Xbox, The Living Room, And The Live Gold Paywall

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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Xbox, The Living Room, And The Live Gold Paywall

Recently, some new reports emerged talking about the potential new role being filled by the new Xbox, still expected by many to make an appearance at a live event this May. But looking at the new reports leaves just one thought going in the back of my mind: what about that paywall?

There are a lot of terrific services currently found in Xbox Live. Between an array of apps for music, for video, for social connection and several others, there's a lot of very useful material here. It's one of the few places that YouTube can be had outside of a PC. That's very welcome, especially for those who want to use their Xbox 360 for more than just gaming.

Interestingly, that's the exact same stance that Microsoft looks to be taking, especially in terms of allowing users to use their Xbox consoles for a full living room treatment. But trying to use these services--even YouTube--without an Xbox Live Gold membership cuts the user short, and that got me wondering, just how far can Microsoft get with the "take over the living room" plan if that plan involves paywalls like this?

On the one hand, there's every possibility that this could work. The thing about it is that it would be all about value. If Microsoft could bring in unique content or a particularly useful control scheme or just more content than anyone else, it would make shelling out for the $9.99 a month (other pricing plans are available) Xbox Live Gold account worthwhile.

Without that added impetus, however, Microsoft is going to be hard pressed to realize its dreams of living room domination. Sure, Microsoft will have the multiplayer element to help out, but the core gaming market that would be most likely to appreciate such gaming may not be enough to make Microsoft a dominant living room force. Casual gamers--which have been found to make up a larger proportion of the total gaming whole--aren't so likely to get in on Xbox Live Gold to take advantage of the entertainment offerings, especially when so many of them can be had on a PC.

This is still largely speculative--after all, Xbox Live Gold is certainly pulling its share of gamers in right now--and many answers will be made available when the system finally gets its big debut. But there are certainly concerns to be addressed here, and how Microsoft addresses them may well prove to be the beginning of the end of the console wars, and not in favor of Microsoft.
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