Put your ear to the ground. Hear that groaning? That's the sound of thousands of Xbox Live users across the globe reacting to news that Microsoft will soon increase rates on all Gold memberships by as much as ten bucks. According to Microsoft, beginning in November, Xbox Live Gold packages will be bumped from $50 to $60 for a year, and $20 to $25 for three months. Monthly fees will increase from $8 to $10.
"Since launching Xbox Live in 2002 we have continually added more content and entertainment experiences for our members, while keeping the price the same," Larry Hryb, the director of programming at Xbox Live, wrote today. "We’re confident that when the new pricing takes effect, an Xbox Live Gold membership will continue to offer the best value in the industry."
Hryb, who blogs and plays under the tag Major Nelson, added that users could get a discount by signing up now for a year of Xbox Live service at the cost of $39.99. But predictably, even with the discount, not everyone is impressed with the rate hike. Some critics have pointed out that Sony already offers better rates on online gaming; others are incredulous that Microsoft would increase rates at all.
"Sometimes Microsoft gets it right, but sometimes it gets it head-smacking wrong," Matt Peckham of PC World wrote today. "Charging $100 for a wireless adapter would be the latter, while charging $300 for an souped-up Xbox 360 with integrated wireless may by contrast induce jaw-on-the-floor-itis. Charging $50 a year to access premium content is fine. Charging $50 a year to play online against other gamers isn't."
In recent months, Microsoft has put a good deal of marketing muscle behind the Kinect, a cordless, motion-sensing peripheral for the Xbox 360. Microsoft says it will charge $150 for the peripheral alone, and $299 for something called a Kinect Console Bundle, which includes the Xbox 360 4GB console and Kinect Adventures, a game exclusive to the Kinect.