You use circular logic. You say "things that are valuable people pay money for" (paraphrased) and I think you have foolishly paid for Xbox Live for so long you ascribe it value mainly BECAUSE you have paid for it. There is no fact or logic to XBL style Matchmaking (peer-to-peer CAN apply for this but if you insist) being in any way better than proper Client-server model other than it simply being CHEAPER for Microsoft at the COST of the user experience and overall capability.
I promise this will be my last response, and I'll try and keep it short.
"Things are worth what the market will bear" is neither circular logic, nor a statement I originate. It is a well-known, well-understood economic axiom. It means that what people are willing to pay is the DEFINITION of value.
By giving away PSN and Steam, the owners of those systems are telling to consumers and the market that they do not believe they can successfully charge for it and still achieve their target subscriber figures. Valve doesn't need to because it makes much more on each sale of its games through Steam than they do through other channels, more than other developers make through other channels, and more than console platform owners make through Valve's own titles. Sony gives away PSN because they want the bullet item "free" to show up in a comparison to XBL and no other reason.
The value of XBL is not solely established by my willingness to pay the proffered price, or the willingness of any one subscriber to pay it. The assent of the millions of subscribers is. If the price were higher, fewer would subscribe (and perhaps numbers will decline as the result of the increase). If the price were lower, perhaps more would-- up until the theoretical ceiling implied by the number of consoles in the installed base which are or can be connected to broadband.
The real performance advantages of the dedicated server model don't affect this market so far because the market has not demanded it. The existing system has been deemed "good enough" by most people. "Good enough" is, as the name might imply, "good enough" for most people and most situations. It is not the best.
The best you can give is preference for things like matchmaking: and that clearly comes far more from financial rationalisation, brand loyalty, and familiarity due to blind exclusion of alternatives... than any sensible objective comparison. On so many other platforms we have been given both options and preferred Dedicated Servers. You only like Matchmaking because that is all Xbox has given you.
Good grief. This is nonsense. I have zero brand loyalty to Microsoft. I may have some to Bungie, and it is certainly true that if it were not for Microsoft's acquisition of that studio, I might very well not own a console-- any console.
Financial rationalization-- addressed. The amount spent does not require any.
Brand loyalty? I'm a Bungie fan and a longtime Mac owner who eschews Windows whenever possible. I notice you completely avoided commenting on my question as to your choice of gaming platform.
My preference for Matchmaking is because I see exactly what is trying to be achieved there-- to try and please as many users as possible. My reasons are mostly unrelated to this thread, which has gone on long enough-- it has more to do with how preferences for certain maps and gametypes tend to dominate over time if minority favorites are not championed somewhere-- unless your favorites are everyone's favorites, you're unlikely to to be completly happy with the dedicated server model unless you run one. Which is fine.
Do you regularly use ANY other gaming platform? Or is it as you say "I'm just not interested" in anything else?
Not any more, no. As I mentioned, there is only so much time for gaming, and even if one admits that 90% of everything is crap, the remaining interesting games I find on the 360 take up more than the available time I have for them. If I were, say, a big fan of a genre underrepresented on the console-- like JRPGS-- then I probably wouldn't own it, because pickings are too slim. I'd likely have gone for a PS3 or a gaming PC.
If I were still avidly playing RTS games (not since the original C&C and Myth) then I'd have to be on the PC (or the Mac) because generally the console isn't (so far) really suited to those games.
I have a few games on iOS-- mostly things for nostalgia value. Most of my apps are not games. I don't own a handheld console of any kind.
I've often considered getting a PS3 as a Blu-Ray player and then seeing what games on the platform would hold my interest, but I've not committed to doing it yet. With LG adding the Plex network media player to their Blu-Ray players next year, I may not bother with it.
"are you honestly trying to suggest that I would expend this amount of effort just to rationalize past expenditures, but that I would continue to spend cash on something that I know has no value?"
You almost answer it yourself as you have DELUDED YOURSELF that is has the value you say it does, page after page (lot of effort) of earnest arguments you're not convincing me or anyone you "have to say this" to convince yourself. You pay what is easily thousands of dollars for your Xbox in XBL since 2002 AND the many Replacement systems AND overpriced (as you have admitted) Peripherals and also an overkill home cinema system which you have dominate your entire living room for what you yourself describe as only "good enough" performance. (I'd never put a gaming system on a living room TV unless it were used almost exclusively for co-op/party-games, the living room is a social area)
The home theater room is just that: a home theater. It was built for watching movies, and also gaming, although that is a secondary purpose. When it's used for socializing it's because the people in the room are engaging in one of those activities. For social gatherings that aren't organized around viewing material, there are other, better suited venues.
Again, though, your logic is entirely circular: You say X is true, and anyone who disagrees is deluded. Since a deluded person cannot be trusted, no response is possible, since ANY response I make can be dismissed as a symptom of my unexamined, unestablished, alleged delusion. You cannot use your disagreement with my statements as evidence for your assertion that I am deluded-- not if you intend to use your assertion that I am deluded to dismiss my response to your statements. It is circular. My having paid for XBL and considering it good value for money does not establish delusion. You must first establish delusion, and then explain how my delusion led to my actions.
Overkill? I'm using a console that is capable of putting out a 720p signal and a 5.1 audio source onto a 720p native projector and a 5.1 decoder. Yes, some of the games on the console have frame buffers smaller than 720p, and some upscaling is done. It is always good to minimize upscaling, but it is often unavoidable. I have plenty of standard definition content, as well as older games, as well as high definition content. That my system is able to play all of them does not make it "overkill" for the content that could be viewed with less.
What peripherals? Here you go again harping on peripherals. I haven't bought any. I don't need any. I have the controllers it came with. I don't see a need for anything else.
Either you have no concept of the value of money and/or quality (I doubt that) or you're irrationally attached to the brand beyond any objective perspective of getting the best game quality for your money. You say you've been using Xbox since the Original console's launch, don't act like it is so unlikely, companies try SO HARD to foster brand loyalty some people get caught up in the marketing speak.
Let's apply occam's razor here. What is more likely? That I have no concept of the value of money, or that I-- and millions of others-- are irrationally attached to a brand owned by one of the least likable, least competent, least friendly companies on the planet, that makes most of its money from some pretty lousy, bloated software (Office) and a pretty substandard (in my opinion) operating system?
I live overseas. Other than the Internet, I get no exposure to Microsoft's media spends. I don't see billboards, I don't see TV ads-- I don't watch TV anyway. Of course, there's the internet, but Sony and Nintendo and Valve are all there as well, so why I've somehow been magically suborned by Microsoft and not any of them, I can't really fathom.
So, take your pick: either money is worth much, mess less to me than it is to you (presumably because I have more of it? I'm not sure what you're suggesting here) in which case I find it hard to imagine why I'd even care enough to write anything, or Microsoft's marketing is so powerful that the likes of Sony, Nintendo and Valve are simply unable to stand in its way.
If Microsoft's marketing alone-- solely on the Internet-- is enough to turn rational people into deluded slaves who pay thousands of dollars for goods and services that are clearly inferior, then why isn't the 360 the #1 console?
Don't Sony and Nintendo shareholders want to make money as much as Microsoft does? Do they not also spend money on marketing? Are they held back by scruples that Microsoft has long since shed, or do they simply not know where the button that turns on the Mind Control Ray is?
The centerpiece of your argument is insulting. I've attempted to debate with you as a way of demonstrating that while you see a system that is clearly inferior, many others see as good enough and fit for purpose-- and worth paying for. Your entire response is that anyone who thinks so is a mindless sucker experiencing Stockholm syndrome. It's ridiculous and insulting.
By all means, an Xbox 360 is an essential console to own this generation but not to the exclusion of others, the amount you admit to investing in Xbox how COULD you justify getting another system? But the entire way Microsoft has played this it is ingeniously designed to exclude alternatives and lock you in, to create a practical if not actual monopoly. For example if you have paid for Xbox Live there is a huge incentive to use it over alternatives before it runs out, it would be a waste not to. PSN doesn't compete with XBL as you HAVE to use XBL with Xbox!
Before it runs out? I'm sorry, I've never felt this pressure for a single minute. I play online when I feel like it and when I have time. I've never worried for a moment that if I don't play today I haven't justified my yearly expenditure. As I said, I just don't think about it in those terms because the yearly amount doesn't rise to the level of requiring that kind of consideration.
Cable television packages can cost about the same per month as XBL does for a year, depending on the contents. Do those subscribers feel obligated to watch more television instead of perform other activities, in order to make sure they get the most value out of that? It's more rational just to evaluate whether the service, at the price it is, is worth whatever usage level you would normally expect. If the amount of television you would watch *if it was free* is worth to you the price they are charging, then pay it and watch what you like. If the amount of XBL I would play *if it were free* is worth my paying $40, or $50, or $60, then I agree to pay it-- and then play however much I would otherwise. Otherwise we'd all be glued to cable TV, Xbox Live and the Internet 24/7 in order to justify all the recurring expenditures. (Wait, I think that already happened.)
I can certainly see that for those on a tighter budget, the recurring nature of the XBL subscription fee might act as a kind of psychological factor, but that's only for people who are incapable of evaluating properly, or else who are going on monthly cards rather than yearly subscriptions. If your online alternatives (PSN, Steam) offer free play, then time spent doing that does not cost you more for Xbox Live. Either Live offers you something worth paying for, or it doesn't.
Having alternatives but putting more time into Live-- simply because it's being paid for-- doesn't make any sense, because short of cancelling Live altogether, there's no savings to be realized, and Live costs the same whether you play it or not. If you ever play it at all, that play has to be worth the price-- if it isn't, then don't pay for it!
I know people fall into this mode of thinking, but it's false.
Exclude alternatives? Does the Xbox somehow detect the presence of another console and send out incompatibility waves?
I can't justify another system because even the sliver of games on the 360 that are worth getting occupy more free time than I can reasonably assign to gaming. For me, in the past couple of decades, the only must-have franchises have been Bungie's works (Marathon, Myth, Halo) as well as Elder Scrolls and Fallout, although I've also become a fan of Mass Effect.
Most of those are available on multiple platforms. They're all available on the Xbox. If I was a Final Fantasy fan I'd probably own a PlayStation 3, and how online play probably wouldn't matter to me one bit.
Most of my spending on entertainment is either in the audio and display pipelines (receiver, loudspeakers, projectors, media players) or on software titles (movies, games). Another console, by itself, does nothing-- it's just a gateway to more software titles. A great many number of titles are available on more than one platform, so the value comes in what that new console brings that I couldn't get anywhere else-- and there just isn't, so far for me anyway, a single game or franchise or list of titles that are enough to get me to go in for a second or third console, or to return to PC gaming in any big way.
That could change-- I could tire of what I have, or I could gain more free time (fat chance) or something could come out that compels me to add another vector-- I've had friends suggest Heavy Rain to me, but so far it just hasn't bitten me.
Just don't get caught up in their "game", don't fall for the addictive gamerscore whoring, or get caught up in Gold Membership bullshit, paying for replacement consoles or ever buying their overpriced peripherals. Get some perspective, seriously consider what exclusives are you missing out on and other gaming experiences. Maybe instead of paying $60 every year realise over 4 years that is the price of a PS3 or Wii, or just one year to upgrade your PC.
If the exclusives available on other platforms were more attractive to me than the elements of Gold on the platform I had, I'd have bought it. It wouldn't be an either-or, it's not as if my budget for this activity is fixed. I don't have to drop Live to afford another platform. I have Live because I see value in it. I don't have another platform because (up to and including this precise moment) I haven't seen value in it. Either could be subject to change, but both positions are the result of a rational consideration of available options, and neither is a result of marketing or delusion.
You ARE an enthusiast gamer (surround sound, giant projector) you shouldn't be limiting yourself to one platform just for comfort and familiarity.
This is probably one of the oddest things you've said. Gaming is a leisure activity, and yet you present comfort and familiarity as pejoratives, things to be avoided.
Yes, I am an enthusiast gamer. I want an experience I consider optimal, based on the games I want to play, the aesthetic experience I want to have while playing them, and the degree of hassle I am willing to go through in order to get that experience. For my personal preferences, for the games I want to play, the Xbox console and the XBL platform deliver a combination that meets most of my requirements, enough so that I do not feel any particular urge to add other platforms.
These are games we're talking about. These are not some kind of exotic life experience that need to be sought out in spite of hardship and pain. Virtue is not bound up in misery. Do I want to be comfortable when I play? Yes I do. Do I want the window onto my gaming experience to be familiar and easy to use, so that I spend the least amount of time and effort getting in and out of games, and the most time and enjoyment actually playing them? Why, yes I do-- for the games I want to play.
My assertion that XBL is a platform with value does not suggest that the other platforms do not have value for others whose priorities are different-- they want different games, different interfaces, different levels of control over their experience. I am not attempting to devalue those experiences in order to assign mine some value. Why do you feel the need to do that?
At any rate, thanks for an enjoyable discussion, although I would have wished you were more polite about it and a bit more open-minded. This has, however, gone on far too long, so as I wrote above, this is my last repsonse in this thread.