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Xbox Live Silver Accounts Now Wait a Week For Demos

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the yet-another-monthly-fee dept.

XBox (Games) 108

1up notes a change in the way that Xbox Live Silver-level (free) memberships work. Now folks that don't pay will have to wait an additional week to get game demos. Microsoft's Xbox representative Major Nelson assures us it's not meant to 'annoy' users of the service, but to provide additional value to Gold subscribers. "When people talk about features they'd like to see added to an Xbox Live Gold subscription, dedicated servers, expanded buddy lists or separate bandwidth pipes for popular downloads are first to mind. Instead of adding features to the Gold experience, however, they're "enhancing" Gold subscriptions by continuing a practice started last summer of stripping Silver members of features and making them Gold-only."

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FInally! (4, Funny)

Farakin (1101889) | more than 6 years ago | (#21600453)

Now my perceived value of $4.99 a month is justified! Take that cheap asses!

Re:FInally! (0)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21600499)

No joke. If they (the silver members) REALLY cared, they'd pay the money to have demos at the same time. They don't care enough, so they won't pay it.

When the 360 was released, they announced there would be content that Silver members would -never- get. That hasn't happened, and they're lucky. What were they going to do, refuse to play games online? Oh noes.

Re:FInally! (4, Insightful)

pthor1231 (885423) | more than 6 years ago | (#21601079)

There is indeed content silver members can't get. Any online play.

Re:FInally! (1)

Ogive17 (691899) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602927)

Can't download updated rosters for sports games either.

Re:FInally! (1)

StonedYoda47 (732257) | more than 6 years ago | (#21615007)

How's that any different from not getting any offline play? Of course, that probably costs more than $4.99/month

Not new (5, Informative)

MeanMF (631837) | more than 6 years ago | (#21600473)

They've had this policy in place for over a year. The change is that now silver accounts can see the content in the list even though they can't download it yet. If they try to download it, they get a message explaining the situation. Before the update, the content just wouldn't show up in their list at all.

Re:Not new (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21601287)

Ahhh, so the only thing that's really changed is they've found yet another way to advertise the Gold membership to people. Gotcha.

Re:Not new (1)

shadowcode (852856) | more than 6 years ago | (#21610863)

Are you sure about that? I seem to remember downloading the Bioshock demo on the day it got released.

Re:Not new (1)

vimh42 (981236) | more than 6 years ago | (#21616105)

Ahh. So it was meant to annoy users and provide perceived value when nothing has really changed. If it doesn't work, it means its broken. So it shouldn't be displayed.

SLASHDOT SUX0RZ (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21600501)

_0_
\''\
'=o='
.|!|
.| |
goatse still unavailable on XBox Live [goatse.ch]

Re:SLASHDOT SUX0RZ (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 6 years ago | (#21604549)

wrong... [joystiq.com]

Re:SLASHDOT SUX0RZ (1)

miyako (632510) | more than 6 years ago | (#21611845)

I'm not sure if you are saying the parent is "wrong" or the link is wrong...in either case I agree.

Translation (5, Insightful)

Sentry21 (8183) | more than 6 years ago | (#21600515)

Microsoft's Xbox representative Major Nelson assures us it's not meant to 'annoy' users of the service, but to provide additional value to Gold subscribers.
In other words, 'We divided XBL into Silver and Gold, but Gold wasn't worth the money, so instead of adding value to Gold, we're stripping it from Silver.

Re:Translation (5, Funny)

RandoX (828285) | more than 6 years ago | (#21600599)

This reminds me of something... Where was it that allowed paying members to see the content earlier? I can't remember.

Re:Translation (1)

GodInHell (258915) | more than 6 years ago | (#21601561)

Where was it that allowed paying members to see the content earlier?
Only if they give gold members the chance to play with bugs included in the demo. Then it's an apt comparison.

-GiH

Re:Translation (1)

brjndr (313083) | more than 6 years ago | (#21616463)

Put hand over head, open palmed, palm down.

Quickly move towards back of head.

Make *whoosh* sound with mouth.

Re:Translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21600717)

I thought I read that same translation in the last sentence of the summary.
 

Re:Translation (0, Redundant)

Victor Antolini (725710) | more than 6 years ago | (#21600871)

Indeed... talk about being redundant being redundant!

Re:Translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21602511)

Oh, the irony of your post being modded redundant. +1 for the mods.

Re:Translation (1, Insightful)

Morgon (27979) | more than 6 years ago | (#21600915)

No, the only real 'change' is that Silver members see the content they're missing out on. As another poster mentioned, this is something that's been the case for over a year; although I don't think it was always enforced.

I don't see why everyone is sensationalizing this. Bandwidth costs money - Gold subscribers at $50 a year pay for that. If you have a free account, why shouldn't it be considered a gift that you're able to download these things at all?

Re:Translation (1, Funny)

Chosen Reject (842143) | more than 6 years ago | (#21601633)

Bandwidth costs money - Gold subscribers at $50 a year pay for that. If you have a free account, why shouldn't it be considered a gift that you're able to download these things at all?
And that is why I have no problem paying for Steam and Battle.net. Every month when I see the bills for those services, I am reminded how grateful I should be that some companies saw the opportunity that was there to host online games and have a friends list and the ability to download demos, purchase games and the like. I mean, without my money going to those two services every month, how in the world would they be able to survive?

Re:Translation (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602223)

Simple. By charging you $75 per game instead of $60.....of course, at one point, that AAA title rate was a lot closer to $35.

Layne

Re:Translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21602981)

I don't know about you, but my still-functioning copy of Diablo II cost a lot less than $75. And I bought the collector's edition.

Re:Translation (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603091)

If you're unhappy with the price of games, switch to Wii. The most expensive games are $50, with many lower than that. There's a couple like DDR that cost more than $50, but that's because they come with extra hardware.

Steam activation (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602961)

And that is why I have no problem paying for Steam
I assume that was intended as sarcasm. But Steam does cost the end-user money on top of the retail price of a single-player PC game. Some machines used for single-player gaming are kept off the Internet on purpose so that they don't get rooted and become spam zombies. A player on such a computer would have to buy a modem (Google Products shows USB modems starting at $20) and sign up for NetZero ($15 a month) to activate the game because unlike Windows Product Activation, Steam does not work with activation over a voice phone call. (Users in developed countries are still more likely to have home phone service than home Internet service.)

and Battle.net.
Unlike Warcraft, Diablo, and Starcraft before it, Blizzard's current product [google.com] does cost per month.

Re:Steam activation (1)

Chosen Reject (842143) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603285)

I assume that was intended as sarcasm.
It was.

Some machines used for single-player gaming are kept off the Internet on purpose
And that relates to Xbox Live how? If one really wanted to keep their machine off the internet, they wouldn't be able to download demos, they wouldn't even have need for a friends list, let alone be able to access it, and they wouldn't be able to play online either. Very few games require Steam activation unless you purchase them on Steam, but then that means you already have some kind of internet connection. In that same situation on the 360, that person wouldn't be worried at all about Xbox live or its costs. Your statement there (and the bulk of your post) are only valid in the context of a few games that require Steam activation, but isn't even relevant when talking about the comparison between Steam and Xbox Live and their associated costs.

Unlike Warcraft, Diablo, and Starcraft before it, Blizzard's current product does cost per month.
You may also have noticed that WoW is a totally different situation. You mentioned 4 games, but one of them is not like the others. Battle.net doesn't actually host games, just like Xbox Live doesn't. Players host their own games and then report back when done, just like Xbox Live does. WoW, on the other hand, hosts the game and that requires a lot of servers.

Re:Steam activation (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 6 years ago | (#21605055)

> Battle.net doesn't actually host games,

If you are playing Open Battle.net, that is true - you host the game.
But if you are playing closed Battle.net, that is false - the server hosts the game.

Re:Translation (1)

GeckoX (259575) | more than 6 years ago | (#21601643)

Yet another instance of the biggest lie going in media.

Remember when TV was paid for by the advertisements? Yeah, and then we got suckered into paying to be fed MORE advertisements.

What is XBox Live except an advertising stream that generates revenue for MS? And to get the highest level of advertising on your plate...you get to pay for it!

Bandwidth costs money, but that is most certainly not the only part of the equation here. That bandwidth cost is simply the cost of spoon feeding you advertising, which generates revenue.

That would be why it shouldn't be considered a gift.

Re:Translation (2, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603017)

You're right. I'm pretty sure that the publishers pay quite a bit of money to get their game demo on XBL. MS doesn't do that for free. The publisher pays, the user pays, MS gets rich.

Re:Translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21609905)

OMG they're in it to make money? Quickly, call the DOJ and have Bill Gates kneecapped judiciously.

Re:Translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21601785)

Bandwidth costs money - Gold subscribers at $50 a year pay for that. If you have a free account, why shouldn't it be considered a gift that you're able to download these things at all?

So Morgon, please tell us where you stand on the whole network neutrality debate.

Re:Translation (3, Insightful)

ECMIM (946033) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602025)

Yeah, I mean it isn't as if Sony is giving you online play and demos for free, right? Wait, what? They are?! This changes everything!

Re:Translation (1)

flitty (981864) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603887)

And worth every penny from what i hear...

Re:Translation (1)

powerlord (28156) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612803)

And worth every penny from what i hear...


Yes, its worth every penny I don't give MS.

Re:Translation (1)

ChaosDiscord (4913) | more than 6 years ago | (#21609093)

Bandwidth costs money - Gold subscribers at $50 a year pay for that. If you have a free account, why shouldn't it be considered a gift that you're able to download these things at all?

I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that it should be free because these are demos. They're advertisements for the full game. Demos manage to be free to download for PC games, and PC demos are frequently much larger.

The most obvious way to solve the problem like PC demos did: make it advertising supported. You might as well start charging movie goers a $0.25 surcharge to cover the cost of screening the trailers before the movie; after all, someone needs to set things up, and you have wear and tear on the projector and electricity.

Of course, this really has nothing to do with recovering bandwidth costs. The reality is that game publishers discovered that they can hand off downloads to profiteering, deadweight, no-value middlemen like FilePlanet and actually get paid for it. The better solution would be peer-to-peer technology like BitTorrent that means that popular downloads would cost almost nothing to distribute, and unpopular ones will be cheap since they're unpopular.

Demos should be freely available. If it's too expensive to ship them yourself, publish an MD5 (so people can validate their downloads) and let people host them themselves. Something equivalent could easily be set up for Xbox Live.

Re:Translation (1)

XavidX (1117783) | more than 6 years ago | (#21609423)

Havn't I already paid for my Bandwidth and Doesn't Microsoft get money from game developers to have there demo on LIVE (maybe).

I download tones of shit off the internet on a daily basis. I dont need a gold subscription to get everything else off the internet.

When I bought my xbox 360 this gift was something that was in the product description and every game i buy says "downloadable content" available on the back.

Anyway the whole subscription thing for consoles is something I can get on my PC for free. I can download demos. I can play online for several of my favorite games for free.

If there is a game that is available for the console and the pc. I usually buy it on the pc if it has online play.

Re:Translation (1)

aikouka (932902) | more than 6 years ago | (#21616369)

Well, on the PC there are places like FilePlanet that provide exclusive demos/betas to their paying subscribers only. You either don't get this demo at all or you have to wait until the exclusivity runs out.

I'm actually kind of glad that my gold subscription actually has a sense of worth to it now more than just playing games online (which I don't do all that often anyway). Also, as long as the week delay doesn't put the demo out for Silver members after the game comes out, I don't see where the actual problem is. Sounds like people don't want to hear others clamoring about how great a demo is and they can't remark because they can't get it.

Re:Translation (1)

MyDixieWrecked (548719) | more than 6 years ago | (#21600949)

I'd hate to see where this is going; perceived value is a crock.

$5 a month to play online, sure, ok, I buy that. They want control over the whole online multiplayer environment, but to take away permissions that previously existed (I was about to use the word 'features,' but then I realized that seeing content when it's released isn't really a feature) and allowing paying accounts to access the demos before the non-paying ones just stinks.

If they wanted to add more perceived value, they could offer pre-release demos (betas) or additional content or even a teeshirt or something.

I am a gold member, but this still really annoys me.

Re:Translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21601067)

manufactures can offer betas off xbox live, COD4 and Halo 3 did, and you didn't have to buy Halo 3 to get in on the beta. Many active Halo 2 (why was anyone playing that?) players were also invited.

Additional content amount to 360 skins, maps, free movies (thanks mcdonalds) and shitloads of game videos and other random stuff. so way to be ignorant and offer up stuff it already does in your "new ideas"

Re:Translation (1)

MyDixieWrecked (548719) | more than 6 years ago | (#21601249)

Halo3 beta access came with crackdown.

COD4... my roommate got it somehow... not sure where it came from. I thought he signed up online. And I'm pretty sure his account isn't gold. They should have a Game Prereleases section or something in addition to the demos.

and I never saw any additional free stuff that was gold-only. I've gotten free shit that's come with games (skins/avatars).

Game videos are not a perk, unless they're Xboxlive exclusive.

Re:Translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21601315)

You're wrong about Halo 3. Halo 3 beta access ALSO came with Crackdown. A great many people were invited from Halo 2.

Re:Translation (5, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | more than 6 years ago | (#21601169)

Major Nelson is full of shit.

Adding a delay to Silver members is providing "additional value" to Gold members? How so? As a Gold member, I get games on release day right now. With this change, I *still* get games on release day.

There is no value added to the gold account. The only change in value is some being stripped from the Silver accounts. If he were being honest, he'd have said "This is not mean to annoy users, but to provide INCENTIVE to subscribe to gold accounts".

Additional value would be free downloadable content or discounts on the games for gold members.

Re:Translation (1)

provigilman (1044114) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602537)

Yeah dude you're totally. WTF is up with paying customers getting their free stuff earlier? I mean damn, who would ever do that????

[Hint: Look at the main page of /. where it says subscribers get stories earlier]

I guess now Major Nelson is ripping off Commander Taco for ideas, right?

Re:Translation (1)

gullevek (174152) | more than 6 years ago | (#21608309)

There is a bit difference here. A demo is a demo. And it wont change anything about the actual game that both gold and silver can purchase. Or did it change that silver accounts are not allowed to play the game until a month passed since the release day?

A slashdot story is the final release, thats not a preview or a demo from the story ...

Re:Translation (1)

provigilman (1044114) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613985)

A Slashdot story is summary written by someone like Zonk. They're not exactly penning a peer reviewed doctorate thesis here... The simple fact is, at Slashdot if you pay you get the stories early. On XBox Live if you pay you get the demos early. Plus, as you pointed out, it doesn't affect the actual game that's purchased at all, just the demo.

There's no difference here, other than the fact that one involves Microsoft.

Re:Translation (1)

CFTM (513264) | more than 6 years ago | (#21614601)

But that is the most important difference that can ever exist on slashdot....Microsoft.

Maybe Commander Taco should take Xbox Live to court over IP infringement, after all it was Slashdots idea first! THOSE BASTARDS!

Re:Translation (2, Insightful)

twistedsymphony (956982) | more than 6 years ago | (#21601459)

In other words...
Other words, eh?
The Title:

Xbox Live Silver Accounts Now Wait a Week for Demos
Why Not:

Xbox Live Gold Accounts Now Get Demos a Week Early
Everyone keeps taking about them eroding the Silver experience instead of making Gold worth while, aside from the fact that this is the way XBL has worked for over a year now and nothing about the delivery schedule has changed they're actually adding a feature to the Silver accounts in that they now have the ability to see the Gold content they don't yet have access to where before they could not (but still had to wait for it)
If the person who wrote the title actually knew what they were talking about it would read:

Xbox Live Silver Accounts Now Get to See What They've Been Missing
As much as I'd like to see them implement some new features for gold like group chat, a clan system, Marketplace discounts or some other perk, I think the the fact that Gold subscribers getting things EARLY as a perk being twisted into pessimism is rather ridiculous.

Re:Translation (1)

GeckoX (259575) | more than 6 years ago | (#21601719)

Newsflash: Upgrade to XBox Live Gold NOW and you'll get to pay for demos which you will get a whole week earlier than Silver subscribers! Yes! That's right! Only $50 dollars a year and you will get our advertisements a whole week earlier!!!

When did people forget that that is what demos are: nothing but advertisements, plain and simple.

Re:Translation (1)

twistedsymphony (956982) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602211)

Is it really that "simple"? Demo's are more than just advertisements, they're the equivalent of a software test drive:
Spend 15 minutes with the Game for free and determine if it's worth spending $60 to play more

Would you consider going to a car dealership and taking a car for a test drive "advertising". I'm not talking about the sales pitch before and after the drive, I'm not talking about what brought you to the dealership in the first place but the actual test drive... How is a demo any different than that?

Nevermind the fact that playing a demo is such a good tool in the purchase decision process that console gamers last generation (and even this generation) are more than willing to buy magazines with bonus discs for the privilege.

Re:Translation (2, Insightful)

GeckoX (259575) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602375)

When was the last time you had to pay for a test drive?

Trust me, it's advertising. Just because people have been suckered into paying for various types of advertising doesn't mean it makes any sense to do so. Remember, there's a sucker born every minute!

Re:Translation (1)

greedyturtle (968401) | more than 6 years ago | (#21604955)

People keep forgetting that Xbox live: Gold isn't about demos. You don't have to pay for the demos, you can get the free. A week later than those who are paying for the service that connects you to other people online to play games.

Re:Translation (1)

GeckoX (259575) | more than 6 years ago | (#21611099)

And people keep forgetting that before they had to pay for that service on XBox, that was par for the course and free for PC games for ages.

Just sayin ;)

Re:Translation (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602343)

There are some games that I treat the (playable) demo as the game. I like it enough to fire up the demo and play it but not enough to bother buying the game. Many racing games fall into that category.....what's only having one track and four cars when the game itself only has 8 tracks and 16 cars. Who cares if I lose multiplayer in a game that few people play. These games usually fall into genres I don't normally play or games that would score less than 60% on a ratings scale.

Layne

Re:Translation (1)

GeckoX (259575) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602449)

And some people watch the shopping channel just for entertainment, your point being?
That doesn't make them not advertisements.

Re:Translation (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603275)

By that logic, you could categorize the full version of the game as an advertisement for itself. If I go over to a friend's house, and he's playing Halo2, and I say, Hey, that looks cool, then the game has just acted as advertising for itself. Actually, every product is an advertisement for itself by this logic.

Re:Translation (1)

GeckoX (259575) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603393)

Yes, every product is indeed an advertisement for itself. But there are ads, and there are products. I wouldn't classify demos as products myself though. I won't pay for an ad, though an ad might entice me to buy a product. IE: The purpose of demos, and why traditionally they are free.

Re:Translation (1)

twistedsymphony (956982) | more than 6 years ago | (#21604189)

No matter how you "classify" it I see it this way: Demos have saved me hundred of dollars if not thousands over the last decade in games that I would have wasted money buying, and at the same time allowed me to discover new games that I otherwise wouldn't have paid any mind to.

As a console gamer demos have never been "free" for me and IMO they're well worth the cost of a magazine or XBL subscription to get because of what they provide in aiding my purchase choices.

I couldn't care less if they're an "advertisement", they're f*cking useful, and worth spending a little on to save a whole lot more down the road.

FWIW I also purchased the BMW Films DVD ADVERTISEMENT because I enjoyed watching it. It's one thing to stand by your convictions, it's another to have convictions that stand in the way of your own enjoyment or benefit for no good reason.

Re:Translation (1)

Daedone (981031) | more than 6 years ago | (#21608489)

You guys do realize Demo is short for DemoNSTRATION, right?

Re:Translation (1)

GeckoX (259575) | more than 6 years ago | (#21611159)

The masses have apparently convinced themselves otherwise ;)

Re:Translation (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 6 years ago | (#21607261)

There are some games that I treat the (playable) demo as the game. I like it enough to fire up the demo and play it but not enough to bother buying the game. Many racing games fall into that category.....what's only having one track and four cars when the game itself only has 8 tracks and 16 cars. Who cares if I lose multiplayer in a game that few people play. These games usually fall into genres I don't normally play or games that would score less than 60% on a ratings scale.
Does this mean you are one of the people who will buy a xbox gold account for a year (50USD) just to get demos a week earlier?

Re:Translation (3, Insightful)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 6 years ago | (#21609511)

If the person who wrote the title actually knew what they were talking about it would read:...

I think the the fact that Gold subscribers getting things EARLY as a perk being twisted into pessimism is rather ridiculous.
So, your perspective is:

Silver members get demos just when they always would have - when the demo's ready. Gold members get an "enhanced" service where demo makers rush out a demo a week before it's ready yet miraculously manage it in such a bug free state that their new, rush product is so good they don't need to modify it to match what they used to deliver a week later and now do for Silver users?

Wow. Game makers are getting really good.

Alternatively, a year ago, Microsoft imposed an arbitrary delay on Silver users getting demos - demos that system buyers had been led to believe they got when they were ready as part of their basic purchase - in order to create a false sense of value for Gold users. Rather than face the pretty reasonable outrage of the community at the time, they hid what they did, not reminding Silver users about how they'd just had what they'd already bought from Microsoft ganked. Now, a year later, figuring a lot of people have forgotten they paid for a system with a service that promised Silver users getting demos when they were ready, they figure there won't be such a backlash. Now it's more profitable for them to say, "Hey, you're missing out. [Please don't remember we manufactured that missing out]. Buy the expensive version! [Please don't remember that you did buy that but we, uh, stripped it and gave it to a more expensive version.]"

The summary was incorrect. It should have read:

XBox Live figures less backlash, now tells Silver users how they screwed them a year ago to encourage upgrading now.
The sad thing is the number of sheep who don't get that taking something away from one service, only to make another seem better, really is a degredation of the original and not an enhancement of the newer one.

They successfully teach Microsoft:

Hey, in a year's time, why don't you release "XBox Live Platinum - With advance access to Halo 4 demos that Gold users don't get, all for $19.99/month"?

The sheep will then see Platinum as an "upgrade" despite the fact they bought a system with Silver that was meant to have demos when they arrive, then upgraded to Gold to get them, and now have to upgrade yet again to Platinum.

I have a 360 and the free Silver membership which, as far as I can tell, is worth exactly what I pay for it. There's not a lot left for Microsoft to strip from it. They can't remove store access - it just means they sell less. They can't remove their current poor demo access - it just means less sales. Take any more and they just cost themselves money.

If anything, they've already gone too far. They've hobbled so many of their games as to make them almost unplayable without a Gold account (Test Drive Unlimited requires your gamerscore to unlock the game and then ties the easy methods for doing it to the auction system that again requires Gold membership). Knowing I'll inevitably find my play experience degraded as punishment for not giving Microsoft more money each month, I buy less 360 games and more on the PC where makers like Valve manage to offer all of the services without "needing" enhanced and expensive levels of service. They create a system where I'm punished for not spending, what, half a dozen bucks a month? In exchange, I buy $20-30 less in games each month for the system because I know it's artificially hobbled. The point has already come where trying to grab money now has had a knock on effect on how much money they get overall.

The challenge is, companies like Microsoft have some numbers they can predict and see easily and some they can't.

They know: Hey, since stripping features from Silver, we're up 1m Gold accounts from our previous predictions. We make $6m a month more, high fives all around!

They see: We sold $50m in games last month. Yay us!

What they don't see: Gamers would have bought $60m in games last month but $10m in sales stayed away because Silver users knew the games would suck. There's just no way to see that number.

In their boardrooms, they're high fiving themselves for making $6m extra, there's no realization they lost $4m overall.

I worked for a game company that did something pretty similar. They milked and they milked their customers - which they always called "enhanced" service. By launching the latest milking push just before end of year numbers were in, they managed to claim they'd improved numbers and were doing great. Except the core flock they were milking dropped by a factor of about 4 over the five years I was there. Having 10 million consumers giving you $50 is MUCH better than 2.5 million giving you $60. They'd self congratulate on new ways of squeezing $10 out of their existing customers by selling them something "enhanced" but couldn't understand why their customers kept leaving and they made less and less money.

So, yeah... Taking something away from what people thought they'd already paid for, just to inflate something more expensive is ganking, it's not enhancing. Waiting a year for the backlash to die down and then using it as a sales ploy is still nothing better and doesn't suddenly make it an enhancement. Sadly, in the short term, that strategy works. Enough sheep follow, you make more money. In the long term, your sheep turn against you and you can't figure out why squeezing and squeezing them makes you less and less money.

Re:Translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21612921)

The sheep will then see Platinum as an "upgrade" despite the fact they bought a system with Silver that was meant to have demos when they arrive, then upgraded to Gold to get them, and now have to upgrade yet again to Platinum.


Of course, these are the same people who buy core 360s, and then pay for the Hard-drive and the HD-DVD attachment and a WiFi dongle, instead of buying a PS3 that would provide the same value (obviously with a different library), for more money, and then constantly complain about how the PS3 doesn't provide any value, why would anyone buy one.

People (in the U.S. at least) are too used to buying on credit and paying little monthly installments. This sort of purchasing doesn't seem like much to them.

Re:Translation (1)

AbRASiON (589899) | more than 6 years ago | (#21604037)

Look at it this way.

The demos are free, they will still get them, it's just the gold members get it 1 week earlier as an exclusive.
That's not so bad now is it?

Sure gold may be a rip off but that's not up for debate in this instance, silver is still 'free' - so really, if you don't like it, pony up.

Re:Translation (1)

chrish (4714) | more than 6 years ago | (#21611597)

This is actually the #2 reason why I won't buy a 360 (#1 is hardware quality, obviously). I'm not dropping $400 or whatever on hardware and then another $50+/year to be able to access all of the advertised features. Sure it's $5/month or whatever, but that's on top of my DSL line and whatnot. I feel like a 360 would be "useless" (or maybe just "less fun") without the Live membership, and I hate feeling like I'm being forced to pay for a service.

#3 reason is probably that I already have way too many games (PS1, PS2, GameCube, Wii, PC, DS) that I need to finish. Stupid lack of free time.

JUST LIKE SLASHDOT!!!! (5, Funny)

MBraynard (653724) | more than 6 years ago | (#21600523)

Non-payers have to wait extra long to see news stories that were old when the subscribers got to see them.

You guys are right - M$ doesn't innovate, it steals ideas from others, now including Commodore Burito!

Re:JUST LIKE SLASHDOT!!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21602357)

If you subscribe to Slashdot, you can be frosty piss every time.

Hmm... (1)

pat mcguire (1134935) | more than 6 years ago | (#21600911)

"Instead of adding features to the Gold experience, however, they're "enhancing" Gold subscriptions by continuing a practice started last summer of stripping Silver members of features and making them Gold-only."" Making the standard package worse and then charging more for the same content in premium, where does this sound familiar... oh right. Viva la Xbox live network neutrality!

really? (2, Insightful)

SendBot (29932) | more than 6 years ago | (#21601027)

assures us it's not meant to 'annoy' users of the service, but to provide additional value to Gold subscribers

I was reading the major nelson site about this yesterday after reading tycho's post at PA about it.

It annoys me that value is being considered as a zero sum game. To enhance the value of gold memberships, they do so not by adding value to it, but detracting value from the free version.

And isn't the point of demos to produce interest in sales of new games, thereby increasing MS's licensing revenue? How exactly does this help increase their bottom line? I wouldn't expect anyone to upgrade for this reason alone, especially as it's done in poor taste.

Re:really? (1)

trdrstv (986999) | more than 6 years ago | (#21601941)

And isn't the point of demos to produce interest in sales of new games, thereby increasing MS's licensing revenue? How exactly does this help increase their bottom line?

Rather than having 1 massive wave of traffic to download the latest "HotDemo", you have 2 and the the paying customers get first crack. This lowers their infrastructure demands and (in theory) should be better for each set of customers because by having 2 availability dates the downloads for each set should be faster.

Re:really? (1)

SendBot (29932) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602069)

That sounds sensible, but I have a hard time seeing this to be a genuine problem that is alleviated with the new adjustment. Why not just throttle downloads to silver members? So maybe they don't have to wait a whole week, and can download it slowly overnight when bandwidth usage is not peaked.

At any rate, the reason given by major nelson was clear, and this was not it.

The Mysterious Future (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603321)

Why not just throttle downloads to silver members?
For the same reason that Slashdot subscribers get to see stories twenty minutes into the Mysterious Future.

Re:The Mysterious Future (1)

SendBot (29932) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603567)

Slashdot's future is engadget's, boingboing's, digg's, npr's, etc's past. We all know the only real value in getting a slashdot story ahead of everyone is a better chance to first post!

Slashdot subscriptions offer real value in other ways though.

I don't see a problem (2, Insightful)

oahazmatt (868057) | more than 6 years ago | (#21601173)

I'm an Xbox Live Silver Account user and quite honestly, I don't have a problem with this. Were I a Gold Account user, I would probably want as much value for my dollar as possible, even if it was something as simple as adding advanced downloads. It's not as if Silver Accounts will never get the opportunity to download the demos.

Re:I don't see a problem (1)

MooseMuffin (799896) | more than 6 years ago | (#21601923)

There have been a handful of occasions where a highly anticipated demo hits live and overwhelm the download servers (bioshock). I can see this change being beneficial to Gold members in such scenarios.

Doing The Wrong Thing (1)

EXTomar (78739) | more than 6 years ago | (#21601185)

I can appreciate that Gold subscriptions have leveled off and that Microsoft, like any company, needs to generate money to justify service. The right thing to do is enhance Gold service to offer real and compelling features that would make someone happy with Silver jump up to gold. But what happened is Microsoft made Silver just suck a bit more without adding anything to Gold. Not only are you irritating Silver users, you've slighted Gold users who wonder why they are spending $50 a year and only getting "less encumbered" as a service instead of new and meaningful services.

Thanks a bunch Microsoft.

Re:Doing The Wrong Thing (1)

Lally Singh (3427) | more than 6 years ago | (#21601601)

Hmm, microsoft deciding to screw users instead of innovating? This is new?

Re:Doing The Wrong Thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21605819)

Yeah, when I read this I finally made up my mind to just mod my xbox. Fuck these guys.

No value was added (2, Interesting)

Tridus (79566) | more than 6 years ago | (#21601347)

"but to provide additional value to Gold subscribers"

The problem is that no actual value was added. A gold subscripion pre-update is exactly the same as one post-update. No features were added, and nothing was changed. Demos are available at the same time they were before.

Adding value typically requires adding something that wasn't there previously.

(Not that gold actually is a value to begin with. "For only the cost of a game a year, you can actually use the multiplayer part of the games you bought! As opposed to PC and PS3 players, who can use that part without paying anything extra...")

Re:No value was added (1)

Brigade (974884) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602037)

Yea .. because shedding blood, sweat, and tears is not considered anything extra.

Granted, I don't have a PS3, so I'm operating from heresay, but from what I understand it isn't much better than PC MP gaming is.

I've been playing multiplayer online PC Gaming since Doom 2 (yes, over a damn modem). While I have always enjoyed it, and I didn't complain about it much at the time, it was a royal pain in the ass, and required a pretty hefty investment of time/energy/stress to get working now.

For example: I want to play some UT. So I boot my box (1-2 Mins), Log in to XP and let THAT boot (depending on current config, another 1-3 Mins), then load the game, then dig up the server list, then wait for it to populate, then try to jump in a game .. maybe it timeouts, maybe it connects .. etc. etc. This is all on a decent gaming rig (4 GB Ram, Intel P4 Extreme, SATA RAID 5)

Or .. I can fire up my 360 Elite (10 Secs), Fire up Halo 3 (10 Secs to Menu), Start Matchmaking, and be sitting in a lobby with 5 other lunatics (between 5 seconds and a few minutes) .. all for $400 and an extra $50 a year.

Add in voice chat, text messaging, etc. etc. all with pretty much no hassles, and it's pretty damn worth the extra $5 a month.

Re:No value was added (1)

randyest (589159) | more than 6 years ago | (#21604273)

I'm guessing your last multiplayer gaming experience on a PC was around the Doom 2 days. Try TF2, for example. Works perfectly.

BTW, your "decent gaming rig" takes up to 5 minutes to turn on and load XP? Something is wrong.

Re:No value was added (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 6 years ago | (#21607217)

For example: I want to play some UT. So I boot my box (1-2 Mins), Log in to XP and let THAT boot (depending on current config, another 1-3 Mins), then load the game, then dig up the server list, then wait for it to populate, then try to jump in a game .. maybe it timeouts, maybe it connects .. etc. etc. This is all on a decent gaming rig (4 GB Ram, Intel P4 Extreme, SATA RAID 5)
My gaming rig:
Athlon 64 1808 Mhz, no SSE3
1GB RAM
32bit Windows XP/Kubuntu (depends on the game)
ATi Radeon x600 pro

Takes about a minute to start up, and a few seconds to start any game and runs quite decent... Despite not being a top of the line rig.

I can pretty much immediately access a game server with players in UT, CoD4, TF2, HL2DM and so on. Unlike the xbox consoles, I can access dedicated servers on proper connections that can handle a good amount of users for playing games which are very reliable.

Or .. I can fire up my 360 Elite (10 Secs), Fire up Halo 3 (10 Secs to Menu), Start Matchmaking, and be sitting in a lobby with 5 other lunatics (between 5 seconds and a few minutes) .. all for $400 and an extra $50 a year.
Why don't you compare a relative game? Like TF2 on the xbox 360? Oh wait a sec, maybe you didn't because it doesn't have match making.

Add in voice chat, text messaging
There are modern multi-player PC games that can't?

all with pretty much no hassles, and it's pretty damn worth the extra $5 a month.
I don't believe you [steampowered.com] (emphasis mine).

Re:No value was added (1)

jgoemat (565882) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602081)

"but to provide additional value to Gold subscribers"

The problem is that no actual value was added. A gold subscripion pre-update is exactly the same as one post-update. No features were added, and nothing was changed. Demos are available at the same time they were before.

Actually it can be seen as adding value.

1. relative worth, merit, or importance: the value of a college education; the value of a queen in chess.

So relative to a silver subscription, it has increased in value. Before if you were looking at purchasing a gold subscription, you would not have received the bonus. Now if you look at purchasing it you will receive that extra value. It's kinda like diamonds and precious metals are valuable for their scarcity.

Re:No value was added (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603153)

Lets assume I sell cars (since slashdot loves/hates car analogies) and I also sell "extended warranties". I want more people to purchase the extended warranties, because they have much higher profit margins. The tires that come standard on all my cars are rated at 40,000 miles. If I announce that tomorrow, all cars purchased with extended warranties get 40,000 mile tires compared to our new standard 20,000 mile tires on non extended warranty cars, am I adding value?

Re:No value was added (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 6 years ago | (#21607079)

Lets assume I sell cars (since slashdot loves/hates car analogies) and I also sell "extended warranties". I want more people to purchase the extended warranties, because they have much higher profit margins. The tires that come standard on all my cars are rated at 40,000 miles. If I announce that tomorrow, all cars purchased with extended warranties get 40,000 mile tires compared to our new standard 20,000 mile tires on non extended warranty cars, am I adding value?
You're making the 'new standard' have less value, thus making the extended warranty more valuable, which is what Microsoft did with silver and gold in my opinion.

It certainly didn't increase the overall value of the services though.

Re:No value was added (1)

jgoemat (565882) | more than 6 years ago | (#21609479)

Lets assume I sell cars (since slashdot loves/hates car analogies) and I also sell "extended warranties". I want more people to purchase the extended warranties, because they have much higher profit margins. The tires that come standard on all my cars are rated at 40,000 miles. If I announce that tomorrow, all cars purchased with extended warranties get 40,000 mile tires compared to our new standard 20,000 mile tires on non extended warranty cars, am I adding value?

The extended warranty is more valuable. If you buy the extended warranty after the change, you get everything the warranty promised before, plus better tires. If you had purchased the car prior to the change, buying an extended warranty would have given you the same tires as you had without the warranty. Look at it this way... Let's say the original car warranty was 60,000 miles total car, and the extended warranty upped that to 100,000 miles total car. Now let's say the car company drops the standard warranty to just 36,000 miles and keeps the extended warranty for the same price and 100,000 miles. You're still getting the same 100,000 miles protection when you purchase the extended warranty, but after the change it has more value because it adds 64,000 miles to the standard warranty instead of just 40,000 miles.

Re:No value was added (1)

Thanatos69 (993924) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603227)

The problem is that no actual value was added. A gold subscripion pre-update is exactly the same as one post-update. No features were added, and nothing was changed. Demos are available at the same time they were before.


Depends on how you look at it. If you are paying 4.99/month for gold and it is taking you longer to download a demo because a bunch of non-paying silver accounts are downloading at the same time, removing the silver accounts for the first week and upping the total possible bandwidth is value added.

Typical Microsoft practices (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21601811)

Typical Microsoft practices, giving you crack always turns into selling you crack.

How to add value (4, Interesting)

SonicTheDeadFrog (1155815) | more than 6 years ago | (#21601917)

First off, think practically about this: demos are the video game equivalent of commercials - their sole reason for existence is to entice players to purchase the retail version of a game. This is like telling terrestrial TV viewers that if they want to see commercials then they're going to have to pony up for cable. The practical difference is that most viewers would rather not see commercials, and most players actively seek out demos, but the fact that this limits the scope of advertising remains constant.

M$ is not an organization of geniuses. If they were even reasonably intelligent, they would know that this isn't a viable way to try to scrape some revenue out of the enormous money pit that XBOX Live has become.

I think spending real money for leasing software (which is what anyone who spends any money on Live is doing) is plainly idiotic. It's roughly equivalent of rent-to-own and paycheck advance businesses in terms of ripping off consumers.

But if you are of the mindset that consumers exist to be taken advantage of, it doesn't take a rocket surgeon to see a better way. If you want to add value to entice people to get XBOX Live Gold, start giving them something YOU actually think is worth something, Microsoft, not pointing out that they still have some zero-value feature that you took away from other users.

Give Gold members Microsoft Points free when they get achievements and leave the Silver members with just their Achievement points. Or alternatively allow Gold members to simply accrue points when they renew their subscriptions. The worst possible outcome is that the subscribers take the free stuff and don't buy anything else so you haven't made any money beyond the subscription fee, but by the same token it costs you exactly nothing to give them this stuff for free, so it's a wash. On the other hand, if you get them to open their wallets to "rent" just one arcade title that they couldn't quite afford with the free points then you'll have gained real money for the same nothing, and potentially hooked them on the idea of downloaded content.

You could also invent a new more expensive "Platinum" membership tier that worked like cell phone service where you're allotted a certain number of points every month and have to pay extra for anything above that.

Personally I think software-as-a-service and pay-for-download is the most evil thing any corporation ever thought up. It is a completely one-sided arrangement and all of the advantage goes to the corporation, not the consumer. With physical product there is more cost to the corporation, but the consumer is given with a persistent and non-volatile representation of the software. With digital product, the corporation saves the cost of manufacture - a savings that is rarely apparent in digital download pricing - and the customer is given a volatile representation of the software on a device that the corporation can order to alter, destroy, or disable without the customer's consent. In the event of failure of that device, the customer is completely at the mercy of the corporation to replace the lost software. I would like to see the entire thing go down in flames; so please please please, ignore my advice, Microsoft.

Re:How to add value (2, Insightful)

TeraCo (410407) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602131)

You're mistaken. Game reviews are the video game equivalent of commercials. Demos are the equivalent of a 'test drive' when buying a new car. Your average ad man would reel in horror at the thought of giving a person access to 'advertising' that was just as likely to turn them away.

Re:How to add value (1)

SonicTheDeadFrog (1155815) | more than 6 years ago | (#21602479)

Test drives ARE advertisement. So are perfume samples.

They are not nearly as one-sided as television commercials, I agree, but average ad men only need to reel in horror if their product is bad. You don't think of car salesmen as being in advertising?

Re:How to add value (1)

TeraCo (410407) | more than 6 years ago | (#21603051)

No, salesmen are in sales.

Re:How to add value (1)

JebusIsLord (566856) | more than 6 years ago | (#21609567)

Actually no. I think of advertisers as being in sales.

Re:How to add value (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#21614347)

except more and more they are cherry picked and polished more then the game is.

To abuse you analogy:
It would be like test driving a Corvette and then getting a Geo metro with nice seats.

Re:How to add value (1)

The Analog Kid (565327) | more than 6 years ago | (#21607445)

Give Gold members Microsoft Points free when they get achievements and leave the Silver members with just their Achievement points. Or alternatively allow Gold members to simply accrue points when they renew their subscriptions. The worst possible outcome is that the subscribers take the free stuff and don't buy anything else so you haven't made any money beyond the subscription fee, but by the same token it costs you exactly nothing to give them this stuff for free, so it's a wash.

It costs bandwidth, and these downloads cost points, and they do so because they compensate the developers in the case of games, and the companies who produce the movies, and the tv shows you can download, you can't expect Microsoft to foot the bill because you threw a touchdown in Madden 08.

Re:How to add value (1)

DaveCBio (659840) | more than 6 years ago | (#21618597)

M$ is not an organization of geniuses. If they were even reasonably intelligent, they would know that this isn't a viable way to try to scrape some revenue out of the enormous money pit that XBOX Live has become.


Wow, you are so clueless on this point that I don't even know where to start. Maybe try a little research before you make a completely incorrect statement like this. Or would that violate your personal code to bash MS regardless of the facts?

how are these arguments relevant? (1)

oneplus999 (907816) | more than 6 years ago | (#21604363)

as someone stated, if i am a silver user, i now have more incentive to upgrade to gold. the fact that it is a sleazy way to add 'value' to the premium account is irrelevant, if it gets more money. its not going to have an effect on software sales, because if a demo comes out well before the game is available, even if you lose a week you will still finish it before the game comes out. it only adds additional bragging rights to the gold members, and impatient silver members will upgrade. i already own an xbox, and its not decreasing the value of software i purchase, so it really can't cause a loss of profit off of silver members. here's what M$ is missing - dirty tactics like this may prevent people from buying an xbox at all. thats the only part of the market that they could lose sales from due to this. i might look at this as a pc gamer and decide to go with a ps3 now that it has been brought to my attention how underhanded these guys are.

Watch... (1, Flamebait)

darkhitman (939662) | more than 6 years ago | (#21604749)

This is simply the first step, you see, as Microsoft makes clear the order of things.

As their dominance and power spreads, they'll soon be installing two water fountains in public places: one for Silver accounts, and for Gold. The bathrooms and movie theaters, too, will be segregated based upon one's Xbox Live Status. And, if a Gold user wishes to sit on a full bus, a Silver user will be required to give up their seat for him.

Of course, it won't stop there: as the idea of "separate but unequal" facilities for paying and non-paying customers spreads, it will eventually reach the polls. Yes, Silver members will be required to pay a poll microtax in order to vote. However, to protect Gold members from this tax, a Grandfather Clause will be passed, which will let one vote if their Grandfather paid for his Xbox Live Account.

Although the Silver users will protest, both peacefully and violently, it will surely take decades of slow progress and bloody riots before the segregation is repealed. And, even then, Account Class-ism will pervade society at its deepest levels. We have a dark future to look forward to.

as bad as nagware (1)

db10 (740174) | more than 6 years ago | (#21609027)

.. oh here's a tasty little morsel hot off the grill, and it's available

OK! CLICK! CLICK! CLICK! ...to gold members! sign up now!

Value terminology (1)

jgoemat (565882) | more than 6 years ago | (#21609523)

Yes they are putting it in terms that show it in the beast light, but the terminology is valid. Think of it in reverse. Let's say you sign up for a year of X-Box Live Gold and pay in advance. Now let's say that Microsoft decides to give all the benefits of X-Box Live Gold to Silver members. Is that "Gold" membership now more valuable, less valuable, or the same value? You're getting all the same things you had before... Would a 12 month subscription be worth $49.99 to a new X-Box owner? What's the value when you could get everything for free?

Re:Value terminology (1)

DaveCBio (659840) | more than 6 years ago | (#21618561)

Anyone that has used Live to play games with friends for any length of time sees the value in it. You can cobble together a facsimile for PC that still misses out on the total integration that Live has. The PS3 and Wii dont' even come close as well.
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