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Paid online multiplayer on consoles

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NOTE: This page is about paid online on consoles, not subscription fees in general, so do not add anything related to the latter alone.

Thanks a lot, Microsoft.

After the original Xbox console was released in November 15, 2001, it introduced a subscription service called "Xbox Live Gold" a year later. This service is known for locking certain features such as online multiplayer, which Microsoft has been doing on every Xbox console since then.

In the eigth generation of consoles, the trend of console manufacturers charging for online began when Sony also started to lock online multiplayer behind PlayStation Plus on the PlayStation 4, a subscription fee similar to Xbox Live Gold, and so did Nintendo with Nintendo Switch Online being required to access online play on the Nintendo Switch, despite both of these companies having made it free in the past, and this trend has been continuing on every generation since then.

Because of this ongoing trend, free online multiplayer on consoles seemingly ended permanently, leaving only PC, handhelds, and even mobile gaming to have free online multiplayer without the need of a subscription fee. For mobile gaming, multiplayer is usually incorporated into the game itself, while the others require an add-on/standalone component for that.

List of Consoles with Paid Online Multiplayer

Why This Practice Sucks

  1. Consoles originally had free online multiplayer starting in 2000, the year where the Dreamcast was released, but ever since Microsoft entered the console wars a year later, they began charging players for online play starting with the original Xbox, and two generations later, both of their competitors, Sony and Nintendo, completely gave up free online to lock that feature behind subscription fees, which means that free online multiplayer on consoles is gone forever.
  2. This practice is unfair to console players, because they have to pay for a subscription fee in order to play games online, while gamers who play PC, handheld, and even mobile games have access to online play completely free of charge, and all it does is give features that PC, handheld, and mobile gamers get straight out of the box.
  3. Since you've already paid $400 (or sometimes $300 or $500) for a console, $60 for a brand-new game (for example), and $60 for a yearly subscription fee, you've spent $520 in total in order to play games with online multiplayer.
  4. Console manufacturers claim that they charge for online to improve their servers, and to provide more security, which is false considering that it's the third-party developers that run the servers, not the manufacturers (unless it's their own first-party games).
  5. The idea of locking a basic feature like online multiplayer is just an excuse to gain more money and sales from subscription fees.
  6. Paying for online multiplayer is expensive, because you have to pay $60 in order to access, unless you buy a 1-month or 3-month plan, which are usually $5 and $10 respectively.
  7. This practice is absolutely redundant, because you already pay for your internet provider, and now you have pay some extra cash to play games online on a console.
  8. If you're a developer making a console game with multiplayer, it has to be locked behind the paywall and there is no way to bypass it.
  9. Even physical games are locked behind this paywall, meaning that if you don't pay it, you won't be able to play the game at all, and you are left with a paperweight. What's worse, if these disc based online only games shut down (which they have before), the discs themselves become e-waste.
  10. Before 2013, games would force you to have an online pass for online games and if you bought a used game without one, you'd have to pay $10 to get a new one, this is on top of the paid online as well.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. When you pay for online, you get a lot of extra privileges and features as well, such as free games, cloud saving, and more.
  2. You can at least save half of your money by spending a 12 month plan or Nintendo's family pack plan, both of which are pretty cheap, to play games online.
  3. You don't need a subscription fee to play free-to-play games online, and even Microsoft has plans to eventually drop the paywall for free-to-play games online, following the backlash of trying to raise the price of Xbox Live Gold to $120.
  4. Starting in 2013, paid online removed online pass, as Sony prevented developers from adding it as they saw that users will have to pay more, and later on other developers did the same on Xbox One, Vita, 3DS and Wii U.



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