Paid online multiplayer on consoles
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.
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 without the need of a subscription fee.
“I don’t think it’s reasonable to make someone pay for a game and then prepare a network connection and charge a monthly fee.” -Satoru Iwata.
List of Consoles with Paid Online Multiplayer
Why This Practice Sucks
- 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 possibly means that free online multiplayer on consoles is gone forever.
- 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 out of the box.
- Since you've already paid $400 (or sometimes $300 or $500) for a console, $60 for a brand-new game, and $60 for a yearly subscription fee, you've spent $520 in total in order to play games with online multiplayer.
- 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).
- The idea of locking a basic feature like online multiplayer is just an excuse to gain more money and sales from subscription fees.
- 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.
- 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.
- You at least get free games when paying for online multiplayer.
- Some of the subscription services are pretty cheap, like how Nintendo Switch Online's yearly fee is $20.
- You can at least save half of your money by spending a 1-month plan or 3-month plan, both of which are pretty cheap, to play games online.
- With the exception of Xbox consoles, 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.
- The Ultimate tier of Xbox Game Pass is the best way to get online services on Xbox One and Series X/S, as not only do you have Xbox Live Gold but also xCloud and over 100+ games available for $15 a month.