Xbox One: Charging for “Key Features”

Xbox One features

Tons and tons of features for sale!

This does not seem all that surprising, considering the company involved and their previous actions so far. Considering the blatant grab for pervasion on display with initial Xbox One reveal, this comes across as a logical next step. Naturally, Microsoft is understandably seeking other revenues for market control and profit:

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“Key features of Microsoft’s Xbox One console, which is expected to go on sale in November, will only be available with an annual subscription […]”

“An Xbox Live Gold account that currently costs $60 (£40) will be needed for all these features […]”

“Microsoft revealed the requirement in an update to webpages detailing the Xbox One’s features.

The webpage shows that, as with the current Xbox 360, a Live Gold account is needed if owners want to use their new console for online multiplayer gaming, watch Netflix or similar streaming services and to browse the web via their TV. 

In addition, on the Xbox One the annual subscription will let players share videos with friends. The console records a rolling sample of a player’s previous five minutes gameplay to make it easier to share key moments.

The payment will also let owners chat to friends via video on Skype and use the OneGuide and SmartMatch services [….]”

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All of this begs the question: What exactly is a “key feature?” Almost everything listed in the article is something that can be gained either through another, perhaps more convenient and already established outlet, or possess a plethora of “workarounds,” if warranted.

One interesting counter-argument that some have brought up can be summed up as follows:

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“If you can afford a $400-$500 console, then you can afford a $60 yearly subscription.”

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The problems with this argument are two-fold:

  1. As many others have stated, many people merely save up for a console, as most probably do not have a spare $500 lying around to support such financial whims. It is also no one’s business to determine or dictate what other people can or cannot afford.
  2. That $60 subscription does not exist in a vacuum. When considering everything in total, it can add up to be a very heft financial burden; a $500 console, $60+ or – per game, a $60 subscription fee, having to purchase or replace any peripherals (such as a headset, extra memory/storage, the Kinect), etc.

Again, considering the diminished amount of dispensable funds many people have, along with many of these features either being accessed or done better elsewhere and having a number of reasonable workarounds, and it canal be a deal breaker.

Then again, perhaps Microsoft is working off of rather specific statistics, such as the ones provided in this chart by the ESRB (information provided as of 2010):

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  • The average age of a gamer – 34 years
  • The average age of [the] most frequent game purchaser – 39 years
  • Gamers under the age of 18 – 25%
  • Gamers over the age of 50 – 26%
  • 2008 Primary Console Male Players – Xbox 360: 38% – Wii: 41% – PS3: 21%
  • 40% of all gamers are female

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Considering that the majority of and most frequent video game consumers and purchasers are around 34-39 years of age, which is a financially juicy market, then much of what they are doing is, again, of little surprise.

Another interesting fact is that approximately 40% of all gamers are female. This could help to explain the fervent focus on integrating social media into these devices. Though that would not make much sense, as the primary users for these specific features, women, already do not care as much for gaming and consoles as their male counterparts. This of course in addition to the fact that they more than likely already possess more than adequate and accessible outlets for such features; i.e. computers and smartphones, for their Facebook adventures and self-shots.

Duck face

Perhaps it would be better to discourage the “self-shooter” phenomena…

Regardless, the whole ordeal comes across as Microsoft not necessarily learning the lesson that complete and total arrogance does not sell well, and gouging consumers for more money does not provide a reasonable compliment. Though many people will probably still buy the product(s) regardless, so all of this speculation may be in vain.

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