On my XBL friends list, I have a friend that's financially restricted at the moment; a guy whose paid for Netflix, Hulu, his rent and such but needs a week to play "catch up" in this craptacular economy. Granted, I can't say I'm able to relate; because I can't. (But I do wonder how he's unable to pay for XBL if he paid for Netflix, Hulu etc)
Being curious about "what it meant to not have Xbox Live Gold membership", I purposely went to XBOXDOTCOM and took my next payment option off "automatic" in which Xbox will give you details on what happens if you do not pay for Xbox Live. (which is common knowledge to most, except to myself and others who don't own a 360)
XBL essentially strips all online gaming capabilies whilst limiting subscription based services; period. I'm not even sure about retaining the ability to download demos. In my honest opinion, this would make PSN's free service a service with better value being that without PS plus, I'm still able to watch Hulu Plus and Netflix, download demos, apply themes, play online (for now) and so on.
For the past 7 years on XBL, I've never been offered a free game with the exception of Aegis Wing, which is the only Microsoft game that's free of charge with full offline. (The other games are 8 bit indie games that have nothing to do with Microsoft) Meanwhile, PSN gives more reason to hop onto it's premium service OR KEEP IT'S FREE SERVICE without stripping down subscription based services and demos. With PS plus, you get free games, demos that aren't offered on XBL (such as Moh Warfighter, Dynasty Warriors 7 etc), free themes, more add ons and exclusive content. Basically, XBL gives you subscription based app compatibility and multiplayer. TWO OPTIONS THAT ARE INCLUDED WITH PSN's free service currently. Being that I've had my XBL options on monthly automatic payment settings, this also means that I paid more for XBL than any Xbl user with one of Microsoft's XBL plans. The average Xbox gamer pays 60 dollars a year for XBL. I'm paying over 120 dollars including taxes at $10.69 a month. FOR ****ING multiplayer!!!?
120 dollars equals two new games. Two new controllers. And even more discounted or used games. So to get really technical, I'm essentially paying for Hulu Plus, Netflix, XBL, Internet and Phone service and those services are equal to what I pay in a year for XBL. For a service that only gives me multiplayer and app functionality.
No free games. No free themes. (though every once in a while Xbox will give away some avatar addy) Totally lacking the value of PSN's free service and stripping app functionality that's even available on the Wii.
PSN plus on the PS4 WILL BE BETTER. Perhaps there are some qualms about "paying to play" with some, but just look at the value.
1. Free games. Exclusive game content and demos.
2. Sony's online will be much better.
3. Cheaper. No ads.
4. Other bonuses that Sony have yet to announce.
(It's free service will still include subscription based app compatibilty)
BLAH! BLAH! BLAH! A wall of text just to discern the difference. Another thing I SHOULD possibly be noting although it hasn't been confirmed would be that the upcoming XBox One MAY REQUIRE Xbox Live Gold membership just to take advantage of "teh cloud" or gaming; period. It really wouldn't surprise me if Microsoft tossed in some subscription based service that would cripple gaming with their "vanilla service". (If there's going to still be a Silver service) Again, that's a possibility; based off speculation.
Why hasn't Xbox Live ever offered anything more than Multiplayer and app functions with XBL GOLD?
PSN- Giving consumers value and options.