Why are we still paying a premium to play games online on consoles? It’s costing console faithfuls anywhere between AUD$100-200 every year just to play their favourite games. More if you have both PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold. Are we being scammed?

I’ve been a console gamer all my life. I still vividly remember being a kid and unwrapping the classic Nintendo Entertainment System on Christmas eve with my brother. Ever since then I have been a console enthusiast and owned nearly every system.

Reaction: Kid gets classic Nintendo (NES) for Christmas
The best day of some kid’s life.

Xbox Live and PlayStation Plus Woes

Consoles may not hold a candle up to the power a personal computer can dish out but still, in many ways, offers so much more. There is just something special about video-game consoles. They have an expansive library of games and cater to all categories of gamers: couch, casual and even competitive. This is because the games industry started on consoles

Personal computers were rarely found in people’s home back in the day because they were too expensive. Developers instead put all their focus on creating games for consoles. Even today, although mostly because of piracy, developers mostly support consoles over PCs. They do this by developing for them and then porting them to other platforms. This means gamers had to own at least one console if they wanted to play the latest games.

Old school Duke Nukem on a 386 DOS PC | Sausage Roll
Playing Duke Nukem on PC while scrubs play Mario Bros.

A divided community

Today the console community is divided. To truly get the best of both worlds you need to own the Xbox and the PlayStation (and now the Nintendo Switch). Both of these consoles have must play exclusive titles with great online game modes, so you need to have two active premium subscriptions to be able to play them. Whether you are paying monthly, quarterly or annually it still ads up, with the minimum being AUD$200 if you own both consoles. And it is not just the exclusives that are locked behind this unreasonable paywall, popular third party titles are as well. But why?

These premium networks don’t offer anything that you cannot get for free on PC already with Battle Net, Origin, Uplay and Steam. Steam is a perfect example of this; it has cloud storage, VOIP, a secure DRM system, inbuilt streaming service, friend lists, and communities. It also allows indie developers to publish directly to the platform. Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus don’t offer much more than that.

Ah, memories. Sweet, sweet memories. credit: @dosnostalgic

It’s not worth it.

The free game aren’t freebies at all. The second you decide to cancel your subscription you lose access to all the titles you got for being a PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live Gold member. Also, people don’t really care for the free games.

PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold are scams | Sausage Roll
Or just play it on PC for free!

The discounts are not really discounts if you’re already paying extra to use the service. Its more like a tax rebate. That’s unless you buy maybe 3 or 4 games a month.

And last but not least they don’t even host the game servers, the publishers do. Yet we have to pay Sony and/or Microsoft to be able to use a service that they don’t manage. The only thing these premium services do is act as a glorified digital right management system. It is supposed to give publishers some piece of mind knowing that people aren’t playing pirated copies of the game. It is super effective but it comes at the player’s expense, and it shouldn’t.

We are not pirates.

I have been a PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold subscriber for over 12 years. This means I have paid an extra AUD$3000 just to occasionally play games online and store my save games in the cloud. I have not used the discounts, because, despite them, the games are still cheaper when you buy physically copies. I cancelled my subscription recently because I moved abroad, and now I cannot play any of the games that I allegedly got for free for being a member. Nor can I play with my friends online until I pay another $10.00 minimum to prove that I didn’t pirate the game.

Sony and Microsoft don’t need to charge for these services. They make enough from game sales, publisher fees and advertisement. They are just charging us extra because they know that we will pay up. I mean, we’ve already forked out a few hundred for the hardware and a few extra for all the peripherals and replacements to play games we can play on PC. So, why not shake us up for that extra $10 or so. We’re suckers.

To charge us extra to verify that we are not pirates is just too much. We shouldn’t have pay to play games we already paid for, even if its only to play online.

Tear down these Paywalls.

They ought to completely abolish these paywalls before the release of the next generation consoles. They’re an insult to the consumers who paid top dollar for their hardware. Guilty of piracy until proven innocent. The only way to prove your innocence is by paying extra for the online service.

Sony PlayStation 5 - PlayStaion Plus Sausage Roll

If people start acting like this is not okay then both Sony and Microsoft will have no choice but make the service free. Microsoft locked Netflix behind this stupid paywall, that only changed because people complained. So, lets start complaining again.

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