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 Xbox price gouging

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PostSubject: Xbox price gouging   Sat Sep 08, 2012 12:46 am

Two days ago I helped a friend who is not very technical get her Xbox online so she could watch movies. She had heard from an ex that an Xbox Gold membership gives access to apps like Netflix and she wanted this set-up in her home. Indeed Xbox.com has a nice checklist of the bonuses a Gold membership provides over a free membership.

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Entertainment services like Netflix, Lovefilm and Sky are touted as reasons to buy a Gold subscription, however this is followed by an asterisk; the small print of course states that you aren’t paying for any content from these services, which each require additional paid memberships. I can see how this could easily mislead a lot of people. “So what do I actually get from buying a Gold account?” my friend asks. I tell her it’s mainly just to enable online play in games. Suddenly it doesn’t seem such a good deal.

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I show her the game marketplace and we try downloading some free demos, however just one was enough to nearly fill her 4GB of onboard storage (3GB usable). She asks me how to get more memory, and I tell her she must buy an official Xbox brand hard drive for any substantial space, because Microsoft artificially limit other brand storage devices to 16GB no matter what their capacity. This way you are forced to buy the overpriced official HDD.

We choose her online handle (Gamertag) and I tell her to decide carefully because if she wants to change it in future, she has to pay real money for the privilege. And you want new clothes for your avatar? That costs real money too. All of this is reminding me how excessively Microsoft monetise simple parts of the Xbox experience, things that I had tried to ignore.

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I guess I am surprised that enough people pay for this stuff that Microsoft can continue to do it. By comparison, Sony allows PlayStation 3 users to install any hard drives or solid-state drives with no limitations, and they don’t charge money for basic access to online gaming and entertainment apps. I have given Microsoft a lot of praise for the technologies and innovation they have brought to gaming over the years, but their business model really stings especially when you compare with the competition. Greed could one day be their undoing.
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