Should PSN and Xbox Live Be Free?

Would it be the worst thing in the world if PSN or Xbox Live were free?

You’ve already shelled out for a new console and expensive games, so why should you have to stick your hand back into your pocket for the privilege of playing people over the internet?

A necessity that you (or your parents, if you’re lucky), pay out for as well. I think it stinks that it’s something else that we are expected to pay out for or be left behind. If, you’re like me, and you’re lucky enough to have both a console and a PC then I wouldn’t dream of subscribing to PSN or Xbox Live as any game that I want to play I normally do through Steam or Origin without the fuss of monthly subscriptions or annual fees.

Gaming is an expensive habit. I remember saving up enough money to buy Super Smash Bros. on the N64 and that was £50 (they probably saw me coming), but the point is that not much has changed. Paying £40 to £50 is now the norm and if you want anything collectable or the special edition then prepare to look further behind the sofa than you have ever done before. So given we are only going to have to ‘tighten our belts’ in light of all things financial, would it be criminal if we asked Sony and Microsoft to make their services free?

The answer to that rather half-hearted plea would probably be a big fat no. The monthly fees are there to keep the servers running and ensure that everyone has the best online experience. Yet I pay for my internet and I find that playing games on Steam or Origin is smooth and problem free (unless you’re playing Battlefield 1 but that’s another story). Would it be something that maybe either company would consider? Like I said before, we already pay a lot for new releases and new consoles along with any of the other paraphernalia that comes with owning an Xbox or Playstation. Gaming as a habit is not cheap so in the grand scheme of things, foregoing the £5.99 a month or so it costs to be part of Xbox Live or PSN would help quite a lot of us out.

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By making it free, I think it would encourage even more people to get online and experience the joy and utter helplessness of playing other people over the internet. Whilst paying something like £5.99 doesn’t exactly exclude everyone, it certainly stops some.

Considering the benefits of actually subscribing to an online service, you get a lot of bang for your buck. Free games to download, online storage, and beta’s to be a part of. Personally, I’m not sold on the online subscription – Origin and more importantly Steam give you a lot of benefits without the cost.

So, should Xbox Live or PSN be free? Well, technically, they already are for a short period of time. You can trial either to see if it’s right for you and for what they’re asking that’s the same as a Netflix account and that pays for itself after the third season of In the Thick of It or Dexter. I personally think that it should all be free. Especially with the onset of VR, I believe that things will only get more expensive.

Since both Microsoft and Sony are not short of cash could they not at least give it a go? Make it free for three or six month period and see how many people sign up and get involved. It could be worse and it could get even more people involved in console gaming. Both Microsoft and Sony have a horde of followers and the number people going out and buying consoles is only going to increase.

So keep it simple, make it free, encourage more people to get involved and then if people want extra content such as beta exclusives, pre-release content or something similar then you can charge them a fee, but to just play people over the internet then I don’t think we should be charged for that. If it doesn’t work then I’ll just get back in my box and be quiet.

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