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Sony Takes Aim at Xbox Live

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the finally-a-real-fight dept.

PlayStation (Games) 287

Joystiq and the site ComputerandVideoGames are reporting on the first real action in the next-gen war. Sony is apparently readying a strong online service that will meet or exceed the features of Xbox Live. With no firm PS3 launch date yet released, the 360 still has the advantage, but if Sony is rolling out an online matching and media service with their (reportedly) more powerful console things could look bad for Microsoft's new system. From the article: "This story, together with the recent survey Sony conducted, should remove any doubts about Sony's online ambitions. Is it possible that Sony could create a network the size and scale of Xbox Live in such a short time. It has cost Microsoft, the world's largest software company, billions and taken years just to lay the framework for the current Live service. Sony is know for their hyperbolic marketing: the PS2's Emotion Engine, the PSP as iPod-killer; it seems unlikely they could take the crown from Microsoft on their first try, but any attempt is a huge relief. It was beginning to look like Sony didn't think the Live service was a valuable addition to console gaming, or a serious competitor to their hegemony. "

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Coming soon! (5, Funny)

ShaneThePain (929627) | more than 8 years ago | (#14610668)

Playstation 3 with rootkit pre-installed!

Re:Coming soon! (1)

undeadly (941339) | more than 8 years ago | (#14610925)

Playstation 3 with rootkit pre-installed!

Indeed funny, but the Sony handling of this has made me to avoid buying their products. Unless Sony offer something much better I buy from the competition. Believe me, if consumers buy 10% less from Sony than usual Sony will pay real close attention.

Re:Coming soon! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14611081)

Do you think the average person, when presented with something like a PSP that they want (forgetting the system-blah is better arguement, our pretend consumer has made up his mind and wants a PSP) is going to go "Oh, wait, these guys did that rootkit thing that I read about in the paper - I'm not buying this!"

Sure Sony looked bad in the media for a couple of days. It was a lot longer for us geeks who read slashdot etc, but the attention the mainstream media gave it was much, much less.

Noble thinking, but anyone who sees a PS3 in action and thinks "That's cool, I'd like one" isn't about to change their mind because of this small bit of bad Sony publicity.

Also, while Sony is one giant name, the company is made up of very many smaller parts. Do you think the team who make and design the PS3 are all really proud of their other deptmartments stupidity? A lame arguement you might say, but you might as well stop eating half the food you eat because the parent company that makes it is owned by Exxon (not a real example, but I'm sure you see my point)

The rootkit thing was a total clusterf*ck, but I'll be buying other Sony products based on their merit and technology, not "refusing all" because some tiny subsection of Sony made a rather silly booboo.

Re:Coming soon! (1)

netkid91 (915818) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611236)

Ditto, it was the Sony BMG division that went through the whole rootkit fiasco, Sony Online Entertainment(operators of EverQuest :)) or any other divisions of Sony including the one who makes the PS2/PSP/etc.(Sony Electronics or something) had NOTHING to do with the rootkit, so don't blame all of Sony, this whole incident points out why subsidizing large companies under one big name is a bad idea, at least the papers could point out that it was only a certain division but nooooo. Anyways, mod parent up, he is 100% correct.

Re:Coming soon! (1)

undeadly (941339) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611267)

Did you miss that part in mail that I said I'll avoid buying Sony products? That Sony products have to be substansially better? It's not me boycotting Sony, but my buying fewer of their products.

No... (5, Funny)

ickeicke (927264) | more than 8 years ago | (#14610957)

The great thing about this new network from Sony, is that it can install rootkits for you. And not even on-demand, but non-demand! Isn't that great?

Except in Soviet Russia of course, there the rootkits install Sony's new network...

Right (5, Insightful)

buffer-overflowed (588867) | more than 8 years ago | (#14610685)

I'll believe it when I see it. Feature for feature and then some. Right. I have a bridge in NY and some beach front property in Arizona to sell you.

And the Emotion Engine is powering my workstation, Cell will dominate all electronics on the planet, the PSP will kick Nintendo out of the handheld market and beat the iPod in one fell swoop. Yada yada yada. Oh and something about incredible real-time CGI. When it all falls flat on it's face it's going to be whoever bought it's fault for not understanding the awe-inspiring vision that is exuded by the Sony corporation.

Put on your waders boys and girls, stand very still and brace yourself, the Sony people are talking and you wouldn't want to be killed by the bullshit.

Re:Right (2, Insightful)

AdmiralWeirdbeard (832807) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611109)

well, you clearly have no prejudices.
maybe you should, in fact, wait till you see it.

Re:Right (3, Insightful)

buffer-overflowed (588867) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611231)

Only a fool or an idiot believes what Sony says during their pre-launch period.

There's no need for prejudice.

Re:Right (3, Insightful)

AJH16 (940784) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611283)

A little tip for the masses. When a company says they are going to release the most revolutionary product known to man. That it will completely blow away the competition and that it will be superior to any other products, even if they cost 6 times as much, then they say it will have a price tag under $500 and fail to mention that most of the technology that they need doesn't even exist yet, chances are good they have something in common with the apes at the zoo. They like to fling their own crap.

Third post (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14610697)

"Hemos" "Zonk" "Taco" "Samzenpus"..

What the Hell does this mean ? Are these retards so ashamed of their families that they hide under such stupid nicks ?

Re:Third post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14610727)

Are these retards so ashamed of their families that they hide under such stupid nicks ?

What are you trying to say, Mr. Anonymous Coward? Are you ashamed of your family?

You don't have much room to speak.

Free? (4, Interesting)

Eightyford (893696) | more than 8 years ago | (#14610713)

Will the online service be free?

Re:Free? (2, Funny)

mordors9 (665662) | more than 8 years ago | (#14610747)

Heh, yeah, that's the ticket... free. Is that as in beer or GPL...

hegemony? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14610716)

Heh. Poor choice of word for a discussion on GAME CONSOLES. Only on Slashdot...

neeeeerrddddddd neerrdddddnnnnnerrdddnnnnnnn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14611048)

neeeeerrddddddd neerrdddddnn nnn errdddnnnnnnn
neerrrrdd nerrrddd nerd

I don't have a lot going for me so I get VERY-VERY upset whenever my favorite game company does something wrong!

9/11? Who Cares?! Pokemon Green not released in the US?! Apocalypse now!

My whole value system is fucked up! I'm a typical slashdot poster!!!!!

World's largest software company? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14610721)

I thought that IBM was the world's largest software company?

Support America (1)

Reikk (534266) | more than 8 years ago | (#14610723)

Buy American! By purchasing the Xbox 360 you'll be helping to strengthen the dollar, and support freedom, democracy, and the American Way.

Re:Support America (1)

McGiraf (196030) | more than 8 years ago | (#14610769)

where is the xbox manufactured?

ah nevermind ...

Re:Support America (1)

ShaneThePain (929627) | more than 8 years ago | (#14610802)

mine says Mexico. not that I really mind, This *is* a country of immigrants.

Re:Support America (1)

McGiraf (196030) | more than 8 years ago | (#14610883)

probably just assembled in Mexico, the parts must come from China Taiwan etc ....

Re:Support America (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#14610895)

This *is* a country of immigrants.

Yeah, we "immigrated" the country right over most of Mexico.

KFG

Not most of mexico, only the good parts (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611108)

Tough shit for them.

We took the land that they had already taken.

If Mexico had retained it LA would look like TJ.

Re:Not most of mexico, only the good parts (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611175)

Tough shit for them.

We took the land that they had already taken.


Just hang on to that thought when the Chinese arrive.

If Mexico had retained it LA would look like TJ.

TJ only looks like TJ because LA looks like LA.

KFG

Response to Microsoft - or Nintendo? (3, Insightful)

Dark Paladin (116525) | more than 8 years ago | (#14610728)

Sony might having to perform a "me, too" not so much because of MS - but the combination of MS and Nintendo both having online services, plus both having a "purchase games via this interface" system (the Revolution possibly having a monthly subscription for playing the NES/SNES/N64 games).

Sony might have decided that if even Nintendo was doing an online route, they didn't want to be the last ones to the party. My guess is that they'll tell developers "You can still have the setup you want" (so if someone like EA wants to run thier own lobby/interface with ad revenue, they can), "... or you can use ours" (so publishers won't have to put all of thier resources into hosting servers - let Sony do it).

If so, I think it would be a good thing for Sony, if for no other reason than not look like the odd duck out.

Sorry for replying to myself (4, Insightful)

Dark Paladin (116525) | more than 8 years ago | (#14610919)

But I missed the most obvious thing.

Duh me.

When I finished reading how downloading games aren't just for pirates [1up.com] , and the use of Steam and MS Live for purchasing games, it became a "duh" moment as to why Sony wants their own online service:

Selling games. You can buy games off of Steam and Xbox Live for around $10 to $20 apiece, which brings us to a kind of "long tail" theory: not everybody wants to buy a game for $50, but there are probably plenty who will buy one for $15 or $10 if it's fun.

Sony can use that, and if they're making a good chunk of 25% off of each game sold, that's more revenue. Nintendo already stated they wanted to have independants on their online network, Microsoft has that now (see the success of "Geometry Wars" - and Sony sees those dollars.

I should have realized that first. I wasn't thinking greedy enough. I'm sorry.

Re:Sorry for replying to myself (1)

jacksonj04 (800021) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611177)

Example from experience here - Darwinia. I would never have bought it boxed-copy unless I saw it in a bargain bin whilst wandering, because of the time and effort taken to find and buy it on top of the cost. Steam made it available far faster, for less money. I bought it, and it gave me many hours of entertaining gameplay.

Interesting Juxtaposition (5, Interesting)

Chabil Ha' (875116) | more than 8 years ago | (#14610731)

It's interesting the juxtaposition of roles here. Sony was the incumbent of the console wars, leaving M$ in the position of proving itself. I think it is pretty safe to say that M$ has given Sony a run for its money, and now M$ is the incumbent to a firmly entrenched online gaming network.

To put succinctly, Sony has one shot to get it right--not to dethrone M$, but prove that its online gaming shows the potential to rival or better M$'s system.

Re:Interesting Juxtaposition (0)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14610819)

and now M$ is the incumbent to a firmly entrenched online gaming network.

Not really - they're both way behind the total number of gamers who use PCs instead of consoles to game, and that's not going to change, even if they come out with a game where you control "real sharks with friggin' lasers strapped to their heads".

Re:Interesting Juxtaposition (4, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#14610854)

It's interesting the juxtaposition of roles here. Sony was the incumbent of the console wars, leaving M$ in the position of proving itself. I think it is pretty safe to say that M$ has given Sony a run for its money, and now M$ is the incumbent to a firmly entrenched online gaming network.

We've been here before. Back in 1995, Sega announced their early release of the Saturn to get the drop on Sony. They were quite proud of themselves and thought that their $399 price tag (equivalent to Sony's expected price) combined with the early release would put them in the lead. Then the spokesperson got up to the microphone at the E3 and said three words that killed the Saturn on arrival.

"two ninety-nine"

The Playstation undercut the Saturn by a full hundred dollars, maintaining its expected lead in the market. It was released several months later to much fanfare, while no one purchased a Saturn.

Will Sony pull a rabbit out of it's hat again? Maybe. All I know is that there's a lot of noise about the 360, yet not all that many people seem to have one.

Re:Interesting Juxtaposition (1)

Jarlsberg (643324) | more than 8 years ago | (#14610935)

Yes, well, but this time Sony's not saying 299. All they're saying is that it's not going to be cheap. And there's no word on when it'll be released. So, there goes the Saturn analogy.

MS has shipped one and a half million xboxes already (in the period Nov 22 - Dec 31), so there are a lot of boxes out there already. Could be more, of course.

Re:Interesting Juxtaposition (1)

Fr05t (69968) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611219)

Umm.. I know 1.5 million might sound like a big number to you, but in relation to world wide sales - it's not. Especially so for a 'launch'.

Re:Interesting Juxtaposition (3, Insightful)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611188)

and now M$ is the incumbent to a firmly entrenched online gaming network

It's just that firmly entrenched means something totally different to Microsoft than Sony. The number of Live subscribers almost reached 0.4% of the number of PS2 owners in the last generation. No wonder Sony didn't try too hard to go after those customers...

Dispite all the hype, online gaming just isn't that big yet compared to the overall gaming market.

Chances are, even without an online service, if the PS3 doesn't win big this generation it won't be because of Microsoft. It'll be because of the PSP. The system that wins is the one with the big name games, and no developer is going to bet against Sony right now.

I wouldn't want to play third fiddle. (3, Interesting)

Inoshiro (71693) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611297)

MS's system is sure gabbed about like it's a success, when it's not.

Xbox Live! has, roughly, 1 million subscribers. There's been a pretty steady state number of subscribers since people would run out of interesting games on Live!, leaving a drought before the next set of interesting titles. Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and Capture the Flag became boring after a while.

Compare this with Nintendo's DS service. They've already peaked over 1 million people in the space of a few months, beating out Microsoft's Xbox Live! service. Surprise, surprise, Microsoft has admitted that it's not working by offering the basic service for free (after all, if you want to pay for basic access, you're going to limit your customer base).

Nintendo was right to wait and figure out the logistics. Sony was stupid to wait too long, and set some bad precedents on their front. Nintendo has managed to turn a lot of people's biggest complaint into their biggest strength with the DS online service, and it's soon going to be linked to the Revolution service. That's a pretty good lead.

HOW is this news? (3, Funny)

wfberg (24378) | more than 8 years ago | (#14610733)

A game console that's coming out in 2006 will have "on-line" capabilities? Really?! I'm shocked! They'll try to be better than their main competitor? You don't say!

That's like saying Ford will be coming out with a car that has airbags! Or the pepsi company launching a new "soft" "drink" that is carbonated! And they're saying it will taste better than coke or fanta.. I'm so excited!

Re:HOW is this news? (2, Informative)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 8 years ago | (#14610933)

The news is that so far Sony did not have a unified online service in the manner of Xbox Live. Individual games were expected to provide their own services.

Re:HOW is this news? (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611132)

The news is that so far Sony did not have a unified online service in the manner of Xbox Live.

The real news here is that the gaming journalists and analysts that have been speculating as to Sony's motives and plans have all been called out. Yet people will continue to believe the crap that these 'expert analysts' and paid industry shills that call themselves gaming journalists pump out.

The only people who believed that crap in the first place are the same people who believe the PS3 is going to cost $500 because of Blu Ray.

Re:HOW is this news? (1)

buffer-overflowed (588867) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611327)

I'll believe it when I see it.

Until then I'm working under the impression that the PS3 will be as disappointing as the PS2, it's one positive quality being sheer market inertia.

Re:HOW is this news? (5, Insightful)

jchenx (267053) | more than 8 years ago | (#14610944)

It actually is big news because for the longest time, Sony left it to all the game developers to develop all of the online features. The argument was that game developers WANTED to have finer control on all the implementation details. That was fine for large companies, like EA and Square-Enix, but obviously not so easy for smaller companies. (They want to make games, not re-invent the wheel with yet-another-implementation of authentication, leaderboards, in-game messaging, etc.) It also sucked for users, who now had to remember multiple usernames/passwords for multiple games, versus the nice single-login system with Live (and presumably Nintendo's system).

I'm guessing the fact that Nintendo revealed they were working on something similar (and you can already see some of the progress with wireless DS functionality in Mario Kart DS), really pushed Sony to do a complete 180 and claim they're going to have Live features, "AND MORE!!!!".

Personally, I'm doubtful they can really pull it off that quickly, if they truly intend on releasing this year. I'm guessing they'll just have some basic functionality, maybe an interesting feature or two that no one has yet (which I'm sure will be hyped plenty), but then miss a lot of the other stuff that Live does have. That will be "version 2", due out in 2007. Even if Sony is able to pull off the implementation (and yes, they DO have some online experience, thanks to Everquest and Star Wars: Galaxies), it's still a lot to expect from 3rd party companies to suddenly comply with whatever online API that they hack together in the next few months.

That said, it would be nice to have some online feature parity across all the consoles. It just drives more competition and (hopefully) good innovation.

Re:HOW is this news? (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611062)

As a gamer- I do NOT want a Live like service. I do not want to, and in fact REFUSE to pay monthly to play online games, unless the game is an MMO. I don't want online messaging- if I want someone to be able to message me, I'll give them my email address. I don't want leaderboards- epeen waving doesn't interest me. I don't want to get accused of cheating on game A and suddenly finding I can't log in to any of my games (especially if I wasn't cheating- I was just good). I sure as hell don't want voicecomm- voicecomm within a guild can be bad enough if the guild isn't disciplined, I can't even imagine how bad it is with random morons.

I just want to be able to play people on games I already purchased for free. To be honest, even the matchmaking is of limited interest- I have more fun playing friends than I do random preteens who's parents need to smack them for the language they use. Thats it- just let me log into a server and play.

Re:HOW is this news? (1)

jchenx (267053) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611204)

I believe all of the added online features (leaderboards, voice chat, messaging) are optional or can be configured via preference settings. At worst, if you don't want them, just don't log in. However, a large number of people DO like some or all of the features that are being presented. Innovation comes when developers try out new functionality. Some of it becomes popular, some of it doesn't, and some are good but have issues (like voice chat with stupid people).

Free multiplayer is possible, obviously, since it's been done on the PC and on some consoles (like the PS2). Ultimately, though, there IS a cost associated with it ... be it an online subscription, or things like "ad sponsorships" or fewer features, less security, etc.

Maybe the way to go is opposite what MS has done. Basic multiplayer gaming is free, but that's all you get. With an added subscription, NOW you get all the extra features like matchmaking, voice chat, leaderboards, achievements, no ads, better security (less hacks), etc. If you don't want it, then at least you've got the basic multiplayer system.

I have a feeling, though, that if such a system were implemented, you'd have the same number of people complaining that it should be the OTHER way around, or BOTH should be free. :)

Re:HOW is this news? (1)

Saige (53303) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611205)

Live costs all of $50 a year. That's the price of a single game, and averages out to just over $4 a month. That's pocket change for most people. If you can afford a game console and multiple games, you can afford Live without problem. The money complaint is very minor.

As for the rest of your items?

- Online messaging doesn't have to be allowed. You can set your privacy options so nobody will see you online or can contact you.

- Leaderboards can be ignored.

- A few people submitting "cheating" feedback because of a good score isn't going to get you banned, and even if you did get banned from Live, you'd still be able to play all of your games.

- Voice chat can be disabled.

- Playing with friends online? Check. The integrated friends list means not only can you play one game with friends, but you can easily find each other no matter what game you're playing. You can even voice chat with a friend while playing totally different games, or the same game but each in single player mode.

- Free? Well, you can't expect to get all the features for free. Even the online PC experience isn't as simple and straightfoward. And you should realize that the voice chat means you effectively have unlimited long distance to any friend on XBL for just over $4 a month.

You're still free to not use it and not be interested, but I didn't see any of your reasons that were very convincing as to why not to use it. Heck, I wasn't that excited about it before I got on with a two-month free trial. I never expected to pay to keep it. But then I used it.

Re:HOW is this news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14610967)

I know you wanted to be cool and dis the Slashdot story, but it is news. Sony has until now not really wanted to put forth their own gaming network, preferring to let third parties create them as happened with PC gaming. However, it didn't happen with the PS2. Folks have been speculating that Sony would do the smart thing and create their own network, but until now that didn't seem to be a priority.

Honestly, if you're going to try to be a sarcastic Slashtroll, why don't you at least say something accurate, like the fellow above who pointed out that it's all marketing hyperbole. That guy is on the money on this one so far, at least.

Re:HOW is this news? (1)

hektik17 (892370) | more than 8 years ago | (#14610994)

Pff, these have nothing compared to the capabilities the Phantom console will have! Personally I'm holding out for one of those babies. Plus I can play Duke Nukem Forever on it!

Re:HOW is this news? (1)

MutantHamster (816782) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611023)

No. It's not. You suck at analogies.

That sound you hear.. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14610766)

..is J Allard shitting his pants.

With the Xbox 360 rapidly emerging as this generation's "also-ran" console, one wonders how much more failure Microsoft corporate will take before it just bridges the Xbox platform over to Windows and pulls the plug on the console division.

PS 2 : Xbox :: Xbox 360 : PS3 (1)

Asmor (775910) | more than 8 years ago | (#14610772)

A more powerful competitor coming out a year later that is going to utterly quash its established competition? Man, that sounds so familiar...

Yeah Right (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14610779)

"It has cost Microsoft, the world's largest software company, billions and taken years just to lay the framework for the current Live service."

Microsoft didn't build the Internet. And the Internet wasn't built for Xbox Live. This statement is horse shit.

Re:Yeah Right (1, Insightful)

jerw134 (409531) | more than 8 years ago | (#14610842)

The Internet isn't the only thing required for Live. There are the servers at Microsoft that run everything, as well as the code on the console and in the games that handles things on the client side. So it appears that your statement is actually horse shit.

Re:Yeah Right (1)

JaseOne (579683) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611322)

But did it really cost billions? That seems like an awful lot for the kind of infrastructrue we are talking about here.

Re:Yeah Right (1)

djrosen (265939) | more than 8 years ago | (#14610905)

Who said anything about the internet? How about the XBox Live infrastructure that has been in Beta for about 5 years now and is still not working optimally? You think Sony can just flick a switch on a cluster of servers and have a better service? Talk about horsesh*t.

Re:Yeah Right (2, Insightful)

bushidocoder (550265) | more than 8 years ago | (#14610975)

Exactly, especially given that this is the same Sony that still has stability problems maintaining EQ/EQ2/SWG and Planetside 6 years after they entered the MMO space.

Re:Yeah Right (1)

Clirion (720337) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611036)

Sony has been doing a "cluster" online offering for a little over 5 years already. This whole concept is not new to them. They have also had some networking code and client processing already. Again this is not new to them either.

PS2 games are internet playable, just not in the Live enviroment like XBox Live is. It is left to each manafacture to implement the code into the game.

All of these pieces are in play.

Do I know if it will blow XBox Live out of the water? Nope, but I sure won't discount the ability of SOE To give them a run for the money, if not beat them.

Re:Yeah Right (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611227)

This is going to get modded as Flamebait by some Microsoft fanboys even though it's not intended as such, but I'll say it anyway:

You don't think Sony learned anything from running Everquest?

Microsoft had a big hurdle too. They had to get their system working on Windows. Look how long it took them to get Hotmail working correctly on Windows compared to how easy it was for everybody else to get massive webmail systems online, and you'll have a good idea of how much harder Microsoft makes things for themselves.

Real action in the next-gen war (3, Funny)

msbsod (574856) | more than 8 years ago | (#14610795)

If you like real action with the IBM Cell processor in the next-gen war, why not try this baby:
http://www.mc.com/powerblock200/ [mc.com]
It knocks the stuffing out of any Sony PS3.

Re:Real action in the next-gen war (1)

SpinJaunt (847897) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611201)

NetBSD on a PowerBlock(TM) 200 Toaster?

Yeah, my thoughts exactly..

SOE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14610817)

Remember Sony already HAS a sizeable online network with Sony Online Entertainment already handeling a million+ users on the PC side. Utilize the same infrastructure and they could already be on good ground to get started.

Jaded about online console games... (5, Insightful)

Yo Grark (465041) | more than 8 years ago | (#14610820)

Ok maybe I'm just jaded about having to pay for a console then pay MS for essentially just a NETWORK CONNECTION to other players, but why NOT make it free? (as in air) I know it would make my decision simple when it came to xbox 360 or PS3.

Actually when I heard you had to PAY to change the skins, I backed off completely. Where are the days when you paid for a product and just enjoyed it without a constantly being nibbled to death by Credit Card Ducks?

No sir, I will still to my "alternatives", as offline as they may appear to MS, Sony or Nintendo until one day one of these companies gets a clue stick and sets up their system to be more P2P in nature then B2B.

GIMME MY FREE MULTIPLAYER ONLINE! (not like the game, the console the internet connection cost me anything eh? :| )

Yo Grark

Re:Jaded about online console games... (1)

generic-man (33649) | more than 8 years ago | (#14610956)

Microsoft is running a buttload of servers to keep everything running, paying a ton of people to handle abuse reports and maintain said servers, and losing money on the hardware as it is. I think $50 a year, or about $4 a month, is reasonable compensation for what is on the whole a very reliable and scalable gaming service where cheating is absolutely forbidden. If you disagree you are free to not use it. Blizzard, EA, etc., run their own servers for free, but they're not selling $400 game consoles at a loss. Furthermore, if you don't feel that a UI skin is worth the 80 cents or so Microsoft sells it for, you are free to not buy it. So far none of the content I've seen on Live marketplace actually has an effect on the gameplay.

Re:Jaded about online console games... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14610970)

You don't have to [teamxlink.co.uk] pay Microsoft to get a network connection to your friends. But if you do want to have access to their services, then you might have to pony up about 6 bucks a month. You do know that it costs money for the bandwidth and running all those servers, right?

Re:Jaded about online console games... (1)

RexRhino (769423) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611004)

Pay is nice, and here is why:

Every user account is tied to a credit card and a real identity. If you ban a player from your game you are hosting (or you file a complaint on a player), they can't create another ID or just switch their IP address. Sure, if you ban them from the game you are hosting, they can always pay another $50 dollars for a years membership, but most likely they aren't going to do that (especially when you can just ban THAT ID if they give you trouble... annoying people are going to go through a lot of money pretty quickly).

And, it is like anything, the fact that you pay something weeds out a lot of total losers. It doesn't get rid of all the users by any means, but that barrier to entry is enough to stop the majority of people who would just log on to be annoying.

Re:Jaded about online console games... (5, Informative)

jchenx (267053) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611089)

FYI, the Silver account mode for Live has everything EXCEPT for actual multiplayer. Silver accounts are free. It's the Gold accounts that cost money. You're paying for the network connection (bandwidth), the servers that host the matchmaking, as well as any updates to the service in the future. And I'm sure some of the money goes back into R&D for future versions, or subsidizes the Silver accounts, or even (*gasp*) profit. I have no idea the pricing scheme for Nintendo or Sony, but I'm guessing they're going to have a similar scheme (or see reduced functionality).

Your complaint sounds a lot like those who hate the idea of paying monthly for MMOs. Sorry, that's just the cost of doing business. If there weren't people willing to pay for it, then yes, you'd have a lot more things that were just "free" ... although the companies might be paid in other ways: more in-game advertising, higher per-box costs, higher console costs, forced to pay "micro-payments" for new weapons/armor, etc. Or just stuck with fewer features or even NO on-line functionality. (Arguably that's why Sony went with their original model in the first place. Many games don't appear to benefit much at all from online features, like single-player RPGs, so why have one in the first place?)

One final thing ... you mention that you'd prefer more P2P-style implementation, which I gather you mean peer-to-peer. That's actually one thing I'd pay NOT to see. You just can't trust the client anymore. Arguably, P2P-multiplayer is what's killing many PC games. There's just way too many cheated clients out there, making play experience miserable. Are closed systems perfect? No, but it's certainly a lot harder to crack and the companies have a genuine interest in closing the holes as fast as possible, lest they lose their precious subscription business. Otherwise, bad developers could just say, "Oh well, we shipped the game. It's done. Sorry users, the griefers have ruined the game and we can't do anything about it now." Things like Punkbuster are great and all, but I'd rather just trust the server to do all the calculations, have the client "be dumb", and pay for it.

Re:Jaded about online console games... (2, Informative)

ALTheFierce (951055) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611239)

If you want free multiplayer online gaming, then buy a Nintendo Revolution (when it comes out). Nintendo has stated repeatedly that they think it is stupid for a person to have to buy a console, buy a game, and then have to pay a monthly fee to play the game. All online capabilities any Revolution game has through the Nintendo WiFi Connection will be free, just like the current online games are for the Nintendo DS. Nintendo is even providing free WiFi hotspots all over Japan and in select McDonald's stores in the US for people to play their games. So, if you're looking for a company to get a clue, look no further. Nintendo already has.

Infrastructure (2, Insightful)

umbrellasd (876984) | more than 8 years ago | (#14610831)

Well, Sony has been in the EQ game for a while. Sony Online Entertainment. So I have no idea why people would think that Sony has to pull an infrastructure do Live-like functionality out of a hat.

mmhmm (5, Funny)

UU7 (103653) | more than 8 years ago | (#14610871)

In other news, DNF will be a PS3 launch title.

Re:mmhmm (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611055)

In other news, DNF will be a PS3 launch title.

You need to check your sources. I happen to have it on good authority that Duke Nukem Forever will be a Infinium Labs: Phantom exclusive!

Value of online play (2, Insightful)

Jordan Catalano (915885) | more than 8 years ago | (#14610874)

Frankly, I don't see online play as a major selling point. Sure, there are always hardcore gamers who will pay monthly fees year after year for the chance to play against gamers they've never met, but how does this add any value to the average gamer's purchase?

Your average Playstation gamer has GTA, a couple sports/wrestling games, and plays with a few buddies huddled around the TV. They have no interest in challenging anonymous strangers, nor to continue paying usage fees for a console they've already shelled out a mint for.

Re:Value of online play (1)

Saige (53303) | more than 8 years ago | (#14610971)

Out of the 1.5 million+ Xbox 360's that have been sold worldwide so far, about 50% have connected to Xbox Live. Compared to the rate of use on the original Xbox, this is HUGE. Of course, the fact that XBL now can be used for free (without multiplayer play) has helped this a lot, I'm sure, but that means that half of the 360's out there will be uploading scores and times to leaderboards, browsing the Xbox Live Marketplace for cheap little fun games, download trailers and demos, getting patches, and keeping track of their friends' achievements and scores.

Sure, it's not a primary selling point to most people. But once they start making use of it, things change. And with the way it connects to PCs using Windows Media Connect or Media Center, so people can stream music and movies, such people might as well just connect up to XBL anyways.

I think this generation is going to really bring the online service into the foreground when it comes to consoles.

Re:Value of online play (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611103)

There's 2 facts in play here:

1)Only the hardcore gamers have 360s due to the shortage. I'm surprised the percentage isn't even higher, given the fact.

2)Logging into Live doesn't allow people to play games on it. How many of those people actually bought anything or subscribed, vs how many people saw the menu option and clicked it to see what it did? I'd expect that the vast majority are in camp 2 here.

So far, I don't see anything that makes me think 360 live will have higher penetration than xbox 1 did. And xbox 1 showed that network play was a small niche.

Re:Value of online play (1)

Saige (53303) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611333)

Well, you don't take the time to connect your 360 to your network connection, then only use it once. Besides, when you create your system profile, you can create it as an Xbox Live account. Then it automatically logs in on each start, and gets leaderboard data and friends info and all that. You don't have to actively do anything - it's just there.

Thus it's very unlikely that someone hooked stuff up then "used it once".

Re:Value of online play (1)

sdhankin (213671) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611221)

So what you're saying is that even when it's free, Microsoft can't convince more than 50% of Xbox 360 owners to use Live?

Less than 10% of Xbox users ponied up the cash to pay for Live. (I'm one of them, but that changes nothing.) I'd hazard a guess that the percentage hasn't changed substantially for Xbox 360 owners who paid for Gold.

Once people start making use of a free service, things don't change - MS still has to make a case for them to turn around and pay for it. While I agree that Media Center folks are considerably more likely to pay for Live than others, I don't think they represent a very significant portion of the market.

That said, I really hope I'm wrong. I love online play, and would love to see a world where console ownership == playing online. Maybe MS can do it this time; maybe the fact that MS and Sony and Nintendo are all doing it will make it more mainstream, and it'll catch fire this time. Maybe arguing that Sony won't be able to pull this off is really arguing against our own best interests.

After all, don't we want to see online play become common?

Re:Value of online play (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14611024)

Obviously you've never played Project Gotham Racing 3 on the XBOX 360 on XBOX LIVE then...

Take 15 minutes to do that then come back and edit your comment...

Re:Value of online play (1)

Grendel32 (818105) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611242)

The value you get with x-box live is not only multiplayer but also additional free content. An example would be the new levels that were released for splinter cell and the new maps, weapons and vehicles released for battle field 2. Having to pay for the service will allow MS to continue to provide stable service and products. Also it provides quality for gamers in the fact that it being a closed system it greatly cuts down on cheating, or rather hacking your x-box and taking it online and using exploits to ruin the game for everyone else. Also for the 360 they have 3 live service levels. I think they are silver gold and platinum. The silver is free like on the weekend and you cant compete in ranked games, but you can still get the additinal content that might be released for a game. For 60$ a year to not have to worry if the person on the other end is legitamitely kicking my ass or has some kind of bot laoded makes me feel better and also to be listed in rankings and get free extra content.

Re:Value of online play (1)

Pixelmixer (907566) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611260)

The main selling point IMO are games like Halo2 where people games are actually fun with more than 12 people playing... It makes it easier to have an online option than cramming 4 Xbox's into a house and cabling them all together.

As to the other games.. Like you said, the average player only has a few games, but its when they find that one game that is awesome online..

And the main reason XBox live ever had any success, was because a game like that already existed before it was created. Halo. People loved Halo in big groups, and online play only made it better... I dont know any statistics, but i'll bet 100$ that at least 75% of the XBox Live players started out on Live with Halo 2.

like for like (1)

jeebus81 (949997) | more than 8 years ago | (#14610884)

I remember reading that the next gen nintendo system will have access to their old NES games for download from a nintendo service. Would it be a far strecth for PS1 games to be available for download to the PS3? with the advent of fiber to the curve and higher capacity HDs, i think this would be a great differentiator between te 360 and the PS3.

Healthy Innovation (1)

Durrill (908003) | more than 8 years ago | (#14610909)

I could care less if Sony manages to deliver on their online services. The fact that they have decided to do so will push a little harder on M$ to keep the 360 Live service on the top spot. With each new feature that appears on one online service will no doubtedly appear on the competitor's aswell. I'm glad this is happening and I can't wait to see what nice new online goodies we all get out of it.

Lowering My Heating Bills! (1)

blueZhift (652272) | more than 8 years ago | (#14610916)

If Sony keeps blowing this much hot air, my heating bills should start to drop! Enough already. I know they need to stay in the news, but I'd rather that they concentrate on releasing a console that has some kick a** games. And of course they know they won't be able to steal the online crown from Live on the first try. Setting up an online service ain't like dustin crops, Sony!

I love xbox but... (1)

pmancini (20121) | more than 8 years ago | (#14610950)

Microsoft so screwed up the launch of the 360 the business mags are noting its hurting their bottom line and their outlook. It just floors me that a company so well known for business tactics (underhanded or just otherwise strong arm) managed to flub a launch so horribly. This is beyond the Japan roll out which was busted as far back as their planning meetings.

The lack of boxes available for the retail chain for the holiday kept me from getting one (and I certainly won't compete to pay $1000 for something that should cost $400.) The delay means I don't even have one today and now plan on waiting and enjoying my Xbox-1.

I think Sony nearly wet themselves over the last 2 months watching this spectacle. If anything Sony now has breathing room do really perfect the PS3. Unless Microsoft can pull an amazing comeback I expect Sony to strap on the hobnailed boots and introduce Microsoft to a serious butt kicking. They've been waiting for this opportunity since Okinawa!

Seriously though, I think Sony has a great opportunity to put it to Microsoft like never before. The 360 was supposed to bring balance to the force... er I mean launch Microsoft to top of the pile. Now that its introduction was bungled so bad I think Sony is going to take the time to make sure the PS3 is extremely strong - perhaps strong enough to push Gates out of the market.

Again, I say all of this and am a big fan of the xbox. However even a fan has to own up to the facts.

And to back my initial statement about 360 killing MSFT read these:

http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/5140.html [earthtimes.org]
http://localnewsleader.com/jackson/stories/index.p hp?action=fullnews&id=132788 [localnewsleader.com]
http://www.reflector-online.com/vnews/display.v/AR T/2006/01/25/43d78f7f0f8a8 [reflector-online.com]

Why even in NORWAY they have this to say!
Bill Gates och hans någotsånär stora företag Microsoft har som alla bör känna till släppt nu två konsoller på marknaden. Den första gick enligt Forbes back hela 4 miljarder dollar. Gates snackar om detta, och han berättar att Xbox'arna är en långtidsinvestering.

Re:I love xbox but... (5, Funny)

Esteanil (710082) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611057)

Why even in NORWAY they have this to say! Bill Gates och hans någotsånär stora företag Microsoft har som alla bör känna till släppt nu två konsoller på marknaden. Den första gick enligt Forbes back hela 4 miljarder dollar. Gates snackar om detta, och han berättar att Xbox'arna är en långtidsinvestering.

The language you're quoting would be swedish...
Generally, we norwegians do not write in swedish ;-)

Backwards compatibility? (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 8 years ago | (#14610951)

If this is what they intend to do with the PlayStation 3's online offering, will you still be able to play PlayStation 2 games on the console online without having to go through the service?

If you think Live + PlayOnline is bad, just wait until you install Final Fantasy on your PlayStation 3. Or is that one of the games it won't be backwards-compatible with?

Much like the PSP (1)

SetupWeasel (54062) | more than 8 years ago | (#14610955)

Development is probably starting with the announcement.

Well, Good and Bad (1)

ursabear (818651) | more than 8 years ago | (#14610963)

I really enjoyed the Unreal Tournament games from my home computers for a time. I enjoyed that it was free, and that there were always folks willing and able to frag me repeatedly as I tried in vain to respawn. It was fun - I wouldn't have paid for it, though.

I have evolved my gaming to going back to platform games and driving games. I enjoy getting fragged by my children (in Halo or whatever) much more than paying lots of money for an adaptor and subscription fees. My kids (the Cubz) are much more fun with which to interact than someone who spends 10+ hours a day gaming alone in their room.

Sorry, I didn't mean that to be cynical. On the contrary - I'm trying to say that online gaming isn't for me.

Re:Well, Good and Bad (2, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611034)

Basically you find what most other people find. Online gaming is fun when you play against your friends and your friends are around the same skill level as you. Once you get into this giant online community, where people play 10 hours a day, it isn't fun anymore, because it's too hard, and not everyone wants to devote that kind of time to it. I think that with the power these new boxes have, you should be able to host your own server, and play multiplayer just with your own friends for free, the way it's been done for years on PCs.

Re:Well, Good and Bad (1)

Saige (53303) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611275)

But then you end up with friends online, and start playing with them regularly, and stop dealing with the random hordes when you don't want to. Meaning you get to do exactly what you said should happen - you host a game, and play with your friends. I do it all the time on XBL.

And as some services have ranking systems designed to match you up with players of similar skill, you don't even have to worry that random idiots will be a ton better.

One thing hopefully (2, Interesting)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | more than 8 years ago | (#14610973)

A few years ago Sony made a big to do about Cell Processing, and the ability to do distributed computing across networks. The idea was they were going to put Cell processors in everything from soup to nuts, and these would all combine to make your PS3 more powerful. In addition to this, Sony was describing the ability to connect PS3's together over a network and allow them to combine to create a super-computing gaming system.

The one thing that Sony could do to make their online presence greater then Xbox Live would be to enable some form of shared processing environment, either to directly improve gaming performance, OR even to facilitate using the PS3 to work on global science problems while your not using it, like the slew of _@home distributed scientific projects. Using your PS3 for more then just vapid video gaming would make it appeal to a greater audience as it could find aliens, accurately predict weather, cure cancer, solve world hunger and facilitate world peace. I would buy a game console that could do all that. Xbox360 sucks because it can't do that.

Re:One thing hopefully (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14611233)

Sooo... the Xbox 360 sucks because it can't cure cancer....

I know we hate microsoft and all, but isn't that expectation a tad high?

iPod Killer? (1)

szrachen (913408) | more than 8 years ago | (#14610986)

I must've been living under a rock. I didn't realize that the iPod was dead or dying. We better check with Steve Jobs on that one.

Microsoft's Online Service Is A Flop (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14611003)

The first Microsoft online service was a marketplace flop - just like the system itself. Only around eight percent of owners paid for the service.

The flop of the first Microsoft online attempt has led to Microsoft having to scramble to follow Sony and Nintendo's online models of free play for users. The Silver and Gold stuff is Microsoft's attempt to come up with something Sony and Nintendo have had for some time now.

No one but a very tiny number of hardcore xbox fans are stupid enough to pay for chat, p2p, and login services from a console company. Microsoft is in a tight spot with the 360 and online play. They will most likely be forced to stop charging for what Nintendo and Sony are already giving away for free.

I don't think Microsoft will be able to make the necessary changes to their online service to stay comptetitive in the online console market. They will most likely remain a niche segment of a niche console.

Not too Hard (1)

COMON$ (806135) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611020)

They could redeem themselves easily with the PS3, with a live network you could add the ability to download games, movies, and music. With WB attempting to profit/"cut losses" in P2P markets Sony could easily compete if they did something along these lines.

Pay service? (1)

Mullinator (939148) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611025)

With the costs of being a console gamer in this next generation constantly rising this had better not be a pay service. There used to be this old saying that you could only call yourself a "true gamer" if you bought all the major systems, however I can't see that being used anymore because it is just far too expensive. HDTV, $400 Xbox, Xbox Live fees, $500(maybe)PS3, Sony online service fees, $250(maybe)Nintendo Revolution, games for each system. There is no way a lot of people are going to be paying the online service fees for both an Xbox and a PS3 at the same time. I think I will be sticking with a nice Nintendo Revolution, free online, and my regular SDTV. Online access fees and useless (to me) non-gaming media features can kiss my ass.

Hype (1)

PacketScan (797299) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611064)

Over hyped POS.. I sold mine on Ebay after playing it for 8 hours and 5 reboots.

All the Microsoft zombies come out of the woodwork (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14611088)

...to defend their precious Xbox and their master corporation.

Using stuff like "rootkit" and "Emotion Engine", these guys are relentless.

Isn't it ironic that Microsoft has done more damage to the software industry and it's competitors than Sony has ever done to the electronics industry?

In fact, Sony's R&D has helped keep the electronics industry on it's toes.

I don't think so. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14611187)

Aside from buying Bungie, possibly the one thing Microsoft has done right (very right) with Xbox is Xbox Live. It's going to be hard for Sony or Nintendo to match this second generation of Xbox live with their first gen offerings.

Sony is renowned for their utter marketing HORSESHIT and this is no different. Emotion engine, anyone?

Disclaimer: huge Apple/Nintendo fan here. But Xbox live is unquestionably a fantastic service.

More disguised Microsoft PR (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14611193)

from Zonk

Well that's a change (1)

shoptroll (544006) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611209)

Interesting... hasn't their whole stance been "you're on your own" in regards to connecting with other players for games? Given that their competition (MS and to a lesser degree, whether or not they consider themselves a competittor, Nintendo) have both rolled out various connection & matchmaking services, both to great success, it would've been foolish of them to not consider doing the same.

On a side note, if this is related to them missing the purported "spring release" then that's not going to be a bad thing for them in my mind. Especially if they can get some launch titles to take advantage of it.

Could it be with SOE? (2, Interesting)

Yez70 (924200) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611220)

Sony Online Entertainment (provider EQ, Matric Online, SWG as well as various PS and PSP online titles) released an interview recntly that sheds a little light on this.... http://www.gamergod.com/article.php?article_id=353 8 [gamergod.com]

whats next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14611235)

Whats next? a KEEBORD? How about a MOWS? OH OH, perhaps a WEB BWOWSER!

Can Sony beat out Microsoft this round? (4, Insightful)

CaseM (746707) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611244)

Abso-fuckin-lutely not. People are used to Sony's constant hype machine bullshit, and when you're already used to the stink it's pretty easy to tell reality from BS and this is utter BS.

The fact is, Sony's constant "we don't need a Live service to compete with MS" has been shown to be as last-gen-thinking as the PS2's graphics currently are. Sony NEEDS to compete on this front (XBox Live/Arcade is fantastic) and isn't currently in any position to do it...at least if they launch in '06. MS is already on iteration 2 of their service for god's sake.

sony's online service is.... good enough (2, Funny)

YOND R BOY (463829) | more than 8 years ago | (#14611273)

sony is totally that guy that just makes up outrageous stuff every time he opens his mouth.

here are some possible add campaigns:

Sony's online service: more amazing than the time michael jackson came over the house to use the bathroom

Sony's online service: More amazing than the time kutaragi saved those old people from that nursing home fire
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