

I in no way feel I am "propping up" any poor business decisions Microsoft has made. I feel I am paying a fair price for a service I use. I do not use the word "free" as the yardstick for measuring my available options.

I'd say that if Valve's business model is to cater to those who want services and content for free, then in the long run, that's a poor business decision. They are leaving money on the table in order to grow the base, but without a beachhead in the console market (let's see what Steamworks can do on PSN) there's not much more growth to be had.

As a way for Valve to make more money on each game sold, Steam and Steamworks are a stroke of genius.

As a model for how network gaming should operate on consoles, the server browser is broken and outmoded.

The two ideas are only tangentially related. They are connected only insofar as they show that the most successful integrated distribution platform and online play service in the PC world (Steam and Steamworks) are still significantly smaller than either of the two major console online services, and so some of the methods deployed in that market (server browsers) may not scale.

Bullett:

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

Yes, because willingness is a factor. It is not unreasonable to assume that a higher percentage of the gamers willing to host a server are already gaming on the PC.

To add the same model to XBL, even as an option, requires a similar percentage of a larger base to make the same commitment, even while probably getting fewer advantages from it. When you consider that dedicated servers would be a cost on top of XBL subscriptions, it becomes even less attractive to the already smaller, percentage-wise, slice of the market that'd be willing to bear such expenses.

Bullett:

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

The problem is that the matchmaking type of model, more than the server browser, depends on critical mass. It's one of the reason why Bungie puts so much effort into Playlists-- because getting people in and out of matches relatively quickly, while offering a wide enough variety of maps and gametypes, depend mostly on how large a population you have to draw on. Playlists that attract more players make matches more quickly. That's why playlists aren't made strictly on map or gametype lines, but types of games (a mix of slayer and objective games on a selection of maps) so that while no one gets their favorites all the time, everyone's favorite gets a turn once in awhile.

There already is a credible alternative to this model-- the friends list.

To further divide the population probably doesn't make sense. If few people use the server browser, you probably can't justify developing and supporting it. If a lot of people use it, matchmaking becomes less effective.

Bullett:

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.

There's no particular reason this should be so. Those people you met on random servers were exactly that-- random. They were just as random as the people you meet in matchmaking. They are people online in the same games, at the same time, with a reasonable ping between themselves and you-- in other words, exactly the sort of people you'd expect to see frequenting a server.

There's no architectural reason that one system led you to build relationships and the other doesn't. It might be the specific people involved, but both those groups are randomly selected from a population meeting the same basic characteristics.

Bullett:

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.

Maintaining a good friends list achieves this just as well as a dedicated server, and does so with less hassle. I don't like randoms either and rarely play with them-- although if and when I want the option, it is there and still works better than a server browser.

The best use is to team up with friends and fight against randoms-- that's the use case XBL is built around.

Bullett:

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.

I can appreciate that you've chosen the experience that best suits your habits and preferences. So have I. However, by suggesting that XBL should be changed to work more like PC gaming (even as an option) you are asking your choice to infringe upon mine in a way I find unacceptable-- whereas I am not suggesting that Steam in particular or PC gaming in general needs to change or adapt to fit my requirements.

As a paying XBL subscriber, I expect that my opinion on how the service works is something that Microsoft responds to (in aggregate, not to me in particular). Steam users pay nothing, though, so it's unclear how that works. Perhaps I should sign up, join the Steam forums, and ask for Valve to implement matchmaking-- as an option? How would that be looked upon?

Bullett:

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.

Halo 1 had no online multiplayer. I suppose you mean Halo 2, which was the first version that supported XBL.

I'm more than willing to believe MS is pretty evil almost all of the time, but this really doesn't make sense. There are good technical reasons why all original XBL games are unsupported now-- not just Halo.

Certainly if Reach were the incentive, MS would shut down H3 online play-- isn't that a much bigger threat to Reach than Halo 2? It's more recent, is a native 360 title, and is very popular. If MS really needed to shut down an old game to support a new one, isn't Halo 3 the one to target, not antiquated old Halo 2?

If anything, the move to shut down the old version of XBL (which supported original Xboxes and only original Xboxes) was to reduce legacy costs, promote hardware 360 purchases, and XBL subscriptions. (The old XBL had no silver-- it was subscription ONLY).

Bullett:

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.

That's a great basis for the business model of a developer and publisher. I'm not entirely certain it is a longterm, reliable, and scalable model for the owner of a true distribution platform-- and I'm hardly the first to say so. By offering DLC for free, Valve has devalued all DLC on the platform. By making online play free indefinitely for all games, they have devalued online play. With those policies in place, Steam is a great platform for Valve games, but little else.

GamesB2:

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..

Well you say I am guilty of "wall o text" responses? Look at the volume of your prose, the post I made was a very reasonable size. You are also contradicting yourself on what you say you said about XBL. You specifically said 20 Million Xbox Live Gold users.

Also there is a third option that Microsoft could have taken (and could and should take now even) that both Sony and Nintendo have taken:

Support the core gamers, the loyal fans, from the start

Look at what Wii offered the core within the first year of launch for the new motion controls:
-Twilight Princess
-Super Mario Galaxy
-Metroid Prime 3: Corruption
-Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition
-Resident Evil: umbrella chronicles

Also since their Motion Plus add on they have addressed the core:
-Red Steel 2
-Zelda: Skyward Sword
-Conduit 2

From coming soon from Sony with Move support:
-Ape Escape Fury! Fury!
-Infamous 2
-Killzone 3
-LittleBigPlanet 2
-Time Crisis: Razing Storm
-SOCOM 4
-EchoChrome2
(countless others from third parties other than Sony)

Microsoft are sticking so rigidly with the "(in soviet russia) YOU are the controller!" that they refuse to even openly consider that Kinect could be used simultaneously with a gamepad or with devices that can have their position tracked more precisely - like for better aiming.

But with such a meek and zealous fanbase, Microsoft know they can get away with selling them up river and pandering to that quick-and-easy casual market money. I mean right now they are WORSE THAN NINTENDO ever was with Wii! Fable 3 removed all Kinect integration. Digital foundry has an incredibly cutting analysis of Kinect:

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-the-case-for-kinect-article

But if you all hadn't taken this bullshit deferential and "wait and see" attitude with Microsoft then you wouldn't have ended up in this mess. It is amazing how any criticisms from Xbox users are dismissed as "Sony fanboys" or "PC fanboys" just being instigators. Do you REALLY trust Microsoft to sort their own shit out without popular backlash?

BTW: it IS all Microsoft's fault that their studios are so screwed up. Sony's studios have stuck with them since the mid-90's, MS drove Bungie away in half the time. I mean crap like having Ensemble studios make Halo Wars then as soon as the game is done liquidise the studio and fire everyone before the game even reaches shelves. But the popular voice of the fans quash and wide dissent and Microsoft again gets away with trashing their own brand till one point it just gets too much.

I'm not asking you to abandon your Xbox 360, I am asking all Xbox fans to realise what Microsoft is doing and stop defending them so zealously.

Treblaine:
Well you say I am guilty of "wall o text" responses? Look at the volume of your prose, the post I made was a very reasonable size.

Exactly why I hate wall of text posts... cause then I respond with wall of text to I don't miss any arguments and there ends up being stupidly long quotes in a page.

You are also contradicting yourself on what you say you said about XBL. You specifically said 20 Million Xbox Live Gold users.

Yes and that's exactly what I mean. When I said I didn't specify between Silver and Gold I meant that the 20 million were people with active gold and the rest were either offline or silver.

Also there is a third option that Microsoft could have taken (and could and should take now even) that both Sony and Nintendo have taken:

Support the core gamers, the loyal fans, from the start

The ones who also are generally quite picky? Yes they should do that. I'm not disagreeing with you on that. But in all honesty the are companies. If they can market crap to those who don't know the difference for a fraction of the cost and 4 times the profit then they will.

Look at what Wii offered the core within the first year of launch for the new motion controls:
-Twilight Princess
-Super Mario Galaxy
-Metroid Prime 3: Corruption
-Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition
-Resident Evil: umbrella chronicles

Also since their Motion Plus add on they have addressed the core:
-Red Steel 2
-Zelda: Skyward Sword
-Conduit 2

From coming soon from Sony with Move support:
-Ape Escape Fury! Fury!
-Infamous 2
-Killzone 3
-LittleBigPlanet 2
-Time Crisis: Razing Storm
-SOCOM 4
-EchoChrome2
(countless others from third parties other than Sony)

I'm not sure of the point here. I don't know much about Move and I generally don't pay attention to anything about the Wii so most of that lost me.

Microsoft are sticking so rigidly with the "(in soviet russia) YOU are the controller!" that they refuse to even openly consider that Kinect could be used simultaneously with a gamepad or with devices that can have their position tracked more precisely - like for better aiming.

Simultaneously with a game pad... umm do you mean like them both connected at once? Cause I don't see the immediate benefit but you sound like you might have a nice idea somewhere. I like how some devs are trying to push Kinect to be good. Peter Molyneux for example. He may be crazy but he is awesome too.

But with such a meek and zealous fanbase, Microsoft know they can get away with selling them up river and pandering to that quick-and-easy casual market money. I mean right now they are WORSE THAN NINTENDO ever was with Wii! Fable 3 removed all Kinect integration. Digital foundry has an incredibly cutting analysis of Kinect:

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-the-case-for-kinect-article

But if you all hadn't taken this bullshit deferential and "wait and see" attitude with Microsoft then you wouldn't have ended up in this mess. It is amazing how any criticisms from Xbox users are dismissed as "Sony fanboys" or "PC fanboys" just being instigators. Do you REALLY trust Microsoft to sort their own shit out without popular backlash?

YOU PC FANBOY- oh wait... no I don't dismiss others opinions as elitism. I disagree with your opinion but hey I can't tell you it's wrong. I'm just offering an alternative opinion for you to think on.

Well Microsoft are already seeing a core backlash on Kinect. I see the Kinect failing possibility a lot more likely. My brothers getting it (he's 10, it's fine) so I'm glad I can try it out without spending my own money. But unless scenario two happens then I don't think Kinect will kick off much.

BTW: it IS all Microsoft's fault that their studios are so screwed up. Sony's studios have stuck with them since the mid-90's, MS drove Bungie away in half the time. I mean crap like having Ensemble studios make Halo Wars then as soon as the game is done liquidise the studio and fire everyone before the game even reaches shelves. But the popular voice of the fans quash and wide dissent and Microsoft again gets away with trashing their own brand till one point it just gets too much.

I don't understand how they drove them away?

Bungie created one of the most popular series in the history of gaming. They want there next IP to be available to more people. That's not Microsoft driving them away. That's Bungie knowing what they want their next step to be.

I don't really know what happened with Ensemble... but Halo Wars was an excellent console RTS. Whether you think it was good or not, it did what most RTS' on the console fail to ever do, actually work.

I'm not asking you to abandon your Xbox 360, I am asking all Xbox fans to realise what Microsoft is doing and stop defending them so zealously.

I try to make my 'defending' of Microsoft apply to as large a base as possible. Yes this is bases around Microsoft, but most of my arguments I try and make it so they apply to other large companies. That's not always possible but I do my best.

I am actually an aspiring game dev (aspiring sounds so pathetic) so I try and keep up with what's going on in the business, who's making money, what's now controversial, the next big thing etc etc. And Seriously I think Microsoft is going to lose loads of money on Kinect then shape up again for a while.

I'm just waiting for the hilarity after Kinect launches and the reviews come pouring in from all corners of the internet.

(That took a long time and I haven't done that kind of sectioned quoting on such a large post before, if it's screwed up I apologise but I'm doing this while eating a burger and playing Reach)

Signa:

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.

So you've covered one game of several with free content.

Zachary Amaranth:

Signa:

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.

So you've covered one game of several with free content.

Well, the only other game you listed that I've played the free DLC for was RB2, and those songs were practically promotional. I've never heard them before or after playing them in-game.

I guess what I was getting at in my first post is that while you made a good point, I think I have an idea where that very subjective line is that MS has drawn, and the only game you listed that I knew crossed that line was Burnout. I was just pointing out why it got a free pass and Valve games did not. I also suspect that because Valve games sell really well on average with players who continue to play a long time after release, MS doesn't want to give away free content to one of their larger cash-cows. If you were MS, which would you green-light faster for free DLC: Extra massive levels in Bullet Witch, or an extra test chamber for Portal?

Narcogen:

Treblaine:

"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:

"we may all have a shit experience but at least we all have an EQUALLY shit experience"

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!

Stop kissing Xbox's ass, this isn't about how peer-to-peer is cheaper and easier to exploit, this is about the gamers.

Narcogen:

Treblaine:

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

"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

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.

Narcogen:

Treblaine:

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?

Treblaine:

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? "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.

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.

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.

Narcogen:

Treblaine:

"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.
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.

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).

Narcogen:

Treblaine:

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.

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.

"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!

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.

"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.

"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).

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.

Narcogen:

The Xbox Live figures are for players. Not subscribers. Players.

Liar. This is the source:

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

USERS!!!

Massive wall of text argument based on a either a fundamental misunderstanding or just such a bold faced lie that you thought you'd get away with it. I think like so many xbox fans you are lying to yourself.

Signa:
Well, the only other game you listed that I've played the free DLC for was RB2, and those songs were practically promotional. I've never heard them before or after playing them in-game.

I guess what I was getting at in my first post is that while you made a good point, I think I have an idea where that very subjective line is that MS has drawn, and the only game you listed that I knew crossed that line was Burnout. I was just pointing out why it got a free pass and Valve games did not. I also suspect that because Valve games sell really well on average with players who continue to play a long time after release, MS doesn't want to give away free content to one of their larger cash-cows. If you were MS, which would you green-light faster for free DLC: Extra massive levels in Bullet Witch, or an extra test chamber for Portal?

So they greenlit free DLC for Monday Night Combat, as well as MNC being able to "stealth patch" and there being promised updates. Which do you think is more likely: That they wouldn't green light Valve but would a 12 man company with no credits yet to this masthead, or Valve is just being obstinate because there's nothing in it for them?

I get what you're saying, in terms of "which is more likely to be green lit," but it doesn't pass the smell test.

What's wrong with Live?

How about the fact that they charge you to play the portion of the game that developers are now spending (arguably) more time on than the single-player.

Micro$oft is one step away from charing you to turn the Xbox on.

They are everything that is wrong with today's consumer driven world.

Zachary Amaranth:

Signa:
Well, the only other game you listed that I've played the free DLC for was RB2, and those songs were practically promotional. I've never heard them before or after playing them in-game.

I guess what I was getting at in my first post is that while you made a good point, I think I have an idea where that very subjective line is that MS has drawn, and the only game you listed that I knew crossed that line was Burnout. I was just pointing out why it got a free pass and Valve games did not. I also suspect that because Valve games sell really well on average with players who continue to play a long time after release, MS doesn't want to give away free content to one of their larger cash-cows. If you were MS, which would you green-light faster for free DLC: Extra massive levels in Bullet Witch, or an extra test chamber for Portal?

So they greenlit free DLC for Monday Night Combat, as well as MNC being able to "stealth patch" and there being promised updates. Which do you think is more likely: That they wouldn't green light Valve but would a 12 man company with no credits yet to this masthead, or Valve is just being obstinate because there's nothing in it for them?

I get what you're saying, in terms of "which is more likely to be green lit," but it doesn't pass the smell test.

Once again, I don't see how that defeats the "money for Microsoft" argument. I've never heard of this Monday Night Combat, and if it was made by a 12 man team, how likely is the content updates going to be of value to Microsoft? The game might make it's own money back if it didn't cost much to make, but how is it possibly going to be any sort of a cash cow for MS? TF2 on the other hand would be obnoxious to try to handle all the multiple tiers of players who would be playing with purchased weapons while others without them couldn't join them. Even if it's Valve that is being problematic in this issue, it's still a logistics issue when dealing with the rules of the LIVE marketplace. All players must be on equal tiers of available content, so that's just not going to happen if each player has to buy each character's new equipment separately. You are right that there is nothing in it for Valve to make updates for TF2 on the Xbox, but that's not because they don't care. It's because of the rules and restrictions that MS has put in place that has caused them to stop caring.

Also, patches are acceptable "free" content, so if there are bug fixes being implemented into MNC, then you can hardly call that new content.

The final sentence caught my attention the most, I don't know shitabout playing online(even though i have already done so).but why is Microsoft doing this to us Xbox fans?

PC gaming, you either come up way on top, or completely in the toilet!

Treblaine:

Narcogen:

The Xbox Live figures are for players. Not subscribers. Players.

Liar. This is the source:

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

USERS!!!

Massive wall of text argument based on a either a fundamental misunderstanding or just such a bold faced lie that you thought you'd get away with it. I think like so many xbox fans you are lying to yourself.

Sheesh. Let's keep it civil here, guys. I don't work for Microsoft. I just own an Xbox, I pay for Xbox Live, and for the most part I like it. I have no reason to tell "bald faced lies" about it.

That g.biz story is third hand-- it has no quotes, only a paraphrase of MajorNelson's twitter from months ago. And aside from the total concurrent users numbers, I also quoted multiple game statistics both from Steam's own statistics page that shows that the peak number of concurrent users for its most popular games are considerably lower than similar figures for XBL's top games.

However I'm entirely willing to concede that the 2 million figure is "users" and not players, but what of it? If my Xbox is on and I'm logged in, there are probably only a few things I'm doing. Playing a game. Possibly watching a movie. I don't watch movies on mine, but some people do. I might just be messaging-- but I'm probably gaming. There's such a huge gap between the total peak concurrent players for the top 100 games on Steam and the total concurrent users figure, combined with the free nature of Steam's service, such that it is difficult not to conclude that a lot of people "connected" to Steam aren't gaming. When you add the fact that Steam never publishes sales figures, it's difficult not to conclude that it's possible a significant percentage of those counted as users not only don't pay a fee, but don't generate revenue for Steam through purchases, either.

I am in no way saying that Steam is bad, or that its model is wrong or bad. Both MS and Valve have every incentive to display whatever numbers makes their service look best. It just looks to me very much like the console online model in general (XBL and PSN) is larger than Steam in specific, and thus Steam's model for multiplayer in specific, and the server browser in general, represents a smaller slice of the entire market-- and as such, it is an open question whether that model would scale. That's all.

I'm curious as to why a suggestion that Steam may not be as large as XBL, based on both service's (admittedly incomplete) statistics, is something you take so personally as to call me a bald-faced liar?

Cassita:
What's wrong with Live?

How about the fact that they charge you to play the portion of the game that developers are now spending (arguably) more time on than the single-player.

There is often no connection between the component costs of a product or service that has many parts, and the amount of money consumers are willing to pay for it. When you price a product, especially a service like Xbox Live that has different parts, pricing tiers are made to step on features that people are willing to pay for-- whether those are the ones that cost money or not.

It's absolutely true that MS doesn't run game servers. Their servers are for the metadata-- friends list, the marketplace. Developers run servers for other bits (matchmaking, game history, statistics). There are also the value adds-- stuff like Facebook, Netflix, what have you.

The division between Silver and Gold hinges on multiplayer not because that's the part that costs money for MS to run, but because that's the part that people are willing to pay for. All the calls to put multiplayer into Silver for free, and keep all the fiddly bits for Gold are pointless, because nobody would pay for that (and the people suggesting this know it all too well).

There's no relation between what developers spend time and money on and what people pay for, nor need there be. Pricing things by just looking at component costs and slapping a percentage of margin on each individual part is a very primitive way of doing business, and it doesn't work well for complex services like Live.

Narcogen:

Cassita:
What's wrong with Live?

How about the fact that they charge you to play the portion of the game that developers are now spending (arguably) more time on than the single-player.

There is often no connection between the component costs of a product or service that has many parts, and the amount of money consumers are willing to pay for it. When you price a product, especially a service like Xbox Live that has different parts, pricing tiers are made to step on features that people are willing to pay for-- whether those are the ones that cost money or not.

It's absolutely true that MS doesn't run game servers. Their servers are for the metadata-- friends list, the marketplace. Developers run servers for other bits (matchmaking, game history, statistics). There are also the value adds-- stuff like Facebook, Netflix, what have you.

The division between Silver and Gold hinges on multiplayer not because that's the part that costs money for MS to run, but because that's the part that people are willing to pay for. All the calls to put multiplayer into Silver for free, and keep all the fiddly bits for Gold are pointless, because nobody would pay for that (and the people suggesting this know it all too well).

There's no relation between what developers spend time and money on and what people pay for, nor need there be. Pricing things by just looking at component costs and slapping a percentage of margin on each individual part is a very primitive way of doing business, and it doesn't work well for complex services like Live.

You missed my point entirely.

Take this example - Halo: Reach. How much time did the devs spend on the single-player as opposed to the multi-player? Very little. If you want to play the part of the game they spent the majority of their budget and programming time on, you have to pay Microsoft - regardless of the fact that you've already paid for the game.

There is no defense for Micro$oft's Live. Don't try.

Treblaine:

Narcogen:

Treblaine:

"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?

Treblaine:

"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".

Treblaine:

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

Treblaine:

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.

Narcogen:

Treblaine:

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.

Treblaine:
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.

Treblaine:

"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.

Treblaine:

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.

Narcogen:

Treblaine:

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?

Treblaine:

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).

Treblaine:
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.

Treblaine:

"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.

Treblaine:

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.

Treblaine:

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".

Narcogen:

Treblaine:

"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.

Treblaine:
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.

Treblaine:

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.

Treblaine:

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.

Narcogen:

Treblaine:

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.

Treblaine:

"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?

Treblaine:

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.

Treblaine:

"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.

Treblaine:

"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.

Treblaine:

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.

Cassita:

Narcogen:

Cassita:
What's wrong with Live?

How about the fact that they charge you to play the portion of the game that developers are now spending (arguably) more time on than the single-player.

There is often no connection between the component costs of a product or service that has many parts, and the amount of money consumers are willing to pay for it. When you price a product, especially a service like Xbox Live that has different parts, pricing tiers are made to step on features that people are willing to pay for-- whether those are the ones that cost money or not.

It's absolutely true that MS doesn't run game servers. Their servers are for the metadata-- friends list, the marketplace. Developers run servers for other bits (matchmaking, game history, statistics). There are also the value adds-- stuff like Facebook, Netflix, what have you.

The division between Silver and Gold hinges on multiplayer not because that's the part that costs money for MS to run, but because that's the part that people are willing to pay for. All the calls to put multiplayer into Silver for free, and keep all the fiddly bits for Gold are pointless, because nobody would pay for that (and the people suggesting this know it all too well).

There's no relation between what developers spend time and money on and what people pay for, nor need there be. Pricing things by just looking at component costs and slapping a percentage of margin on each individual part is a very primitive way of doing business, and it doesn't work well for complex services like Live.

You missed my point entirely.

I didn't miss it, I just disagree with it-- entirely.

Cassita:

Take this example - Halo: Reach. How much time did the devs spend on the single-player as opposed to the multi-player? Very little.

I disagree. I think they (Bungie) disagree. As someone who plays more campaign than multiplayer, and as a longtime Bungie fan, I disagree.

Even if I did agree, I'd consider it largely irrelevant. I see no particular reason why the price I pay for the various functions of the game (campaign, competitive multiplayer, firefight) needs in any way to be proportional to the time, effort, or money spent on developing those features.

It is entirely possible that a feature Bungie might be able to make quickly, easily and cheaply would be one that I really want in the game, and would form a big part of my decision to buy it. Things are worth what people are willing to pay for them, not their base cost plus some kind of crowdsourced acceptable profit margin.

Cassita:

If you want to play the part of the game they spent the majority of their budget and programming time on, you have to pay Microsoft - regardless of the fact that you've already paid for the game.

Call me crazy, but I want to pay the parts of the game that I like to play-- whether they were hard or easy to make, or consumed a lot or a little of the budget.

This is the same argument as DLC again-- you're trying to make the "whole cost" of the game the title purchase plus the service fee, because to fully use everything the developers put on the disc, you need Live.

What if someone has no interest in multiplayer? If multiplayer is supposed to be included in the purchase price of the disc, as with other games, can they get a discount if they have no interest and don't intend to use it?

If I have no time for online Reach multiplayer, and multiplayer was more than half the development budget, shouldn't that mean I should be able to buy Reach at 50% off?

There are lots of reasons that PC multiplayer on the Internet has traditionally been free, but none of them are because it's the most sensible way or because it sets up the best incentives for all the parties to create good products and services.

Separate pricing just makes much more sense here. A one-time charge for one-time costs: developers make the game, publishers publish it, consumers buy it. Recurring charges for recurring activities: support of online gaming and attendant services over a relatively long period of time. If I don't want multiplayer, I don't have to pay for it.

Cassita:

There is no defense for Micro$oft's Live. Don't try.

It's a service I pay for and generally like, why on earth wouldn't I defend it?

As for the rest-- come on, the "Micro$oft" thing is not only a bit old now, but also pretty immature. Yes, they are a business, interested in making money. So is Valve. There's no moral high ground here. Valve isn't giving stuff away free because they love you. They are doing it because that is what is best for their business model and their company. Microsoft is doing the same.

There are plenty of places where Microsoft has done wrong and illegal things. Most of them have to do with Windows, and not Live.

Narcogen:
SNIP

Yes, there is nothing wrong with paying to play a game you have already paid for at all.

Nope. Nothing at all -_-

Yes, it is a service you pay for. So? You could also pay someone to spit in your mouth - paying for it isn't justification for it so exist, as you try to imply.

Another walking wallet, I see.

Another magpie, too.

Oh how Micro$oft loves a sucker like you.

Cassita:

Narcogen:
SNIP

Yes, there is nothing wrong with paying to play a game you have already paid for at all.

Nope. Nothing at all -_-

Why is paying a recurring fee for continued use of certain game features any more objectionable than being forced to pay for features one doesn't want?

Cassita:

Yes, it is a service you pay for. So? You could also pay someone to spit in your mouth - paying for it isn't justification for it so exist, as you try to imply.

What other possible justification is there for a company to offer a service, other than that there's a market willing to pay for it?

For you, XBL is like having someone spit in your mouth. You don't want it and won't pay for it. Fine-- that's a personal choice.

For me, that's not what XBL is like. For me, having to deal with godlike server admins and video card drivers would be, and I don't mind paying a fee for what XBL offers.

Cassita:

Another walking wallet, I see.

I suppose not everyone can afford $50 a year. That's okay.

Cassita:

Another magpie, too.

Oh how Micro$oft loves a sucker like you.

Are you running Steam on Linux or OS X? Because I think Microsoft loves all of its Windows users, too. If I'm going to use a Microsoft platform in order to game, I'll take the one they made for gaming-- and keep them away from the other things I need to do with computers. Having different personal preferences to you, or anyone else for whom XBL is not a reasonable value proposition does not make me or any of the rest XBL's subscribers "suckers".

Ah, wonderful. Reasoned, civil, and substantive debate... somewhere else, because there isn't any in this post.

As an aside:

Both Microsoft and Valve deliberately publish incomplete statistics, and omit information that would be required for a direct comparison. They release figures that they think shows their service in the best light.

The only figures that both systems display that are directly comparable are the current online users in particular games.

Steam's top game as of this moment is MOW2, with some 18,000 users online.

XBL's top game (I assume, because they don't release these stats daily, but only weekly) is Halo: Reach, which currently has 158,000 users online.

Even accounting for this being Reach's launch week, that's a significant gap; and the Steam chart drops below 2,000 concurrent users per game before it gets out of the top ten.

This has nothing to do with trying to say that "XBL is good" and "Steam is bad" or anything like that. I'm not even particularly interested in the question of which is bigger, better, or more popular, because by itself, those facts are only interesting to Valve and Microsoft.

My only point was that there is insufficient evidence that the server browser/dedicated server model can scale up from player populations supported by Steam to those supported by XBL, which seem to be larger in most comparisons I can find. Most supporters of this idea just seem to assume that it can, or else assume that there are no differences in scale. I do not believe this to be the case.

I think some percentage of Steam gamers are willing to pay for one or more dedicated servers and build communities around them. I think that's great.

I think a smaller percentage of XBL subscribers would be willing to do so, and that as a parallel, alternative system, dedicated servers and a server browser would take away one of the things XBL subscribers like about the service without offering any substantive improvement. The position that more people would use XBL if multiplayer is free is pointless, because then there's little reason for Microsoft to even offer the service, except to maintain feature parity with PSN. The position that more people would use XBL if it worked more like Steam is similarly pointless, because these same arguments seem to come from those who seem most likely to object to some other aspect of how MS runs the service, and would probably not subscribe anyway.

There's no point whatsoever in Microsoft changing the service to better please people who don't and won't subscribe to it, changing some of the parts that paying subscribers appreciate in the process.

Narcogen:
SNIP

Go ahead - keep paying for services that should be free.

I'll be over there, playing Starcraft or something - you know, for free.

Cassita:

Narcogen:
SNIP

Go ahead - keep paying for services that should be free.

I'll be over there, playing Starcraft or something - you know, for free.

Why on earth should it be free?

Things are worth to you what you are willing to pay for them. What you're saying is, multiplayer is worthless to you-- because you won't pay for it. Why should developers spend time and money on creating features their users think are worthless? After all, it's not like those services are worth anything, unlike say-- graphic design. Nobody should be asked to give that away for free, of course-- that'd be silly!

This whole argument wasn't about Steam or Blizzard, it was about dedicated servers and server browsers. Are all dedicated servers free? It's all just bits on the Internet, right-- nothing costs anything and everything ought to be free.

Out of sheer curiosity, what would you do if everyone started charging for online play? What makes you think they won't, at some point?

Starcraft 2 is much more tightly integrated into Battle.net than the first iteration was, and there are indications Blizzard would like it to be even more tightly integrated.

Blizzard also makes most of its money from recurring charges-- World of Warcraft subscriptions. How long before they decide all their games should be more MMO-like, including some sort of yearly or monthly fee?

Narcogen:
SNIP

Wait, let me check something...

Nope. Don't need to pay to play CoD: MW online on my PC.

Now, let's see... Oh, look at that - you do need to pay for it on the 360... Weird...

Narcogen:

I'm curious as to why a suggestion that Steam may not be as large as XBL, based on both service's (admittedly incomplete) statistics, is something you take so personally as to call me a bald-faced liar?

Because it is only through lies, deception and conceit that Xbox Live has found any success at all.

It is an exploitative, dumbed down and incredibly closed system.

FYI: many steam games DO IN FACT use peer-to-peer online, such as Modern Warfare 2 at the behest of Activision, it functions a tad bit better than the console version but still a big pile of donkey dicks in comparison to server run games. You can also use use peer-to-peer with all multiplayer Valve games like TF2 but no one ever bothers as Client-server model is always better (it's mainly there for LAN games).

It's obvious you know bugger all about servers as earlier you talked about a user run server assuming they'd Actually Physically Own The Server Machine and keep it in their home. Jesus Christ, how can you talk with such confidence on something you are SO ignorant about? Dedicated Servers are kept in the very centre of the internet network to avoid the "uphill" latency that is found in the last-mile of lines that connect to each residential home. They are enterprise run systems and rented out. You can also do the same if you want to run your own website.

You are really clutching at straws you keep going back to how it is in any way a problem that Steam is free. My god, you are really chugging back the Xbox kool-aid to hold it against competing services that they are free! You are so vested in convincing yourself you are right to pay for Gold Membership you will resort to any stretch and contortion of logic to Rationalise it!

Your logic is as insulting to the paying gamer as it is asinine:

"Gold hinges on multiplayer not because that's the part that costs money for MS to run, but because that's the part that people are willing to pay for."

That is the logic that rationalises price gouging, you don't know crap about free market competition and how this is not capitalist economics, this is feudal economics. "you're on my land, I'll charge what I like for you to drink the plentiful water".

Narcogen:

Cassita:

Narcogen:
SNIP

Go ahead - keep paying for services that should be free.

I'll be over there, playing Starcraft or something - you know, for free.

Why on earth should it be free?

Things are worth to you what you are willing to pay for them. What you're saying is, multiplayer is worthless to you-- because you won't pay for it. Why should developers spend time and money on creating features their users think are worthless? After all, it's not like those services are worth anything, unlike say-- graphic design. Nobody should be asked to give that away for free, of course-- that'd be silly!

Hey, the GAME ITSELF costs $60!!!!

THAT is where you paid for it, and Blizzard BUYING the dedicated servers is a one off cost just like all the other development costs and trust me that is even then a TINY FRACTION of costs like artists, coders, advertising and legal of actually making the game.

You know how much a dedicated server costs working it out at per-user PER-HOUR at typical RENTAL rates?

Less than 0.1 of a Penny per hour, less than one thousandth of a Pound. You put up just a single ad that the player views per hour (like when they start a new match) and that will pay for itself Ten Times Over.

$60 for Online SHOULD pay for 44'363 hours of gameplay equal to over 5 years of CONTINUOUS UNINTERRUPTED PLAY! And that is with dedicated servers NOT peer-to-peer online - which is all Microsoft guarantees to run with gold - that really is free to run as the load is taken by the ISPs (paid for by YOU when you pay for your internet broadband) and the hostign console (again paid for by you)

Microsoft to spite demanding $60 per year doesn't PAY for a single god damn dedicated server for any game. The games on 360 that DO have dedicated servers, well the developers absorb that cost without a word of complaint.

We won't pay for it because we KNOW it is a rip-off. It's highway robbery, stand in the road and demand money to be let past:

Highway Robber: "What? You don't VALUE using this road? If you do then why won't you pay? While we are at it... how much do you value your life?"

We have PAID already! We PAY for the internet, we PAY for the host machine, we PAY for the game but Microsoft demands an extortionate amount just for PERMISSION to connect them all together.

Narcogen:
*snipped a GIGANTIC wall of text*

Remember it was YOU who said you disliked wall o text responses. By as is typical for your muddled thinking and hypocrisy you do it yourself to the worst extent I have ever seen.

I haven't snipped anything of much worth, just a couple dozen pages of textbook examples of debating fallacies, circular logic and pathetic rationalisations where your conclusions is almost always:

"I'm fine with that"
or
"I'm not interested in if the competition is better"
or
"that's just the way I prefer it"

All this just shows me how you are psychologically INCAPABLE of viewing Xbox or XBL in a seriously critical way more than token remarks like admitting underplayed issues like expensive proprietary accessories.

This is the worst case I have seen yet. Projector and surround sound system... yet you say you don't care about getting the best quality?

I'm just replying to let you know I read your post, I haven't forgotten about you, I just think there is nothing in your wall of text to refute as it refutes itself. I could point out all the glaring contradictions, falsehoods, wrong assumptions and just plain ignorance if not lies but it's clear from what you have written that you are a "true believer". You are simply incapable of looking at it objectively and seriously considering alternatives and WAY too far gone to ever find perspective, especially not from anything you read in a forum.

If anything I wrote DID challenge your Xbox Idealism you'd just ignore it or come up with endless contorted rationalisations till we get to this point: I give up.

Not because you have "won" this debate, but because I know any conclusion is impossible, you have dragged it to a stalemate with such excessive fisking and endless rambling prose. Allow the great Jean-Luc Picard to must succinctly summarise a response to your post:

image

Signa:

Once again, I don't see how that defeats the "money for Microsoft" argument. I've never heard of this Monday Night Combat, and if it was made by a 12 man team, how likely is the content updates going to be of value to Microsoft? The game might make it's own money back if it didn't cost much to make, but how is it possibly going to be any sort of a cash cow for MS? TF2 on the other hand would be obnoxious to try to handle all the multiple tiers of players who would be playing with purchased weapons while others without them couldn't join them. Even if it's Valve that is being problematic in this issue, it's still a logistics issue when dealing with the rules of the LIVE marketplace. All players must be on equal tiers of available content, so that's just not going to happen if each player has to buy each character's new equipment separately. You are right that there is nothing in it for Valve to make updates for TF2 on the Xbox, but that's not because they don't care. It's because of the rules and restrictions that MS has put in place that has caused them to stop caring.

Also, patches are acceptable "free" content, so if there are bug fixes being implemented into MNC, then you can hardly call that new content.

You can't have it both ways. Sorry.

Also, why doesn't Valve fix their content if patches are acceptable? People are still clammoring for that, and the same argument is being put forth by Valve. "well we'd LIKE to, but teh evul micro$oft is evil!"

Still doesn't pass the smell test.

I'm very happy to pay my whatever it is a year on xbox live. Sure, I'd rather it were free, but the enjoyment I get out of playing online is well worth the cost.

A lot of people here seem to have an unjustified sense of entitlement.

smithy_2045:
I'm very happy to pay my whatever it is a year on xbox live. Sure, I'd rather it were free, but the enjoyment I get out of playing online is well worth the cost.

A lot of people here seem to have an unjustified sense of entitlement.

Hmm, I wonder where that sense of entitlement comes from?

Dreamcast online = Free
Playstation 2 online = Free
Sony PSP online = Free
Playstation 3 online = Free
Nintendo Wii online = Free
Nintendo DS online = Free
PC incl. Mac online = Free
iPhone/iPad online = Free

Online gaming component of every gaming platform NOT made by Microsoft = Free

THAT'S where!

The REAL question is where does Microsoft get the sense of entitlement to CHARGE for online when they don't even pay for dedicated servers?

I am convinced that Xbox fans who pay for online with so little reluctance have little to no gaming experience outside of Microsoft's walled Xbox environment or are complete morons who fall for their misleading marketing.

Classic one is "only X amount per day", that is flawed reductionist logic, you can't arbitrarily divide a cost by smaller and smaller units to justify it. A million dollars is only $11 an hour over 10 years, it's still a million bucks!

Also why not the other way? $60 per year is $300 over 5 years! Which is a pretty typical length of time over which you'd use a console, that inflates the cost of the system from $299 to $600! Back in 2006 people were spewing vile vitriol in anger over the NEW playstation going for that price. Turns out if they'd bought an Xbox 360 in 2006 for $429 (Elite was the only one with HDMI then) it would have cost them a total of $629(!) or $730 since launch in 2005!

It's a massive con. Microsoft is duping you into thinking you're getting the best deal

Zachary Amaranth:

Signa:

Once again, I don't see how that defeats the "money for Microsoft" argument. I've never heard of this Monday Night Combat, and if it was made by a 12 man team, how likely is the content updates going to be of value to Microsoft? The game might make it's own money back if it didn't cost much to make, but how is it possibly going to be any sort of a cash cow for MS? TF2 on the other hand would be obnoxious to try to handle all the multiple tiers of players who would be playing with purchased weapons while others without them couldn't join them. Even if it's Valve that is being problematic in this issue, it's still a logistics issue when dealing with the rules of the LIVE marketplace. All players must be on equal tiers of available content, so that's just not going to happen if each player has to buy each character's new equipment separately. You are right that there is nothing in it for Valve to make updates for TF2 on the Xbox, but that's not because they don't care. It's because of the rules and restrictions that MS has put in place that has caused them to stop caring.

Also, patches are acceptable "free" content, so if there are bug fixes being implemented into MNC, then you can hardly call that new content.

You can't have it both ways. Sorry.

Also, why doesn't Valve fix their content if patches are acceptable? People are still clammoring for that, and the same argument is being put forth by Valve. "well we'd LIKE to, but teh evul micro$oft is evil!"

Still doesn't pass the smell test.

Sounds like you just need to stop playing TF2 on the 360 then, because playing it on the PC smells like roses, or any other pleasant branded air freshener.

civver:
Whoever implements this system on a console first gets my money. Possibly for a long time.

Zachary Amaranth:

Signa:

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.

So you've covered one game of several with free content.

Well, the whole thing with Burnout was a year of free updates called "Year of Paradise". Within this year, the majority of the updates were to add multiplayer game modes that the game shipped without (And 2 cars for use online only, both of which were shit...). The 2 of the big updates for the year ended up being an update to fix the handling of certain cars and Burnout Bikes. While the Bike update sounded cool when they announced it, it turned out not to be what most were hoping for. There were only 4 bikes total, and the only things you could do were time trials in single player. Bikes were fun online for a little bit, but they ended up losing appeal really quick. After this year, it was EA, not Microsoft, who wanted them to make premium DLC for a profit. But, I'll be honest, a lot of that DLC was definitely worth the money.

I agree that microsoft should allow us to run....no wait, MODERATE servers for a nominal fee, if they allowed us to do that, I'd be more willing to buy Xbox Live Gold (I just renewed for Halo), it's not that I have a problem with paying cash for the ability to play online, I have a problem with paying money to play online with a bunch of foul-mouthed morons with no self-control or common sense. As far as the TF2 DLC is concerned I think the PS3 will get it when steam on PS3s goes live.

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