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Microsoft announce price hike for Live Gold. Update:Reversed


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They've done their hardest to shake the anti-consumer label since Phil Spencer took over and they've pissed it all away in a day. There's no 4D chess happening here. They obviously thought that they'd get away with it because of the grandfathered pricing.

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I don't understand it at all. As I said earlier, you don't double the price of your subscription service without expecting some kind of backlash. Netflix and Spotify would never dare double the price out of nowhere. (Netflix are very close to having already doubled the price of some of their packages over the past decade, which is the same increase MS were planning, but Netflix did it incrementally over that period. You can't just do it all at once).

 

I can only think that a) They expected a backlash but were took aback by how big the backlash was and decided it wasn't worth it at the start of a new generation b) there was internal conflict over it to begin with and the backlash validated those against it, hence the speed of the backtrack c) it's some weird marketing stunt where there is an overall net positive to the consumer but they now look out of touch.

 

I can't see it being a deliberate stunt because it's the same issue they had at the XB1 launch. They walked everything back but it took a long time before people trusted them because the assumption was they were just biding their time to implement all their policies again. So at least some people internally are massively out of touch because this was always going to be a shitshow. 

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How bizarre. I’m happy they’ve reversed this decision, but the fact that they did about face in a matter of hours sort of makes it worse. 
 

 

I’ve been very happy with my Series S, but this is a reminder of how we’re at the whims of platform holders, especially if you have an all digital console and are relying on Game Pass. 

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14 minutes ago, footle said:

Gut feel is “cheap gold to gamepass” conversion, particularly for people who’ve already done it before, isn’t long for this world.

 

People will complain about this too but it will be nowhere near as vocal because deep down everyone knows that 3-4 pounds a month for both gold and Gamepass using this trick was never going to be sustainable. It's clearly a bit of an unintended loophole for people to stack their accounts with 3 years of cheap gold to convert to GPU that MS just let run for a bit because it was so popular.

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Seems to be a wider issue here that companies create subscription based services that are great value for money, happy that instead of achieving great profits they are earning market dominance instead. Then they increase the prices and also drop the quality.  Gamepass is amazing right now because it has unsustainable cheap pricing and loads of content. That won't last.

 

You can see how Netflix used to be £5 a month for the service and had loads of great movies. Now, as well as many incremental price increases they also charge extra for HD, more screens, 4k etc and it's about to become £15 a month for the top package. Meanwhile there's less and less movies you've heard of, more 'netflix originals' etc. But the brand is so established that I pay for it but don't watch it nearly as much as I did. Their offering was too good to last but they have their customer base now.

 

Someone earlier mentioned game and video rental and this raises a good point.  I would probably have spent a tenner a month at Blockbuster back in the day, so Netflix and Gamepass do represent good value in that comparison. But it misses one vital point which is that, by renting at Blockbuster you had access to everything. You could spend a tenner, or twenty quid a month and see all the films you wanted and play all the games. Today that's been replaced by streaming so if I want to watch the Mandalorian I need to get Disney Plus. And then I need a Sky package for the sport. And BT for the rest of the sport. Then I can't cancel Netflix because Better Call Saul is back soon, and I need Amazon Prime for that other series and Britbox for Spitting Image and HBO Max for John Oliver etc. I'm paying for genuinely good value services but not interested in 99% of it. And everyone's getting in on the act so to be able to watch everything of interest you can spend hundreds of pounds on twenty different streaming services plus your Sky package.  

 

It just gets crazy and most people have a finite amount of money to spend.  Something has to give and to me I have to get over the fear of missing out.  So no, I haven't seen Game of Thrones and I probably won't see it because I've chosen Netflix and cancelled all the others. And that's fine. 

 

And with gaming, it seems crazy to make you pay for multiplayer.  Every console generation in the past has me buying all the systems.  But today there's too much content, not enough hours in the day to play it all, so next gen I will buy just one console and stick to that.  So if one offers free online play, that's the one I will go for because I don't have the money to add another subscription service to the pile. 

 

And all the talk of "who pays for the servers" is a distraction.  We are talking about Sony, Microsoft, EA, Rockstar etc.  They make billions from the sales of the games.  There's no justifiable reason to charge people to play GTA Online, and the PC proves it's possible.  Sony and Microsoft started to charge monthly fees for online because they knew they could.  Sony gave it free on PS3 didn't they? Only started charging for it when they saw Microsoft doing it.

 

So I'm currently in the market for my next console.  If Microsoft charge a monthly subscription and Sony don't, thats the decision made. But that won't happen, so online subscriptions are causing all the console manufactures my business (bar one).

 

 

 

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The only way this price hike makes sense to me is if it was designed to force people into Ultimate. If the issue is the Gold to Ultimate gravy train, then the obvious solution is to just reduce the rate at which it converts (as it does if you try to add Gold to an existing Ultimate sub). Just say the offer is ending and after a certain date, 2 months of live will convert to 1 month of Ultimate. 
 

 

Maybe they’re scared of finding themselves in a situation where people are disincentivized from upgrading if the length of their sub will be reduced. 

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Wow, so great of Microsoft to Listen To The Community and realize that the fans actually DIDN’T want this, what a nice mega corporation. 
 

Also love the initial reaction of some people here. “Omg what a dick move from MS! Quick, let’s pay them for years in advance immediately. That’ll teach em!”

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Just to add, Spotify all but killed off music piracy because their service is good and they have everything on there.  But for movies and games you accept you can't have everything, and that's why I'm (a) only buying one next gen system and (b) noticing how much people are using dodgy streaming sites for movies again. I'm not advocating piracy but surely the industry can see that 20 different streaming services doesn't work for most people.

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1 minute ago, Grobbelboy said:

Also love the initial reaction of some people here. “Omg what a dick move! Quick, let’s pay them for years in advance immediately. That’ll teach em!”

 

If you have just spent a load of money on a Series console and are heavily invested in the MS ecosystem it's pretty easy to see why some people would stack up on cheap subs while they still could. No-one expected a reversal within half a day.

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36 minutes ago, Majora said:

 

People will complain about this too but it will be nowhere near as vocal because deep down everyone knows that 3-4 pounds a month for both gold and Gamepass using this trick was never going to be sustainable. It's clearly a bit of an unintended loophole for people to stack their accounts with 3 years of cheap gold to convert to GPU that MS just let run for a bit because it was so popular.


Microsoft were actively promoting it, so it couldn’t have been that unintended.

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47 minutes ago, Majora said:

there was internal conflict over it to begin with and the backlash validated those against it, hence the speed of the backtrack

I came in to post exactly this as my theory. I imagine a group within the Xbox team who has been hard at work to establish Phil as everyone's friendly uncle and Xbox as the consumer friendly platform with all kinds of feel good initiatives, is incredibly frustrated and saying we told you so to the people who wanted to increase the earnings of the Xbox subs segment significantly. All that hard work establishing that image, badly needed at the start of a generation without a big first party release.

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There’s some hilarious mental gymnastics going on in some other forums to rationalise how cuddly Uncle (urrrrgh) Phil, bears no responsibility for this and it was somehow done against his will when he’s Head of the entire MS Gaming Division

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8 minutes ago, Harsin said:

There’s some hilarious mental gymnastics going on in some other forums to rationalise how cuddly Uncle (urrrrgh) Phil, bears no responsibility for this and it was somehow done against his will when he’s Head of the entire MS Gaming Division

He so cuddly though.

 

Thing is, even if they quickly realized their mistake vis a vis their tactic of building a consumer friendly image - I wonder if simply cancelling the price increase is enough to go back to "Uncle Phil is our lovable friend and yours and everyones" type messaging. They've shown their hand, no matter what they say and do now their audience knows that at some point they want to double the price of Gold and god knows what else they're planning.

 

Maybe (and this is me doing mental gymnastics) a positive outcome of this whole mess could be them realizing that the only way to damage control this, is to make online free for everyone and cancel the whole gold sub. Everyone who has Gold left, gets put on Game Pass for the same amount of time. One can hope.

 

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  • bear changed the title to Microsoft announce price hike for Live Gold. Update:Reversed
27 minutes ago, Super Craig said:


Microsoft were actively promoting it, so it couldn’t have been that unintended.

 

They promote converting your existing gold/Gamepass subs to GPU for a £1, I'm not sure they expected people en masse to buy 3 years of cheap gold upfront, convert to GPU for £1, then when that ran out buy another 3 years of cheap gold and convert it to GPU again (this time the conversion is £10.99 I think).

 

Microsoft want as many people on GPU as possible but ultimately they want you paying £10.99 a month not £3 a month. They need to phase it out somehow either by getting rid of the 1:1 conversion (at the very least after people have used it once) or upping the price of Gold. I suspect they chose the latter and it backfired so I personally don't think the 1:1 conversion will be long for this world. They'll wait a while after this palaver though.

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I don't think this has much to do with 'gamers' specifically, any company would get a load of what the fuck reactions and huge consumer backlash if they decided to double the price of their offering overnight. Even juggernauts like Netflix and Spotify, let alone the console manufacturer who is currently number three in a three horse race and had been leaning heavily on look how customer friendly thry are to try and make up ground up until that point.

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Regardless of the reasons for this u-turn, what MS have done, inadvertently, is jump start the debate about why we should have to pay for online in the first place, and what a rip off it is. 
 

Let’s be honest no one charged for online play until Xbox Live Gold back in 2002, and Sony didn’t charge for it until the PS4 in 2013. Nintendo held out until 2018. So for a good 10 or 11 years MS were the only company that required you to pay a subscription to use their online service. And on PC it is still entirely free, including Xbox Live Gold, and on mobile it’s free, it’s even free on Stadia I believe. It’s a rip off plain and simple. Expecting people to pay extra on top of the £50 (and upwards) they’ve already paid in order to make the game functional is pretty disgusting. 
 

What would have been forward thinking is if MS did away with it at this point - it would massively increase their market share and their position as a consumer friendly platform holder, and they would still have a value added subscription with Gamepass, in fact it would also do more to highlight just what that service is. 

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2 minutes ago, HarryBizzle said:

I find it incredible that nobody internally thought to suggest that they didn't need to make a giant unforced error less than 6 months into a new generation.


Mind you, apparently the reaction to that dismal Halo trailer took them completely by surprise as well.


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5 minutes ago, HarryBizzle said:

I find it incredible that nobody internally thought to suggest that they didn't need to make a giant, unforced error less than 6 months into a new generation.

 

I'm sure some people probably were against it but got overruled or ignored. 

 

In the end, it's a totally unnecessary unforced error but they backtracked incredibly quickly and in fact improved the offering overall, finally, so I don't see it having the same lasting impact as the XB1 launch. In a couple of weeks everyone will have just moved on.

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