[Online Play] Pay-to-play vs Free

Discussion in 'Games' started by Abulia, May 8, 2006.

  1. Abulia macrumors 68000

    Abulia

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    #1
    Much ado has been made of Nintendo and Sony's upcoming online services -- which we know precious little about -- and a select few (I'm looking at you, GFLPraxis) who take every opportunity to diss the paid Xbox service, Live. Now, ultimately I don't know what service is going to be the "best" and since I may end up having all three consoles it may also end up being a moot point. :) In any case, I do want to defend Live and the pay-to-play model because it's getting a bad rap I feel, from those who've (probably) never used it.

    1. Paid = Better Service. This is a pretty easy line to draw, as its in Microsoft's best interest to keep the service running and stable as you've paid for it. As a Live Beta Tester back in 2002 (?) who's always had Live, I can not remember one outage. In fact, the only problem I ever had with Live was resolved and Microsoft provided me with a credit (1600 Marketplace points) for my inconvenience. Microsoft Live has been more reliable than my phone service the past four years! :eek:

    Note that there's nothing to say that a free service couldn't be just as good; it clearly isn't as high a priority to the company, however.

    2. Less Asshats. It's a simple fact that if you have to pay-to-play then you've raised the barrier to entry. I'm fine with that. In fact, I welcome it. That means less 12-year old griefers, profanity-strewn online matches, or any of the wildcards that exist on any online service. By raising the barrier it helps shave off an additional layer of those that, frankly, I probably don't want to be gaming with anyway.

    3. For Pennies a Day…. You cheap bastards, if you add it all up, the cost of a pay-to-play service is just over one game throughout the course of a year. Is that really -- honestly? -- going to break the bank? :D

    4. Banworthy. Purchasing a pay-to-play service makes you less likely to modify or risk being banned: you paid for the service! So, two gamers, all things being equal, and they have the opportunity to cheat/be an asshat online: who do you think is less likely to do so? That's right, the guy who paid for his service. The ability to have other players leave feedback and adjust your rating also helps keep players respectful and focused on having fun. On a free service you can be the biggest jerk in the world; you've got nothing to lose!

    5. Value-added. The revenue from a pay-to-play service also finds its way back to the customers. It makes the justification of server upgrades easier, new content, etc. On a free service the infrastructure is just hemorrhaging money; the company has little impetus to keep it state-of-the art. Not so with pay-to-play.

    Now for the anecdotal parts. Those who know me also know that I hate anecdotal evidence. It's crap and tells you nothing. :) So, here's mine: in the 4+ years I've owned my Xbox and Live I've never had a friend/buddy/acquaintance who did not think Live was worth every penny. Everyone I know has Live (20+ Xbox owners). The only ones that don't wish they could but don't have broadband. For a recent coworker who just went nuts and bought a 360 with everything, I counseled him to hold off on Live if he wasn't interested in online play. A week later I get a Friend Request from him on my Dashboard and I ask if he likes Live (remember, we can voice chat even though I'm in Utah and he's in Oregon) and he says "How could I not? Live is awesome!" Joe Newbie, total convert with his first-ever console. So we all just happen to be drinking the same KoolAid or is it possible, just possible, that the service is that good and is worth it? Think about it....

    Sure, the other companies can replicate all of the above but my point is, all things being equal, a pay-to-play service offers you more than a free service in quality, service, and uptime and it is in the company's best interests to keep you happy; you're a paying customer after all!
     
  2. Haoshiro macrumors 68000

    Haoshiro

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  3. Dagless macrumors Core

    Dagless

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    #3
    I dunno. I use the example of PC games. Only a handful of games have some sort of subscription (only WoW, Ragnarok and FF-whatever come to mind), whereas HL2 and Guild Wars and other incredible games are totally free.

    I prefer free myself. I'm loving the DS's free play, and HL2. I pay broadband fee's already. I don't want to pay a penny more. Not a penny, especially when the game is hosted from another machine.
     
  4. GFLPraxis macrumors 604

    GFLPraxis

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    #4
    I readily admit it. Frankly, I've played PC games online for YEARS, heavily, and never paid a *dime*. I'm currently a poor college student (yes, that's an ad misericordiam fallacy, sorry, just got out of class) and want to avoid any monthly fees. I've hosted my own Dynaverse (a sorta low-bandwidth MMO, with over a hundred players on at one time but when you go into a battle it's between you and the opponents, saving bandwidth) servers.

    Sometimes I use GameSpy's client (advertisements but free), and other times I use built in server browsers, but I never had a problem. I don't mind advertisements if I'm not paying.

    If Microsoft took the same service, and gave me the option of advertisements for free or no advertisements for $5 a month, I'd take the advertisements and be happy.
    Sure, the other companies can replicate all of the above[/QUOTE]

    Precisely my complaint. It doesn't HAVE to cost money.

    I'd reply more in depth but I'm heading out for E3. I do understand your arguement however, and you make good points, but my opinion differs.

    Cya!
     
  5. 2nyRiggz macrumors 603

    2nyRiggz

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    #5
    I rather the free online play....but i would pay for services once the service is top notch.

    You will always encounter the idiots on the net no matter what...just gotta deal with them....with a slug to the head(in the game of course)


    Bless
     
  6. takao macrumors 68040

    takao

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    #6
    well i still take the free

    and some of your aguments don't really hold like the ban argument:
    you think microsoft will swing the Ban-stick a lot when they rely on the live income ? i think not

    same for paid = better.. after all it's stil leconomy and people will rather get free beer than pay for beer which tastes perhaps 20% more
    (look at google's free services)

    that aside as far as i know with the xbox live gold micrsoft still doesn't provide dedicated servers but still does simply peer-peer connection
    and all the other content besides online play has to be hosted anyway for the free silver account

    pennies a day: xbox live is 60€ around here .. that's in my book a lot for the simple fact that microsoft simply is doing interconnects and hosting demos/some themes 60 * console life of 4-5 years = 240-300 euros or converted ~380 dollars so you are essentially paying the same amount that you paid for your console in the first place depending when you bought it
    how about another console with an extra controller and 2 full price games and 2 budget titles ?

    but so far i haven't met somebody in real life who owned or used it and those who own an original xbox aren't exactly going crazy about the idea of life

    after all most people who have internet have a PC anyways and are playing on those already if they are interested in multiplayer.. including myself

    i'm mostly a PC gamer and wouldn't pay online no matter what plattform/company just for playing online


    don't get me wrong: i believe you that the service might be really good but you and Microsoft ( ;) ) have to ask: "is the service that much better that people will pay for it ?"
    the amount of xbox live users didn't "explode" on the 360 because the service is "that much better" .. it grew that much because they offered a free service as well
    and nintendos rather crude DS online service took 1/5 - 1/6 of the time xbox live needed to reach 1 million and that with a hand full of games (3 on launch) on a handheld
    sorry i really like the 360 a lot better than the original and some games are really interesting but seriously: if they stick to the pay-to-play they _might_ get easily stomped by the other 2 in sheer online players
     
  7. Abulia thread starter macrumors 68000

    Abulia

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    #7
    My intent isn't to diss the "value" or the features of free services but to underscore that you get more from a pay-for-play service. Not only in raw hardware, infrastructure, and performance but also from the social aspect (eg. the higher barrier to entry).

    I think there's room for both, but until you've tried XBL, for example, I think it's disengeous at best to say it's "not worth it."

    I also don't think the parallel to free PC games is accurate; that's one game. Pay-for-play services, again like XBL, are handling millions of subscribers, voice chat, downloadable content, 720p movie trailers, etc, plus great online play.

    HL and Steam can't come close to providing that.
    K, now you're just showing off! :D
     
  8. Abulia thread starter macrumors 68000

    Abulia

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    #8
    Yes. From Xbox Solution:
    Last figures I have are 2 million subscribers (07/2005) and 10 million anticipated by 2007. I have no figures for Nintendo. Anyone?
    Because many 360 owners were existing Xbox/XBL owners and our subscriptions transferred over; I didn't have to "re-pay" when I got my 360, for example.
     
  9. Haoshiro macrumors 68000

    Haoshiro

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    #9
    Also keep in mind that pay-to-play services have better control on cheating and hacking.

    Because you can't play online at all without a Live account it becomes much harder to even figure out how to hack/cheat and if you do you can easily be banned (and yes, they would do it in a heartbeat regardless of the fact they make money from that subscriber).

    So it's a controlled atmosphere and something that will, in my opinion, keep the experience funner then a completely free service. If PS3 has a very upon structure I just foresee *more* problems and having to deal with *more* punks online.

    Companies need to be able to justify the amount of revenue they lose in the online service. If ads get that for them then good (Sony's method, perhaps?) but Abulia's point remains, if they are *losing* money on the service then getting them to upgrade and maintain the infrastructure will be less of a priority.

    Nintendo themselves mentioned they had not, until recently, seen a viable way to make money online and is why they had not doing anything sooner. Obviously making money is a key element to the entire thing... Free <> Money.
     
  10. takao macrumors 68040

    takao

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    #10
  11. Abulia thread starter macrumors 68000

    Abulia

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    #11
    From CNN today:
    So a 50% sell-through rate on XBL is pretty amazing.
     
  12. Dagless macrumors Core

    Dagless

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    #12
    One point that came to mind. I don't play online much. I mean the last time I played Metroid Hunters was about 2 weeks back, along with Mario Kart. but before that the last wi-fi game I played was oooh so long ago. I've always preferred single player to multi player games.
    If you don't play online much then there's just to point.

    Anyways. Pay-to-play? um, it's pay-monthly? or can you pay 50p or whatever for a game on Xbox Live?
     
  13. takao macrumors 68040

    takao

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    #13
    how many are using a free silver account and how many a gold account ?

    answer: nobody except microsoft knows since they are rather closed lipped about that aren't they ? ;)
     
  14. jakethesnake macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2006
    #14
    I had Xbox live on Xbox 1, and thought it was great. At the same time though all I did was play games and I never had a problem with playing PS2 online. Maybe I was just lucky, but it played exactly the same as live. So from past experience I would have to say free.
     
  15. MRU macrumors demi-god

    MRU

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    Ireland
    #15
    I have to say I don't mind paying for xbox live sub. Costs slightly less that 1 game per year and I get an immense pleasure from some of the online games I play, COD2, GRAW, PD0, Co-Op on Kameo etc..... In fact up until I got broadband last december (rural ireland has major bad broadband infrastructure) I didn't realise what I was missing, now i play most of my xbox 360 on live and have spent far more time on live with them than I have single player.

    I imagine with Sony or Nintendo, eventually we will be paying one way or the other anyway so i'm not fussed :)
     

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