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Microsoft's Big Bet on Online Gaming

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the my-favorite-place-to-be-swore-at dept.

XBox (Games) 351

Carl Bialik from the WSJ writes "The Wall Street Journal Online analyzes the prospects of the Xbox's online-gaming component. Analysts say Microsoft has spent hundreds of millions on Xbox Live, with little guarantees of returns. 'It is not clear that companies like Microsoft and Sony will be able to lure large numbers of players -- each has attracted a small fraction of users to online play with their previous consoles,' WSJ Online writes. 'The companies also must be careful about new business models for distributing games -- such as games-on-demand -- so as not to alienate game publishers, who still rely heavily on in-store sales. And games designed for multiple players have a mixed record of attracting customers.' Says analyst Michael Pachter, 'At the end of the day, we don't play games for social interaction ... We play games to escape.' Microsoft's strategy is 'absolutely flawed,' he added.""

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Keith Curtis's Big Bet on First Post! (1)

Keith Curtis (923118) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365514)

You are ALL bitches to KC!

Um (2, Interesting)

Asakusa (941025) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365516)

I don't play games to escape anything. It's like saying "You build model boats to escape from society". That's utter bullshit. Hell, I'll go to a local computer gaming place to kick the crap out of all the people there in Counter Strike as a social interaction.

Next time someone wants to tell me why I'm playing video games, tell it to my face.

Re:Um (4, Interesting)

Alex P Keaton in da (882660) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365553)

There was an interesting interview in this month's Maxim with the head game designer at Nintendo (I think that is his title, he is the guy that invented Mario Bros etc.)
He said the big challenge is that games have become so complex, that there are no casual gamers. That the world has been divided into two types of people: those who play games, and those who don't play games.
I see his point- I haven't played a video game in years, aside from ones that can be learned in 5 minutes. I just don't have the time to spend hours every day attaining levels and learning complex controls and commands.

Re:Um (1)

7macaw (933316) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365620)

Hmm, games do become more sophisticated but, on the other hand, if you played Quake 10 years ago, then you won't have trouble with Doom 3. Same controls, same idea, same, shall we say, MO (blast their heads off ;)). This allows me to casually buy new games and start playing right away, whenever I have some spare time.

Re:Um (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14365677)

Doom 3 still takes time to get into. You cannot really have a quick, fun 10 minute game of Doom in your coffee break. Hell it takes more than 10 minutes to get to a point where you can shoot stuff at the start of the game. Most games today take a time investment that most people aren't willing to make.

Re:Um (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365640)

Don't start now, then :)

In online games, you can actually lose "levels" if you play poorer that day than your average.

Re:Um (1)

d34thm0nk3y (653414) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365696)

I haven't played a video game in years, aside from ones that can be learned in 5 minutes. I just don't have the time to spend hours every day attaining levels and learning complex controls and commands.

Pick up one of the Katamari games or Rez if you have a ps2. Both are very original (which is lacking in a lot of games these days), simple, and fun.

Time (1)

wombatmobile (623057) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365781)

I just don't have the time to spend hours every day attaining levels and learning complex controls and commands.

Didn't you used to do that?

What has changed with your priorities that now you "don't have time"?

Re:Um (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14365572)

Hell, I'll go to a local computer gaming place to kick the crap out of all the people there in Counter Strike as a social interaction.

Yes, you sound like you're very well adjusted socially.

Re:Um (2, Interesting)

johneee (626549) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365580)

Well, you have to look at who said that: Michael Pachter, an analyst with Wedbush Morgan Securities

What the heck does a Securities analyst know about gaming? Looking at his comments, I'd say not a whole heck of a lot.

Re:Um (1)

ZakuSage (874456) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365581)

Different people play video games for different reasons. It was wrong for TFA author to generalize, but I for one do play games to escape.

Re:Um (4, Interesting)

nine-times (778537) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365591)

Why do you think anyone builds model boats? Because model boats are so useful?

Most hobbies are an advanced (and not necessarily bad) form of procrastination. It's a purposeful 'doing what you don't have to do' so that you don't have to think about anything that you do have to do. It's an escape. An escape from your life and your responsibilities. Playing online isn't real social interaction, even if playing multiplayer games in the same room can be.

Sorry, this is as close to "to your face" as I can get.

Re:Um (3, Insightful)

Asakusa (941025) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365627)

I don't know. I would build model boats because it's interesting. It's the same reason I play guitar, because it's easy to pick up and fun. And I do it after I have done my 18 hours of work that day, so it's not procrastination or putting off of responsibility. I enjoy it. Just like I enjoy gaming. Not because of some psychobabble "I am hiding from life by having a hobby". Not that you are saying that, but this article is.

Re:Um (3, Insightful)

shy (108614) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365643)

I see your point regarding procrastination, but I disagree with playing online not being real social interaction. There would have to be some set definition of what real social interaction is, for this to be true. Does real social interaction require physical presence in the same area? If so, then talking to your friend on the phone isn't social interaction, and that's just untrue.

Re:Um (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365855)

I would say talking on the phone is a minor form of social interaction, and is no substitute for being in-person in the same room. However, at least then the activity takes the specific form of direct interaction with another person (as in, there is no purpose other than to converse). However, online game-playing has neither the virtue of real interaction (in person) nor direct interaction (where there is no interveining purpose). The only social need it fulfills is game-playing (in the broad sense, that even in conversations, people play games), and in most games, even this is only fulfilled in a superficial way.

Re:Um (1)

LionKimbro (200000) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365678)

Most hobbies are an advanced (and not necessarily bad) form of procrastination. It's a purposeful 'doing what you don't have to do' so that you don't have to think about anything that you do have to do. It's an escape. An escape from your life and your responsibilities.

Whaaa-?

What about people who live lives of leisure, without responsibilities, without having to do anything? When they're practicing their hobby, is it something totally different than people who do have some responsibilities?

Man, I feel sorry for you; You must lead a sad life.

Are you a survivalist, perchance? Is your responsibility, when you have no responsibility, merely to ensure survival against a prioritized list of most likely threats to sustained existance? Is everyone else just neglecting their responsibilities?

Re:Um (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365809)

Everyone has responsibilities. Not all responsibilities can be taken care of with money. Not even the most important ones.

To spend some portion of the day avoiding thoughts of these responsibilities isn't the same as neglecting them. That would be like claiming that you've neglected your work because you've spent some time resting. However, it wouldn't be unreasonable to claim that rest is the thing you do when avoiding activity/work, or that leisure is what you do when avoiding responsibility.

And by "procrastination", I mean just that-- a putting-off of those things for which you're responsibile, for no real reason besides to put them off. Not partaking in procrastination is unhealthy in much the same way as refusing to sleep would be.

Re:Um (2, Insightful)

toad3k (882007) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365763)

You assume that nothing is gained from a hobby. Imagine if all you ever did was work day in and day out. Most jobs cannot fulfill a person mentally, physically, and socially in a way that will make you into a better person. So you need to supplement it.

Playing is just another word for training. We are wired to train when we don't have pressing concerns. The only thing is that in this day and age we've replaced a ball and stick with a controller and a mouse in some cases.

This is just the way I think about it.

Re:Um (1)

grub (11606) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365783)


Interesting observation. I thought about the time spent on hobbies or gaming when I could do something else more constructive (ie.: I was wanting to install a few wall sconce lights in the basement this week as I have it off. And it's now Friday, sconces still in the boxes.)

That said, a bit of recreation time isn't a bad thing. No one can tear me away from the Thief series of games. :)

Re:Um (1)

__dtrance (450063) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365624)

It's interesting that many people don't "get" it. My girlfriend, and ex-wife didn't understand that while I was playing MMO's, I was being social. It may not have been face-to-face, but I was still interacting with hundreds, if not thousands of people throughout the world.

Re:Um (1)

DrMrLordX (559371) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365840)

Sadly, being social with hundreds of people throughout the world often falls below being social with one's girlfriend, wife, significant other, etc. Or, at least, it does in their eyes.

Re:Um (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14365666)

Wow isn't that a bit of an over reaction? All this guy is trying to say is that the majority of people enjoy sinking into a game to get away from reality. You also just stated that you play multiplayer games so this guy is also trying to say that your opinion of multiplayer games is in the minority.

Re:Um (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14365712)

You are a sad, little man.

Re:Um (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14365823)

I guess what we can take away from this is that Michael Pachter [gamespot.com] is a complete moron.

Re:Um (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14365826)

"Next time someone wants to tell me why I'm playing video games, tell it to my face."

Caring father - My sweet little Jimmy, playing GTA as usual.. Is homework done? Playing to escape work?
Sweet Little Jimmy - TELL ME THAT IN MY FACE! Then I will beat you! Like the whores!

Re:Um (3, Insightful)

Ectospheno (724239) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365850)

I'll have to respectfully disagree with your assertion that gaming is about social interaction. I have a college degree, a job, a wife, and two small children. I don't get much gaming time but the time I do get is most definitely an escape. Don't get me wrong, I like my job and I love my family. But for an hour or so a night (usually after the kids bedtime) I get to escape.

Sometimes (okay, a lot of the time) my escape is Burnout and I get to drive like a maniac while slamming into other cars. Other times my escape is Mercenaries and I get to run around in a tank and blow shit up. Other times my escape is an RPG where I save the world from (insert bad guy here). I do online game occasionally but that is a rare occurance. My hour is mine and a single player game is the best escape there is.

I get my "social gaming" in once or twice a month when some friends from work get together and hook up the game systems to a wall projector. And that's fun because we can sit around, chat, and drink beer. We tried the "gathering" online once and it flopped.

I'd be very, very surprised if I'm alone in this view. I believe you'll find that you are the minority and the XBox live numbers (or lack thereof) back that up.

This guy missed the point of online gaming . . . (5, Insightful)

mmell (832646) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365526)

Machines and 'bots can only go so far to provide a challenging fun gaming experience - witness the number of Quake servers on the 'net at any given time.

Online gaming is about gaming getting back to it's roots - "me vs. you". Playing against a console is essentially a souped-up version of solitaire. Fun, distracting, but nothing like the rush of defeating an opponent with the same chance of victory as defeat.

Re:This guy missed the point of online gaming . . (4, Insightful)

Skidge (316075) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365564)

I agree. After I kicked my Everquest habit a few years back, playing single-player games seems to be lacking something. Even playing solo, an online game adds an extra dimension with the random encounters with other players and the background chatter. A single-player game now seems to me to be very quiet and isolated. Sometimes that's a good thing, but being online with other players can add more depth to a player's experience.

Re:This guy missed the point of online gaming . . (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365660)

Very true. I'd be an instant convert to online gaming if:

A) There were no monthly costs, just the purchase fee
B) You could still play the game in single-player mode (with the same character) if the company pulls the plug.

Re:This guy missed the point of online gaming . . (2, Informative)

Stradenko (160417) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365747)

Many people have found Guild Wars [guildwars.com] to be the answer to your A ... As for B...Probably not likely (but a neat idea).

Re:This guy missed the point of online gaming . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14365762)

If you are into RPGs Guild Wars is a game that you might like. It costs $50 but there are no monthly fees (atleast yet, hopefully never). I don't think there is a single player version, but you can play with friends, PvP, or even group up with NPCs to complete your quests. It has some of the similarities of games such as EverQuest or WoW, while not having some of the annoyances. Of course Guild Wars has its own drawbacks, but what game doesn't?

Re:This guy missed the point of online gaming . . (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365632)

Yeah, plus it's just not satisfying saying "HAHA PWNED!!!!11``oneone" to your Xbox.

Re:This guy missed the point of online gaming . . (1)

hawridger (929560) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365638)

I agree. Part of the attraction of gaming is the social aspect. It can be an escape - from the real world, but the fact that your playing against someone else makes it more real in your gaming world, thus more intense. I'll rarely shell out $50 for a game anymore if it isn't online compatible. Although I like a good RPG when I've got time to devote to it, there's nothing like sitting down for an hour for a few rounds of Halo 2 or PGR with other human opponents on Live. I picked the Xbox over the PS2 for 2 reasons; the Halo franchise and the Live integration. I disagree that MS has missed the mark. The online integration may not hit big in this generation of consoles, but it's coming. Think of Live integration in Xbox 1 as a kind of beta test. It worked. The updates on 360's Live bring more promise to the business model, including as the author pokes at, on-demand gaming. A recent interview with J. Allard pointed out things to come just like this. I think MS's business model is right on track and I hope Sony rolls out something similar to Live for the PS3 in order to create a more competitive market for us consumers to choose from.

Re:This guy missed the point of online gaming . . (1)

MikeURL (890801) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365796)

I enjoyed Halo 1 as a standalone game. I enjoyed Halo 2 as a standalone game. It was fun to put a few hours into each and get to the end...then it was like "so what". With the Live component I find I go back again and again because even if the maps don't change--the people do. I have had some really good, and really frustrating times playing other people in Halo.

One thing is sure, the notion of turning on the Xbox and playing "offline" seems absurd to me now. Without the RJ45 in the back I would throw the thing out.

Re:This guy missed the point of online gaming . . (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365664)

I don't know about you, but I don't consider a "fun gaming experience" to play against a lot of spoiled 10 year olds who want to do nothing but cheat. Every time I've tried to play *any* game online, I've been sorely disappointed. I'm perfectly happy to play against the computer, where I have at least a *chance* of winning, and I don't have to deal with lots of spoiled little ADD shits.

You need to find a better gaming server . . . (1)

mmell (832646) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365736)

or perhaps stand up your own gaming server, and ban cheats! It's already been done.

Re:This guy missed the point of online gaming . . (1)

C0deM0nkey (203681) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365832)

Wishing I had mod-points right now.

This was nearly the same thought that occurred to me when I read the OP. There is very little that I find alluring, at all, about online gaming primarily *because* of the people who play online games. I realize that I am generalizing, to some extent, but to say that online gaming is a level playing field where all participants have the same chance of victory is just wishful thinking. Cheats, cheats, cheats and sore losers who drop connection before end-game.

Quite true (2, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365807)

All skill level concerns aside, there's just something more fun about knowing you beat another human being. Often the humans I play online are inferior in skill to the bots in the game but I still have more fun at it.

Also, for many people social interaction is not an insignificant part of online gaming. I left a guild in World of Warcraft because it became in essence a big support group. Not what I was after, but there were plenty of people who liked it that way.

All I have to say to this idiot author is "Blizzard, bitch." Five million people paying them about $15 per month, for the privledge of playing just one game online (on top of their ISP fees). Know what? I'm going to say that there's something to the whole online gameing thing, to the tune of a billion dollars a year in Blizzard's case.

Uh, yea? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14365530)

Yea, people play games to avoid other people and "escape." That's why so many people enjoy playing games with their friends, online or sitting at home with their console. The article's conclusion is "absolutely flawed."

We don't play games for social interaction ... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14365531)

What a load. I guess he never played Battlefield 2. The social interaction against real humans vs bots is crystal clear to me. This seems just another MS slam article where something obviously not true becomes true becuase it is associated with MS. Yet another proud achievement of the Slashdot editorial stance.

Tell this to Blizzard (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14365533)

3.5 million customers x $15/month is nothing to sneeze at.

MOD UP (1)

Ignignot (782335) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365650)

That's exactly what I was going to say. The WSJ is completely wrong to think that just because online games on consoles haven't been big in the past, they won't be big in the future.

Re:Tell this to Blizzard (1)

dc29A (636871) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365687)

You mean 5 million [blizzard.com] ?

Little Guarantees of Return? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14365538)

Live is the most important aspect for the xbox 360 ... look at battle.net for example, it's practically destroyed most korean youth. If it's as easy as fun as that service then MS will kill everything even is ps3 looks twice as nice.

Costs (1)

wombatmobile (623057) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365539)

The company has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on its online service, Xbox Live, analysts say.

I'm not sure how they spent such a large budget, considering what they have built. Skype and Flickr for example were each built for a small fraction of that.

Re:Costs (1)

Alex P Keaton in da (882660) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365574)

It says hundreds of millions for its online service- not just the network. I imagine they include marketing expenses etc in that...

online games make up for a poor story/game (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14365543)


why have a good story and specific game objectives when you can just ditch all your AI and let the users figure it out for themselves

what is the obsession with "online gaming" ? it seems to be a trend for bad games, as if sticking it online will make it any better
anyway the less my equipment talks to microsoft and their spyware data collection servers the better

Gaming is often a social act (5, Insightful)

MikeD03C (766484) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365552)

I would have to completely disagree with the idea that people play games to escape. Gaming, especially for younger people, is a hugely social thing. Walk around a college campus in the dorms and you'd be hard pressed to not find a multiplayer Halo game going on. While some may use games to escape, I think the trend is towards social gaming.

Re:Gaming is often a social act (3, Insightful)

JasonY1982 (938312) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365717)

I agree completely...you go around a college campus and you will plenty of students playing multiplayer games (primarily Halo). Last year at times I would see cabling going from a window on a 3rd floor in a window on the 2nd of an apartment building in order link up xbox's so 8 people could play halo.

Playing single player versions of games are fun and a good way to learn the game and storyline. However, it can only take you so far once you complete the game. Not to mention after playing the game for a period of time you will learn different things to outsmart the AI of your enemies making the game easier and less fun. It is at this point where online gaming increases the longevity of the game. People who enjoy the game will want more of a challenge and can only get that playing against other people. You have new strategies against real people, can work together to attack a base or defeat a boss - it adds a completely new dimension to the game. Thus, online gaming is a huge part of a successful business model.

Sure very good single player games will make money in the market, but if you think back on your best gaming experiences or moments - chances are they were against your friends or against other people. Online capibility can make certain types of games even better.

Online gaming is getting bigger and bigger... (1)

HerculesMO (693085) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365558)

Though I don't see XBox being the centre of that phenomena, nor will it lead the pack. If anything, the future will only encourage users into purchasing a PC for use in gaming -- not an XBox. Granted, the XBox is an impressive piece of hardware, but when you start playing World of Warcraft and realize why the keyboard and mouse are great -- then you will realize the flawed idea of a controller and a virtual world that will bring you only so far, but not all the way with regard to the online gaming experience.

And in a sense, the comment made about escaping reality is true. However, my escape from reality includes kicking the shit out of people online which in real life, I would only hope to do. So unfortunately his theory of playing games to escape holds little water. If I want to escape and be alone... I'll masturbate.

Online games risky? (2, Insightful)

shinma (106792) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365560)

And how many people play World of Warcraft, again?

Right. No money to be made in the online gaming market.

PC vs. Console (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365652)

You have two very different types of gamer demographics: MMO players and console gamers. MMO players tend to dedicate massive amounts of time to their game (tend to... there are a few exceptions). Console gamers... while some do play a lot many are casual or play in bursts. Consoles let you do that. You can save your game, turn off the console and walk away. Also bear in mind until just recently consoles did not allow for networked play, much less internet play.

I think microsoft will be successful but they do realize they are hitting up a different demographic then the typical PC gamer.

Re:PC vs. Console (2, Insightful)

aredubya74 (266988) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365817)

Consoles and PCs are entirely different media setups, and generally encourage different types of gaming.

In my experience, the vast majority of consoles in family homes are hooked up to the biggest TV set in the household, be it in the living room or family room/den. These are generally shared, communal spaces, with competition for screen time an issue (whether it be for watching cable TV, a Tivo'ed program, or console playing). The joysticks are the input devices that games are built around, which allow for local one-on-one play alongside networked play.

The PC, on the other hand, is often in a bedroom or office, tucked away in a more private location. The monitor is far smaller, lending itself to more intimate experiences (no, not pr0n...well, not all the time :) ). The single keyboard and mouse set are the primary input devices, used by a single user at a time, no extras. The games they encourage revolve around longer play sessions, with more private communication.

In short, Microsoft's attempts to bring the intimacy of the PC setting, and the monthly fees intimate games can bring (MMOs and gambling games, for example) to the console setting is a prima facie failure. You simply cannot reliably get enough eyes to sit in front of the (shared) TV to play an online game and make it worthwhile.

Re:Online games risky? (1)

ShibaInu (694434) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365800)

I think it is important to read this realizing that the point of view is from an investment analyst. Online gaming may have a very dedicated following, but it may be a saturated market. If Microsoft paid hundreds of millions to build an integrated online system that only five million people will ever use, it will hurt their bottom line (a tiny bit).

I play games for social interaction. (5, Insightful)

shy (108614) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365562)

The only game I play that isn't about playing with other people is Civilization IV. Otherwise, every game I enjoy has some element of either a) competition, b) cooperation, or c) both. Counter-strike, WoW, etc, would be the most prominent examples for me.

If people don't play games for social interaction, why is the chat screen constantly rolling on most multiplayer games? Why do people join clans/guilds/etc? How do you organize a 40 person raid on an imaginary dungeon? I can't get 40 people together in real life, but I can in a game. And that's not about social interaction?

Re:I play games for social interaction. (2, Insightful)

evilneko (799129) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365630)

Just gotta poke fun ;)

If people don't play games for social interaction, why is the chat screen constantly rolling on most multiplayer games?
People like to talk trash, clearleh.

How do you organize a 40 person raid on an imaginary dungeon? I can't get 40 people together in real life, but I can in a game. And that's not about social interaction?
It's all about the phat lewtz!

Re:I play games for social interaction. (1)

shy (108614) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365668)

Heh, true and true.

On the other hand, do you have ANY IDEA hw much phat lewt I could get with 40 homies in real life? :)

Re:I play games for social interaction. (1)

steveo777 (183629) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365692)

How do you organize a 40 person raid on an imaginary dungeon?

They're called "Protests."

Just find a bunch of people who don't agree with a different bunch of people that have their own building. Sure, no swords, but that's all we're going to get in a day and age where we can't log out to avoid the consequences...

Re:I play games for social interaction. (1)

Stradenko (160417) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365784)

"Protests..." don't be a Negative Nelly.

Think Charity events (runs, walks, etc), religious functions, social clubs...
The words "guild" and "clan" were in use long before video games...and it's way better (yes, this is a moral/ethical judgement and is very subjective...sue me) to be for something than against.

Microsoft Wallet (2, Insightful)

Generic Guy (678542) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365573)

I've said before, I'm concerned about Microsoft's huge push into "online" with the new 360 console. Its way too soon, and they seem to be trying to tie everything about Xbox into the "Live" service. If it isn't already obvious, this is Microsoft's attempted way of extracting monthly revenue out of their customers. You can see it in the way they are now re-attempting to push web services like Office Live and .NET.

Microsoft wants that monthly charge, from everybody. But they are pushing way too hard with this generation of console, especially since they never garnered more than 10% or so of original Xbox players. We should rename Live to MS Wallet, or more specifically MS Hand In Your Wallet.

Re:Microsoft Wallet (1)

kjart (941720) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365699)

I've said before, I'm concerned about Microsoft's huge push into "online" with the new 360 console. Its way too soon, and they seem to be trying to tie everything about Xbox into the "Live" service. If it isn't already obvious, this is Microsoft's attempted way of extracting monthly revenue out of their customers. You can see it in the way they are now re-attempting to push web services like Office Live and .NET.

When was the last time that a PC game was released without any kind of online experience (and yes, they exist, but these games get critically slammed for not having such a component)? Microsoft (and other console makers) are trying to catch up with where the PC has been for years. Extracting money out of their customers? Charging "money" for a "service" is a new idea?

Re:Microsoft Wallet (1)

honeypotslash (927312) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365821)

Prince of Persia: not an online game, but still was succesful.
--
Free PlayStation 3 [freepay.com]

Lay off the MS bashing (1)

cerelib (903469) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365841)

Haven't people been yelling at Microsoft to become more service oriented? Maybe everybody will be happy when Microsoft decides to do and sell everything for free. Everyone except the stockholders. Will the Microsoft haters of /. please decide what they, reasonably, expect from Microsoft, because I am really getting tired of the automatic bashing.

Re:Microsoft Wallet (1)

Neopoleon (874543) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365848)

"If it isn't already obvious, this is Microsoft's attempted way of extracting monthly revenue out of their customers."

Oh. dear. I had no idea.

How awful.

I quit... Do you hear me, Gates? I QUIT!!!

Taking money from customers - what will we think of next?

"You can see it in the way they are now re-attempting to push web services like Office Live and .NET."

Uh... .NET isn't a web service. If you're going to slam our stuff, you could at least get your story straight.

"...they are pushing way too hard with this generation of console, especially since they never garnered more than 10% or so of original Xbox players."

First off, that "10% or so of original Xbox players" is impressive. It's easy to say that it was "only" a tenth of the potential, but how many people own original Xbox systems? 10% of *that* number isn't too shabby (you *did* read the article, right?).

Also, the live story with the 360 is totally different. While it builds on the existing system, the overall experience has changed greatly, and hopefully it won't take gamers much effort to realize it.

I work for the company, and I didn't care about Xbox Live for the first console. It didn't have a "feel" that attracted me. After getting my 360, though, that changed, and I've been spending every night getting my ass kicked in PGR3 by ten year olds from Alabama - and I'm quite enjoying it.

Seriously, yo - a lot of good people put a lot of work into the Xbox, the 360, and Xbox Live. There's nothing wrong with slamming a technology, or a company, or whatever, but you could at least do so from an informed point of view.

Re:Microsoft Wallet (1)

andylei (927425) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365854)

i don't see why this is unique to microsoft. it seems like any, and probably all, sane companies want to take your money. potato chips also happen to be Lay's way of extracting (monthly) revenue out of their customers. why doesn't anybody complain about them?

Social gaming... (4, Insightful)

chill (34294) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365583)

I've got three teenage kids who will sit for hours, if I let them, on XBox Live and chat with friends while playing Halo 2, America's Army and other "team" games.

When not on live, they also browse MySpace and usually are chatting with IM clients. Yes, they get outside plenty. When you live up north (northern hemisphere) and it gets dark less than an hour after school gets out, going outside to play isn't an attractive option.

Instead of having to have multiple phone lines, or even cell phones for the kids, they all chat with friends -- local and long distance -- via XBox Live & IM.

Microsoft is spot on and when looking at new consoles next year, the question will be does the PS3 and Revolution have a good online community and voice chat? If not, XBox 360 it will be.

  -Charles

Re:Social gaming... (0, Redundant)

wombatmobile (623057) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365617)

How much max would you be prepared to pay for that service per month for your household?

Re:Social gaming... (2, Interesting)

chill (34294) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365785)

How much max would you be prepared to pay for that service per month for your household?

$100 per month if it includes the broadband ISP charges. $200 if it also included telephone and cable TV w/DVR capabilities.

That's about what I'm paying now for cable TV, cable internet, 3 x X-Box Live accounts and VoIP thru Packet8.

I'm investigating running my own TeamSpeak server and possibly dropping the X-Box Live accounts. America's Army is better on PC (Linux!) than X-Box. Call of Duty 2 is excellent on PC (Windows), and I'm not willing to shell out for an X-Box 360 when I already have the game on a PC.

  -Charles

Some of us don't care for online gaming (1, Insightful)

SpecialAgentXXX (623692) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365598)

I never understood the popularity of online gaming. MMORPG, which cost $XX/game + $YY/month, isn't worth it to me. The only times I've played online was against my friend in an RTS. Halo was a lot of fun playing multiplayer, but we all played on the same console. It was a lot more fun sitting next to your friend as you blast him and talk smack instead of sitting alone in your room playing against strangers.

I guess that's just me. I like to escape from the Real World (TM) when I play a game and get immersed in it. I don't have much time to play games anyways, so my "skillz" aren't that great and I don't care to spend hours playing against high school kids to improve them.

Re:Some of us don't care for online gaming (1)

incompetent_bitch (519780) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365647)

Agreed - as I'm starting to get older, I have less and less time to play (27 and getting married in 6 months). So my ability to compete against 13-18 yeard olds who play incesantly just isn't there. I've always preferred to pick up a controler, play for a 20 minutes, and then be on with my day. I'm slowly but surely working my way through Resident Evil 4 (on the GC) like that right now.
Personally, online games just don't cut it for me. And I think that holds true for a large percentage of the "older" gaming community. We want to pick something up for 20 minutes, work through it, then be done with it.
And I get plenty of social interaction at both work and home so I don't feel like I need that social aspect of online gaming.

MMO's (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365690)

I play Everquest... at $100 a year (bulk subscription rate) it is cheaper than buying 3 new console games a year (they go for what, like, $50 a pop new?), not to mention the console. I work 40 hours a week and am trucking through grad school but I try and play a few hours a week, its a good way to get rid of stress, and a lot of fun. A lot of people whine about the monthly subscription rate but again, I'm pretty sure if you are buying relatively new console games, I am paying less for my gaming experiance than you are...

-everphilski-

Re:Some of us don't care for online gaming (1)

idsofmarch (646389) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365721)

I actually like playing with the kids, while they're idiots, mouthy, and rediculously good, I'm smart, patient, and more attentive to details. I play a couple of rounds for 20 minutes and then turn the box off and go bother my wife. Online gaming can be fun, but only if you accept its certain limitations.

Re:Some of us don't care for online gaming (1)

pappy97 (784268) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365697)

"It was a lot more fun sitting next to your friend as you blast him and talk smack instead of sitting alone in your room playing against strangers."

Yes, this is very true. I got into FPS's with Goldeneye for N64, playing with 3 other friends.

The problem is that you can't always find time to get everyone over to one physical location to play a game, even if all of your friends can play at the same time. Online gaming solves this problem as you get to play with your friends (and perhaps new friends), without leaving your house. The HUGE plus (and I guess you don't get this), is that by playing your friends online, in say Halo 2 (or any FPS), you get your own FULL screen, not split screen garbage. With games using snipers and improving graphics, it helps to have your own full screen to see things.

Plus you don't have to worry about that one friend who blatantly looks at other people's screens, and you also don't have to worry about that one friend who doesn't mean to look, but can't help it.

Analyst on drugs (2, Insightful)

demachina (71715) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365610)

"Says analyst Michael Pachter, 'At the end of the day, we don't play games for social interaction ... We play games to escape.' Microsoft's strategy is 'absolutely flawed,' he added.""

Wow, this "analyst" just shredded his credibility with that whopper. He is obviously extrapolating HIS gaming experience to EVERYONE. Blanket generalizations are almost always wrong. He should probably buy a copy of WOW, Battlefield etc, install a copy of vent and come to grips with the fact that millions of people are playing games precisely FOR THE SOCIAL INTERACTION.

Its a simple fact of life that AI's in games are still generally weak and playing against a computer quickly gets old. There is way more satisfaction of beating other human beings than in beating a mediocre AI.

The sweet deal about games like WOW are they are a constant revenue stream of people paying monthly subscriptions versus the boom or bust cycle of sell a box in the store, get a bunch of revenue and then go dry for years while you develop the next one. This is the dream revenue model for companies like Microsoft because it pleases Wall Street to have consistent revenue streams... if your game doesn't suck.

Re:Analyst on drugs (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14365740)

Blanket generalizations are almost always wrong.

No they're not.

Re:Analyst on drugs (1)

killmenow (184444) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365780)

I am posting because I don't have mod points right now. I don't usually even mod anonymous posts at all anyway...but, damn, that was funny.

Good show, you anonymous coward you.

I see what he is saying (2, Interesting)

tacokill (531275) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365614)

I think I see what he is saying by the last sentence in the summary. I, too, have noticed a focus on "social interaction" stuff lately. Chat, messages, etc. While these are valuable for strategerizing and chatting with friends in the game, I don't go online to dink around and "chat" with strangers. Not to say that I don't talk to strangers -- I do. But I don't look to make new friends or anything and it seems like a lot of these services are aimed at linking people in a social way. As in -- meeting new people and making new friends.

The difference is subtle but there. When I game, the chatting, etc is pertinent only for the game. If I want to meet new ppl or find a date, I go elsewhere. Taking my online gaming and trying to make it a "social interaction" *IS* the wrong approach.

And I think that is what he is talking about here.

I love it. Test your assumptions with games. (2, Interesting)

neo (4625) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365623)

This is the exact system that Microsoft wants to use for it's other applications. They want you to buy Word monthly, or yearly. They want you to pay for a service rather than "own" the program. Briliantly they are testing the idea in their lackluster gaming system before moving it over to their applications.

Next you're going to see an application "Office 360" that replaces your computer desktop and only allows you to do your desktop job... one ap at a time.

Brilliant.

An interesting question (4, Interesting)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365625)

This article really sheds light on a fundamental dichotomy : hardcore gamers versus the rest of the public. As I'm sure most slashdotters will post here in a second, online gaming CAN be and generally is far more engrossing and much, much harder than any single player game. Online is also much more technically complex which is the real reason why it's only recently come to consoles : you need a voice chat or keyboard, and to get the kind of smooth gameplay console players are used to you need broadband. So to hardcore gamers like us, there's not even a second's thought : the vast majority of the games in the xbox lineup will be more fun online, if the game is written well enough technically to support it. (for instance, games like Gears of War will probably be a lot of fun Co-op if that game supports it smoothly)

Further, WoW/other MMORPGs and the Battlefield series I think offer some of THE most intense gaming available in any form, anywhere. No console solo or online game or PC game can really touch the intensity and complexity of these games. (and the difficulty level, especially in Battlefield. Even n00bs shoot me down and gun me down every 5-10 kills I get, which is a far harder game that most solo ones)

But the regular public, the joes on the streets who buy game consoles by the millions and make up the "average", fat, T.V. watching, braindead gameplay game playing, Geography ignorant, stereotyping and racially biased, Americans? Who the hell knows what sort of trash they'll really buy. Unfortunatly for us, they make up the real market that Microsoft needs to make money from, and it seems that Microsoft, composed mostly of top C.S. graduates, thinks more like we do.

Re:An interesting question (1)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365656)

Oh yeah, Forgot to add : Britney Spears listening AND buying. I mean even I couldn't help but notice that the music executives had picked a pretty hot, underage at the time, blond girl from a hick town to be their poster star, and had underdressed her and put her in some pretty suggestive songs. But I'm not among those MILLIONS of fools who paid at least 15 bucks for a whole cd of this! Some did it more than one time.

Course, *cough*, I have blown a lot more than 15 bucks on graphics cards I didn't really need that were less than 1/3 the price once games came out that needed it...

Re:An interesting question (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365749)

Oh yeah, Forgot to add : Britney Spears listening AND buying. I mean even I couldn't help but notice that the music executives had picked a pretty hot, underage at the time, blond girl from a hick town to be their poster star, and had underdressed her and put her in some pretty suggestive songs. But I'm not among those MILLIONS of fools who paid at least 15 bucks for a whole cd of this! Some did it more than one time.

Err.. she's kinda homely. I mean her body is okay but her face is nothing to write home about. Kevin Federline is slumming, he could do better. she has bad skin, a really funny noise, eyes that seem a bit off and she's the living embodiment of slut.

Escaping? (1)

Rapter09 (866502) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365631)

At the end of the day, we don't play games for social interaction ... We play games to escape.' Microsoft's strategy is 'absolutely flawed,' he added."
That's such a broad overreaching statement, and Microsoft or not, calling their strategy absolutely flawed is absolutely flawed in itself. People play games to both escape and to be social. In a warped and disconnected sense people playing online games are more or less more social than others who don't (though, that could be refuted). Playing on a 32-player Counter-Strike server, or a 64-player Battlefield 2 server, there's all of that possibility for social interaction with other humans. The quality of which I'm sure could be disputed, but it's interaction simple enough. Just think of all the 60s sitting in Orgrimmar because there's not enough people for an UBRS run. Hah.

Michael Pachter is wrong (2, Interesting)

BadassJesus (939844) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365645)

"'At the end of the day, we don't play games for social interaction ..."

I personally play ONLY games against/with real people like Counter-Strike multiplayer,
single-player is not for me, playing against "bots" is a dead-end play, I never play single player games.
Online gamming is the next logical step. Microsoft is on the right track.

They make money on the need to compete (2, Insightful)

Wallstreetfighter.co (941366) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365663)

In the old days we would compete in sports, in activities outside involving endurance and training. Microsoft realizes just because people don't get out as much, they still have the desire to compete. They are providing an arena to bring people together to challenge each other and see who is better. Yes it is a social situation, but do you really ever know somebody named PIMPN8EZ? The more exciting you make it, the more games they sell. We are all addicted to anything that makes the heart go faster. How the games are distributed is not as important as that they continue to come out with as many titles as possible that are well made and exciting.

Social Interaction vs Gaming (2, Insightful)

kid-noodle (669957) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365674)

Few things here - first off, men generally don't game with the intent of social interaction - they do however tend to play online because human opponents offer a different challenge to bots and scripted encounters.

Second, the terrifying success of WoW, Everquest, CoH, etc. would suggest that games with some basis in social interaction are actually mind bogglingly popular.
Also, as a vapid generalisation, you tend to see women playing games with some degree of focus on social interaction. (I was going to use the Sims as an example here, but a moment's thought reminded me that the Sims is actually just an extension of the doll principle, having nothing whatsoever to do with social interaction.)

Re:Social Interaction vs Gaming (1)

pappy97 (784268) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365731)

"I was going to use the Sims as an example here, but a moment's thought reminded me that the Sims is actually just an extension of the doll principle, having nothing whatsoever to do with social interaction"

Exactly, and The Sims: Online was a horrid failure because of the "doll principle."

Not Necessarily (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365737)

Second, the terrifying success of WoW, Everquest, CoH, etc. would suggest that games with some basis in social interaction are actually mind bogglingly popular.

Not Necessarily. Especially when you take into consideration the PvP focus of WoW (and EQ, if you are playing on the PVP servers). Havent played CoH so I can't comment on it. I'm a highly antisocial gamer, I play all my MMO's prettymuch solo save for any real-life friends that I know are playing. MMO's are about dominance especially now with WoW and their PvP rank system. Get powerful, get your skill set, and dominate. Most of the "social interactions" I have result in someone respawning at their bind point...

-everphilski-

Isn't that the point of games? (1)

nremorse (916529) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365698)

The sole purpose of a game is competition... whether it's from the computer or other player. This article belongs to a crappy site like theregister.

The future of entertainment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14365706)

The sort of interaction that happens in MMORPGs is the future of entertainment IMHO. MS have plenty of cash and taking a punt on this sounds pretty smart

Multiplayer (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365718)

This forum has a fairly skewed opinion since we are all mostly tech geeks. We like to play multiplayer games. Unfortunately the "VAST" majority of gamers do not. only about 10% of Xbox owners ever redeem their free live subscription. The other 90% either can't or don't care for playing online. the pattern is similiar for the number of warcraft III players online ect... People just don't want to play other people that often.

Yes! (1)

acvh (120205) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365739)

"'At the end of the day, we don't play games for social interaction ... We play games to escape.'"

at last, a validation of my dislike for online gaming. i'm inherently antisocial, and absolutely game to escape.

Riiiight (1)

Sheik Yerbouti (96423) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365746)

From the article "At the end of the day, we don't play games for social interaction ... We play games to escape." Microsoft's strategy is "absolutely flawed," he said



Tell that to Parker Brothers or any kid whos ever played a sandlot pickup ball game.



Ok so I will give him the benefit of the doubt that he meant to say video games. It still does not hold water. Games are at their most fundamental level. A conflict between agents making decisions and taking actions to defeat one another. True many will choose an artificial agent to play against. But for many only when there are no other options available. One could argue and I will that games at their roots are social. They are a way to explore conflict in a safe way. Without the risks associated with real world conflict.

XBL (2, Funny)

hostingreviews (941757) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365748)

I feel that XBox Live is for very young children and just-made-it-to-teenager's. Every time they use the talk function they sound prepubescent or 5 years old. My roommate plays a lot of Halo 2 on Live, but he's nowhere near as good as those 5 year olds. I think it's awesome that preteens have a safe place to go to kill eachother for a modest monthly fee. WTG MS!

It's all about the Multiplayer (1)

Marc_Hawke (130338) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365759)

Michael Pachter is absolutely flawed. I don't even buy single player games anymore. I've done nothing but multiplayer gaming since 1997. (QW: Team Fortress)

Sure console players are a little behind the curve, but they always are. Now that Xbox live has given them a taste of the good life, single-player console games will start to rapidly lose their draw.

Online play is doomed, dooooomed, I say (1)

ChaosDiscord (4913) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365789)

'At the end of the day, we don't play games for social interaction ... We play games to escape.' Microsoft's strategy is 'absolutely flawed,' he added.""

Yeah, if you focus on online play you'll only end up with an itty-bitty niche market. An online game might have to struggle with a measely 5 million players [blizzard.com] . Truly online gaming is doomed.

One can make many reasonable arguments against Microsofts investment. I do agree that single player games will continue to be a major force. But online play can create new an interesting ideas. While I don't like playing online with random people because there are too many asshats, I'm looking forward to more cooperative games.

Yeah. Sure. (1)

Brothernone (928252) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365802)

Online gamming is almost infinately more fun and intense than fighting against those ever tiresome bots. There is never such a great satisfaction as capping the shit out ten guys with a shotgun. Counter-strike, Day of Defeat, Battlefield, WoW.. They all have interaction. You cannot go online with theese games and not have at least some basic form of interaction. Granted it may not be a large driving force on WHY we play, but it is certainly an important part. Everyone knows that without team communication your squad is gunna die. Sometimes i'll talk to folks i've been playing with for years, or clan/guild mates.. but Social interaction is not WHY I play. It does seem to be a growing trend for kids/teens to use IM/VoiceChat to hang out and shoot the shit, bur for most of us it's the thrill of strugle between players.

Missing the point... (1)

BishopSRQ (935893) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365814)

>>> We play games to escape.' Microsoft's strategy is 'absolutely flawed,' he added.""
This is absolutely, positively, 100% off the mark. Seems insightful, but ultimately isn't.

Microsoft can drop hundreds of millions of dollars into the live component, and they don't care for the XBox 360 if there is a return on investment. For Microsoft, the return on investment comes about when there is no PS4. They are buying future market share, plain and simple.

Social Interaction does not equal ONLINE (1)

killmenow (184444) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365815)

How hugely successful was Animal Crossing? How about the Tekken and Soul Caliber fighters? What about the craploads of racing, sports, etc., multi-player games that are not online games?

Gaming is very much social. I, for one, can barely stand playing single player games. And I don't play online at all unless it's free. I WILL NOT pay $$/month just to play video games. There are lots of multi-player experiences to be had without subscriptions to online games.

And a lot of people play them.

Online gaming? (1)

Enlarged to Show Tex (911413) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365845)

Why is it that when I read this article, I think of Microsoft trying to go up against the freak parade that is GoldenPalace.com, or any of the multitude of sports books or online poker sites scattered all over the internet?

Clueless (1)

DaveCBio (659840) | more than 8 years ago | (#14365846)

Why do mainstream publications keep going to Michael Pachter for information. I don't think the guy has ever been right in his industry predictions. He is one of the many completely clueless analysts that just don't understand the industry and the people that make and play games.
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