TigusVidiks / Member

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Considerations on the rumored changes in the Live service

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I've been earing in these last couple of weeks, to all the ranter that came up about the possibility of Microsoft discarding the Microsoft Points (MP) system and turn all the transactions to money only. I have to admit I was somewhat surprised to see so many people supporting the idea, but after reading some of their explanations I can understand why. The most logical to me, is the fact that you always end up with leftovers of Points whenever you buy something, since the amount you can buy to begin with is always diferent from the prices of any given item in the marketplace. So, you end up either spending those leftovers in something you don't need, or in alternative you will leave then pilling in your account until the next time you need to buy something.

But I have to ask: Is it that terrible to have 40 MP in your account that you can't spend? I mean, if you actually care enough about the issue, that means you buy items in the marketplace. And if you do, all those small amoutns of MP that remain in the end of each transaction, will add to a interesting amount after 4 or 5 buys (40 x 5 = 200 MP) , so unless you are thinking of making a single buy on a rare ocasion and then never again use the marketplace, those are Points you will always put to good use as long as your not a compulsive spender.

Even so, I reckon the system isn't perfect, and I understand when people claim that the whole thing is just a way for Microsoft to make you spend more money that you actually wanted.

However, let's also look at the other side. The MP system apeared mostly by consumers pressure, since when the online transactions/ marketplace concept was put in place, the security of those transactions was a real concern for many, who then demanded an alternative means to pay that didn't involve releasing your credit card info. And that's the main concern I still have right now and a shared concern with many European users no US/UK.

Will there be any alternative to those people who don't want to add their credit card info into their account? let me just remind you that there's still no localized suport from Microsoft to deal with questions regarding the credit card. If you don't live in the States or the UK, and for any reason want to remove your credit card info from your Live account, your ONLY option is to go trough the US Live suport to get them to do it. If you don't speak the language, to bad.

This, together with the diference in the provided service in Live (see previous blog entry), depending on the country your in, kind of looks like Microsoft his somehow turning itself back into US and UK as their only relevant income sources.

Microsoft - Xbox360 and the European Market

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PART 1

Hi everyone.

Here's the thing: I play games for a long time now, had all the hypest consoles in each generation,and I will always play games. As a consumer, obviously I try to find the best deal for my personal taste.

When Sony's Playstation came out in the 90's, it was a sort of a revolution. For the first time, gaming was really brought to main stream. I had a 48k, a 128+, a Commodore Amiga, a Mega Drive, a Sega Saturn,and a Game gear before that, but for the first time, it wasn't only a small percentage of my friends who wanted it, it was all of them!

Naturaly, when the PS2 came out, I was first in line to get one,despite the price it had. And we all have to admit, PS2 was a "monster".

A few years later, Microsoft released their first Xbox, providing direct competition to Sony Playstation for the first time. Now there was a new player in town, and it was one to keep an eye on. The sheer size and expertise of Microsoft forced everyone to Turn their head and take a long look at it. In the last few years of the PS2/Xbox, Microsoft managed to overtake Sony's dominant position in the US consoles market, but in Europe, where I live(Portugal), it wasn't quite the same. Because despite everyone admiting more or less easily that the Xbox console itselfwas somewhat better than PS2, with obvious graphic improvments as the most visible part, Sony still had a dominant position over the market. What ever retailer shop you walked in, had 5 times more space dedicated to PS2 than it had to Xbox.Games were less expensive , promotions more frequent, and on top of that, you simply could find more games, cheaper and easier, for PS2. And since most of everyone's friends had a PS2, why would you buy a Xbox? That way we could also trade games with our friends.

Finally, the next generation was announced. I got myself thinking that, this time, Microsoft had all the time in the world to make things right, and possibly get the dominat position everywhere.What do you think hapend in this generation?

Part 2 -

Well, for the most part, the first 2 years were glorious for Xbox360 everywhere. They had the upper hand, since Sony was late with their release of PS3 and Nintendo was not on the same league. In Continental Europe, many people decided to start buying the Xbox, even Sony's PS2 usual clients. It was the next generation after all, and the only one in the market.

Even more decided to join, when the PR campaign from Microsoft started at full speed across Europe. I remember watching an interview with the Microsoft Head of Operations in Europe, where he talked about what they were planning for Xbox360 in a near future, and UAUU!! That's all I could think! He was talking about having several top developers as exclusive deals( Bioware, Bungie, etc), about a ton of services that they were goin to implement, like a online music store for Live, where you could buy music, and music videos, and even get some for free, with a gold account. He was talking about having a video store, with streaming 1st tier films and TV series to watch in you box, trough Live, he was even talking about broadcasting live transmissions of the most important sport events in the world, and eventually launch a TV service down the line. He won me over , when the reporter asked him if all those services were going to be implemented in Europe, or only the US. His answer was , that without a doubt, all of that would be coming to Europe too, because it was part of their globalization strategy, and if they wanted to win over the European market, they would have to able to show people what the Xbox360 with Live was capable of.And he kept going, when the reporter asked him about game releases and prices, he stated that Microsoft was going to release their games ata price impossible to match, because they wanted to win the market in the long run, even if it meant having to make less money in the begining, they were prepared for it.

You get the idea. I was happy to hear all this, and if I had decided to buy a Xbox before that, I know a lot of people who decided to buy it, after hearing those news. Ten year after all that, how do you think things have evolved since then?

Part 3
Well, answering the question above, and puting it simple, they simply have not. Despite all the promotion and all the promisses Microsoft made, the truth is, the European market is considered like second rate to Microsoft. We pay more money, to get lesscontent, services and quality than the american user. Now, don't get me wrong, I don't expect Xbox Live in europe to provide exactly the same as in the US, andat the exact same prices, after all Microsoft is a US company. But when they claim that the objective is to take on Sony and win over europe, they have to be able to do a lot better. As it is, it seems they gave up on that intent. There is no music store (Zunes ? is it? ) , no video store ( unless you count with a few indie releases, or a few free interviews/ prsentations on the major game shows like E3 and gamescon), no movies, tv series or whatever, and certainly no live sports. But aGold account still costs 60 euros a year or 20 euros for 3 months. Games are generaly more expensive than Sony's, It's common to see the exact same game drop to half the cost 4 or 5 months after release, while in the Xbox, remains at release price. Old games sold as new are never less than 30.99 euros. While the competion will have tons of them at 19.99 euros. So, if you are an european user, what reason do you have to choose the Xbox 360 instead of the PS3 ? Almost none, I reckon. Unless you are nuts for some Microsoft exclusive, or you fear the PS3 recent security issues, actualy you got no reasons at all. At least until the next generation comes out, and we get back at hearing a ton of promisses never fullfilled all over again.