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Microsoft announce price hike for Live Gold. Update:Reversed


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Yeah, not the best time to announce something like that considering the current climate in terms of console "wars" and the fact people have less money to throw around anyway, but then again, considering they couldn't even get their system seller game out for launch, I do not think they really care that much anyway.

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36 minutes ago, dumpster said:

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.


I've had a look back just to make sure if there was any other people mentioning rental, so apologies if I'm missing anything - but I was fairly comprehensive about the issue of a la carte subscription services:
 

9 hours ago, Siri said:

And I'm someone who's fully on board with game pass - 20 years a go as a kid, I'd happily go to the indie game shop every Friday after school, pick up a game or two to rent for £3-5 a pop over a weekend and have a grand old time.  £10.99 a month for 100+ games just sounds like I'm doing the robbery, but that feeling won't stay if a similar price hike occurs - mainly because it's also vying for every other monthly sub I've got, and something will have to give in order to maintain my outgoings.


Also, fuck Blockbuster. That shit was a fiver for the weekend if you wanted the latest thing, regardless of it being a film or videogame. Get your VHS tapes from the corner shop like everyone else :ph34r:

But I guess that's the thing, isn't it? There isn't a grim back room that smelt a bit funny for cut-price entertainment any more - everyone's selling direct, so when something has to give, I'm directly not giving them money. I mean, you can qualify the smelly cut-price entertainment as CEX nationwide, but that's 100% ownership of the product.
 

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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 Today that's been replaced by streaming so if I want to watch the Mandalorian I need to get Disney Plus.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.  


But... there's nothing stopping you to cancel. All these services boldened are not under a long-term contract like Sky. There is no need to watch Spitting Image day one - it's well within anyone's power to bin a service and re-apply when there's a suitable amount of things to consume on a singular service. I do it all the time:
 

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Although for my own case use for video streaming subs, what ends up happening is that you just cancel the moment you subscribe and just run for a single month, and rotate every month depending on what you want to play.


Primarily, this mindset was from I had a problem with expenditure (namely, buying a new car after someone drove into my old one), first thing I did was drop pretty much everything that's non-essential to me - so all the Pro Wrestling VOD sites, Netflix, Spotify Premium and so on - all got the axe. The only thing I kept on was Amazon Prime, primarily because it was the only sub that covered multiple aspects of my entertainment - I got games with it, I got films and TV shows with it, I got music with it, and I got all my internet shopping deliveries paid for. Eventually, when I started having spare money again, I'd drop a month on X website and immediately cancel the service the same day, and then start binging all the stuff I wanted to binge.

Hell, I did it just to see how much of a shitshow Anthem was, via EA Play or whatever the fuck it was back then. Played Titanfall 2 and Mirror's Edge Catalyst the week before it dropped so I can pre-load, Played it solid for a week, dropped the service like a rock. That tenner was, ultimately, well spent in comparison to a blockbuster five quid weekender. At least, to someone who's binned off most films and television outside of what's on terrestrial and Amazon (because it's, well, there).

The key here is having a service that really does provide value to the customer - Spitting Image and Anthem doesn't do that as singular products on a single service, and everyone should be encouraged to kick companies directly to the curb once their time is done. But a rotating library of 100 games and a pledge for any first party games to show up, including their roadmap of the 10 or so flagship games that they've flogged at E3 or whatever, is appealing at a tenner a month. It's worth keeping on because there's always something that justifies the tenner every month, instead of 'well, if you don't pay, you don't get it'. 

Which brings us back to this debacle from Microsoft - I'd love to be a fly on the wall at Redmond right now, because it's pretty clear there's someone on the board, if not multiple, who's tone deaf enough during a pandemic that they're willing to raise the floor of subscriptions instead of just showing people the value of their service. The immediate backtrack and firefighting reflects that - I'd imagine half of the staff under X-Box were warned to prepare some Plan B article for the moment the shit hit the fan.

It's welcome to see, but it's not worth a standing ovation to celebrate the fact that they are now on par with their console competitor's base functionality - let alone the PC market where that core functionality costs nothing outside a portion of your money going to someone who set up the framework to buy it in the first place.

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6 hours ago, Grobbelboy said:

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!”

Well, if you have been informed that something will cost £86 per annum imminently but you can get it for £39 whilst stocks last, what else would you expect people to do?  The 3 year stack and Ultimate conversion is a no brainer regardless for those that have not yet done it. It was simply highlighting the point now was a good time to do it. Even with the reversal, it still is!

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As someone else mentioned the core issue now is that they’ve revealed they have no intent of dropping charging for multiplayer and instead want to charge more for it (with likely incremental changes). All that speculation from dropping the 12 month is gone. Any perceived (incorrectly) goodwill from maybe it’s going is gone. They want to charge people for that expect to.

 

The whole thing is odd. I’d love to be in the meetings deciding to reverse the decision. Like it must be a bunch of people at some proper low. Knowing that they’re going to undo some thing they probably spent month discussing, knowing they’d get backlash but somehow not being tough enough to actually follow through. And a few people on there laughing saying they fucking told you so.

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This is all a bit strange.

 

It’s obviously a huge deal to do something like this, so it must have been in discussion for months, and then they reverse almost immediately?


It makes me suspect senior management at Microsoft have overruled it.

 

The original move to put up prices doesn’t make a lot of sense long-term either. They can make Game Pass good enough value that people naturally move over without having to force the issue. Live Gold makes them a boatload of money at the current prices anyway. It also makes people rightly suspicious that they will jack up subscription prices over time when they need really people to buy into the concept of subscriptions.

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Just now, Halo said:

This is all a bit strange.

 

It’s obviously a huge deal to do something like this, so it must have been in discussion, for months, and then they reverse almost immediately?


It makes me suspect senior management at Microsoft have overruled it.

 

The original move to put up prices doesn’t make a lot of sense long-term either. They can make Game Pass good enough value that people naturally move over without having to force the issue. Live Gold makes them a boatload of money at the current prices anyway. It also makes people rightly suspicious that they will jack up subscription prices over time when they need really people to buy into the concept of subscriptions.

I would guess they want people to move over to GPU at their prices, so still being able to upgrade at £1 from Gold, but not at £3 a month.

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It’s weird but I wasn’t expecting so much anger about the reversal itself on here. 
 

I’m rolling my eyes a lot but whatever. 
 

Massive mega corporations make really stupid decisions sometimes. 

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35 minutes ago, Yiggy said:

It’s weird but I wasn’t expecting so much anger about the reversal itself on here. 


Odd take. People aren't angry about the reversal, they're annoyed at them doing it in the first place and necessitating a clean up of what was incredibly obviously a move that would go down about as well as Gary Glitter at a playground. In this case it felt extra twattish to make a move like this when everyone is locked down due to a pandemic and looking for diversions  from the current horror we're living through (see also Sony charging £70 for games all of a sudden).

 

I think stuff like this serves as a useful reminder to the people on the internet who post gifs of Kaz Hirai as Antonio Banderas or Phil Spencer as Arnie in Commando, that these megacorps (be they MS, Sony, Nintendo or Apple) aren't your friends or even your chosen sports team.

 

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Idiotic move by Microsoft in the first place, one of those things that you just can't understand how it made it onto the drawing board, never mind out of the room. 

 

But then again, incompetence from powerful people and idiotic conspiracy theories from everyone else seems to be fairly typical lately. 

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The whole affair has somewhat dented the idea that GamePass and subscription services in general are the set in stone destiny of gaming.
 

Firstly because we just got given the cleverest indicator yet that lots and lots of players don’t want to pay $180 year for a subscription service even if it does have hundreds of games, because it doesn’t have the two to three FIFA/CoDs into which they actually put their limited time. 


And secondly, because the move itself points towards a concern within Microsoft itself about the model. I think that in addition to the £1 Gold top up potentially being much more costly than anticipated, it’s also made it difficult for Microsoft to accurately gauge demand or behaviours around GPU.
 

Like, if a huge chunk of the Game Pass subscriber base is signed up for years for virtually nothing, how can they properly model how many users are actually willing to pay the ‘actual’ 15 quid per month GPU price? If those numbers aren’t where they were expected to be that would explain this episode of clunky windmilling by the bean counters.

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30 minutes ago, Harsin said:


Odd take. People aren't angry about the reversal, they're annoyed at them doing it in the first place and necessitating a clean up of what was incredibly obviously a move that would go down about as well as Gary Glitter at a playground. In this case it felt extra twattish to make a move like this when everyone is locked down due to a pandemic and looking for diversions  from the current horror we're living through (see also Sony charging £70 for games all of a sudden).

 

I think stuff like this serves as a useful reminder to the people on the internet who post gifs of Kaz Hirai as Antonio Banderas or Phil Spencer as Arnie in Commando, that these megacorps (be they MS, Sony, Nintendo or Apple) aren't your friends or even your chosen sports team.

 

 

Yeah, and a reversal does not mean a reversal. It'll still be their broad statregy.

 

This means they've realised they need to reach their goals via more subtle means.  Maybe that's incremental upgrades in gold price, maybe it's elsewhere, it'll be a target £ per user target.

 

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2 hours ago, Harsin said:

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.

I was going for a tongue in cheek comment but didn't want to over egg it just in case people thought I was defending some of the godawful behaviour we have seen over the last few years.*

 

 Setting aside the reaction from customers I wonder how the likes of EA, Epic and Activision reacted to the original plan. They can't have been happy about the idea that their big free to play games were still going to be locked behind the Gold paywall. The fact Microsoft are getting rid of that barrier would seem to indicate that. 

 

*Typing that made got me curious about how long it's been since the horribleness around Anita Sarkesians Kickstarter. Wikipedia says 2012, christ I'm old. 

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The bit I didn’t get was how a £1/$1 month increase somehow led to a doubling of cost. A £1/increase, £6 on the six month sub would have basically gone without notice outside of some ftp moaning.

 

but it turns out they simultaneously dropped the discount for purchasing multiple months at once, like idiots.

 

(eg, instead of saving £12 for buying a six month card, you’d save £4.50 on the higher price.)

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Somewhere in Microsoft's gaming division there is a leader that doesn't know anything and staff that won't tell them (or aren't listened to.)

 

Given the rapid U-turn (and more than a U-turn, given the F2P change - is there word for more than a 180? I guess it's a reflex) I don't understand how the decision got made in the first place. It's sort of like how they apparently thought an in-depth showcase of Halo was a good idea, then instantly delayed it a year when outside people realised for them that it wasn't ready.

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Less than £4 a month really is a stupidly low price for GPU, but really they should make Gold free if the upgrade path is too cheap. £80 a year is still a fantastic price, especially considering the Series S was only £250, but Gold for £80 a year is shite.

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4 hours ago, dumpster said:

Just to add, Spotify all but killed off music piracy because their service is good and they have everything on there.

 

Obviously there are far bigger issues with Spotify - particularly their rate of compensation to artists,* to the point that for any smaller bands piracy would be about as helpful to them as listening to them on Spotify alone - but it rubs me the wrong way when I see the suggestion that Spotify has 'everything', when it routinely misses even releases from relatively big artists if they're a bit old or foreign (e.g. no Night Time by Killing Joke, no War Head by Ryuichi Sakamoto), and becomes extremely scattershot if you're looking for any non-English music outside of the absolute mainstream.

 

 

*to give an example, my cousins' band get ~360,000 listeners a month, with a couple of 1,000,000+ listener songs. Pretty decent going, particularly for a French band who sing in French, and thus have little chance of making a meaningful audience of (the famously-resistsant to foreign language) anglophone fans! Except, all that means is that they're currently getting around £500 a month from Spotify, and that's before splitting it; Spotify is, at best, a supplemental income, and not a particularly generous one at that. And if it puts people off of buying CDs/digital albums, there's a risk it even becomes worse than supplemental. What I'm saying is: if you like a band and you listen to them on Spotify, consider buying their music separately!

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I don't think MS has doubts about the model, this is just a revenue push. There were meetings and everyone agreed that making Xbox Live more expensive so people would go for Gamepass was a capital idea. They'd have got away with a small increase but got greedy. 

 

They'll have another go. My guess is they'll wind up rebrabding Gomd into Gamepass totally and rejig the tiers somewhat. 

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Good to see they've reversed the decision and gone further to make F2P titles truly F2P, that's been a long time coming.

 

We'll probably never know what went on behind the scenes, but I doubt this was done "on purpose" for PR or anything. In the time I spent working for large corporations one of the most impressive things to me was the lack of joined-up thinking, with different parts of the business constantly wanting and doing different things, often counterproductively.

 

A lot of this looks to me like an internal disagreement played out publicly. Game Pass *is* a ridiculously generous program by game industry standards and there will be pressure internally to increase pricing or force conversions, but Xbox's public messaging has very much been that they're happy to grow things naturally by offering a good service at a good price. Given the quick turnaround it looks like one side pretty conclusively won this round and took the opportunity to make F2P free in the process, but it certainly feels like a net loss for Xbox on the PR front.

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13 minutes ago, therearerules said:

Less than £4 a month really is a stupidly low price for GPU, but really they should make Gold free if the upgrade path is too cheap. £80 a year is still a fantastic price, especially considering the Series S was only £250, but Gold for £80 a year is shite.

 

Yeah, if you think the upgrade path is too cheap, then.. just get rid of the upgrade path. Nobody would mourn the loss of Live Gold, providing that when you pick up a game you can play everything a game offers at the time.

 

Make online play free as long as you're playing on their platform and the developer is giving a cut either from retail or f2p micro, Game Pass the base price (slap in Games With Gold if you want instead of canning it) for about 7-10 quid on either PC/Console/XCloud, and then Ultimate is the fancy do-all thing you'd pay a full £10-15 quid for - a saving against having two or three services running at the same time. Raise it by a quid every year to match inflation or whatever the fuck reasoning (keep XCloud the same every other increase because nearly everyone has a smartphone).

 

But higher-ups want to have their cake and eat it in regards to existing live gold subscriptions, which leads to clusterfuck PR like what just transpired.

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14 minutes ago, Uncle Mike said:

Given the rapid U-turn (and more than a U-turn, given the F2P change - is there word for more than a 180? I guess it's a reflex)


I’d say Overswing. 
 

To me it appears like this was probably just the next move in a sequence of events which goes: 1. Announce all games coming to all Xbox platforms. 2. Launch Series S and X with Halo Infinite as a mega killer app. 3. Bring EA into GPU. 4. Increase price of Gold to push people to GPU (to pay towards the Zenimax purchase). 

 

On the face of it it seems like a reasonable strategy, but obviously it hasn’t gone quite the way they would like, and it looks like (from the outside) demand for PS5 is outstripping Series X. So for new players who aren’t already in the ecosystem, that move would put them at a serious disadvantage to Sony when it comes to attracting the Fortnite crowd. Pleasantly surprised they’ve reacted so quickly, but it smells like left hand not talking to the right to change their strategy when the situation changes. 

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3 hours ago, Majora said:

 

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.


I don’t think they specifically promote stacking 3 years of gold and converting for £1, it reads like get a month of it for £1 and I only knew about it because it was talked about in here and podcasts - just look at the series x thread around launch and it was clear even us gamers didn’t really know about it.

 

In a round about way I’m just wondering how many people just pay monthly for gamepass, most people I know outside the forum do inc PC players - all have been surprised you can cheat the system and load up years worth of gpu for very little outlay.

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