Since the inception of the PlayStation Network, gamers have been questioning as to whether Microsoft’s stance on their subscriber-based online services would change, making them available for all audiences for free. If this report isn’t enough to reveal what their business plan is, then I don’t know what is. According to Praveen Rutnam’s (Microsoft Corporation: Group Product Planner) LinkedIn page, Microsoft has continued plans to develop strategies to “further monetize Xbox LIVE subscriber base.” What does this mean for the Xbox fanbase? Does this mean gamers could move from paying the now base $60 a year to perhaps $100 a year or maybe even $15 a month?
As a hardcore fan of the Xbox brand, this worries me, as this could potentially mean I and millions of other loyal subscribers could be forced into paying more money or getting out. What will this ‘further monetization’ mean for the company as a whole? With the dollar getting weaker still against other international currencies, Microsoft could see this as balancing finances that have started to dip below projected expectations. Or could this plan for the holiday season finally be valid competition to Sony’s PlayStation Plus?
Joystiq sticks straight to reporting the story without giving the fans the correct fanfare they deserve. Looking deeper into the LinkedIn profile, you see that Praveen discusses ‘key consumer insights’ about the industry as a whole. To ignore this factor other than just including it in a picture negates would could be the potential that I revealed before: true competition to Sony’s PlayStation Plus. As Sony doesn’t charge any money for their online service and doesn’t have an interface advertising for PlayStation Network, their way of getting fans to support their service was to have them pay a continuous $8 per month in order to get free games or early access to new downloadable titles.
What Mr. Rutnam is most likely meaning by having a ‘further monetized Xbox Live subscriber base’ is adding an additional service that wouldn’t contradict the current Xbox Live gold service but instead most likely compliment it with an additional monthly fee. Could Microsoft finally be getting their wits about them and finally start thanking their fanbase by being loyal customers? We’ll have to wait and see at the E3 press conference on June 4th at 10 a.m. PST.