By Ryan Browne ’20
I grew up with Nintendo consoles and PC games, but my senior year of high school, I decided to get an Xbox One. Beforehand, I had no idea that I had to pay $60 per year to play online, and I wasn’t too pleased with having to pay that. Albeit, I paid it and was able to play online and received “free” games. But once I ran out, I did not have the means to pay for Xbox Live Gold, and I found I could no longer play the games they gave me. This is a reality for many console gamers worldwide. I came to find this pay wall unnecessary and somewhat selfish of Sony and Microsoft. With the money you give Microsoft or Sony, you are not playing for servers, those free games you get do not stick around forever, and for those that cannot pay for the multiplayer, it is simply a pay wall.
When you give money to Sony or Microsoft, you would expect that you would be paying for servers. But that is not the case. The servers are run by the game developers, not the console developers. Microsoft and Sony have an entire monopoly on charging their customers for online multiplayer.
According to an article by pcworld.com, “[Xbox] Live Gold allows Microsoft to subsidize everything from the consoles itself to the ‘Game with Gold’ program.”
That means players are charged $60-$120 per year to play online games when that money does not go into servers. Meanwhile, PC players are can play games with their friends for free.
Now you could think that money goes into the free games, which in some ways it does. But if that were the case, you would be able to keep those games after the subscription ends since you already paid the money for them. However, Microsoft and Sony do not seem to think so. Once your Xbox Live Gold or Playstation Plus subscription ends, those free games you receive are not playable any more. To get those games back you have to pay for the subscription again. This makes these free games of a “free” rental. Going back to the PC side of things, PC gamers have a plethora of free games to choose from at any time.
For people that pay that money every year, they may think that $60 is not that much to pay for the features and that the payment is entirely voluntary. Sure they could argue that, but for players of lower income families that want to play with their friends, that $60 payment is out of reach. Some people do not have the monetary means to pay for the subscription, so they are stuck to playing offline. According to an article by Gamespot, there are only 20.8 million PlayStation Plus subscribers, compared to the 60 million active PlayStation users. Microsoft and Sony keep players from playing with their friends because they want money from their consumers.
If someone wanted to play online with his/her friends on video game consoles, then he/she would have to pay $60. If they wanted to play online with your friends on PC, then they would just do it. You do not have to pay for online on PC, but you do for console. Does that make sense? Sure you could say you get free games, but you get free games all the time on PC as well. It is understandable why one would want to play on console because of the convenience of it, but that should not mean you have to pay for it.