Next-Gen Xbox Subscription Fees & Not-Always-Online Connection

May 6, 2013 by  

Xbox Fusion or Infinity

Sony struck first, spending a hefty amount of marketing dollars to fly in press from around the world to New York for the unveiling of the PlayStation 4 in late February. Now it’s Microsoft’s turn, and they’ve already confirmed the next-gen Xbox reveal is coming May 21st and it will be streamed online.

While rumors and speculation last week focused on the name of the console (Xbox Infinity vs. Xbox Fusion) what matters most to users is how the system will function and how much it will cost.

After the launch fail of Diablo 3 and issues with always-online services like EA’s origin (online connectivity required to play single-player), there were justified concerns about the next-gen consoles requiring an always-online connection. Too many gamers around the world don’t have reliable high speed internet. It’s as simple as that despite what (ex)Microsoft employee Adam Orth would have his Twitter followers believe.

PS4 Short Supply in Fall

Sony was therefore quick to clarify that the PS4 would work offline, while rumors and leaked dev kit descriptions indicated that Microsoft may go the anti-consumer route on that front, especially with their focus being on not just games but home entertainment and their Xbox TV services.

Some reports indicated that the Xbox 720/Fusion/Infinity/Durago wouldn’t require a connection to be used but it’s never been made official, until possibly today. Ars Technica were forwarded an internal Microsoft email that was reportedly sent to employees involved with the next-gen Xbox development.

“Durango [the codename for the next Xbox] is designed to deliver the future of entertainment while engineered to be tolerant of today’s Internet. There are a number of scenarios that our users expect to work without an Internet connection, and those should ‘just work’ regardless of their current connection status. Those include, but are not limited to: playing a Blu-ray disc, watching live TV, and yes playing a single player game.”

That’s good news. Imagine not being able to play a solo game unless connected online and the problems that would ensue, especially for players paying to use Xbox’s online services?

Xbox 720 Pictures

This brings us to the other big piece of news regarding the subscription fees of Xbox Live for the next-gen systems. Last month, Paul Thurrot, a tech blogger who follows Windows closely, spoke about the new Xbox on the What The Tech video show, and dropped/confirmed a few details:

  • Next-gen Xbox event was scheduled for April 24th, now it’s pushed back to May 21st.
  • Next-gen Xbox will release in “early November.”
  • Next-gen Xbox will cost $500, but $300 with a subscription.
  • “Must be internet-connected to use” according to the “notes” he’s seen.
  • There will also be a new Xbox 360 model (codenamed Stingray) for $100.

So far, the first three statements listed above appear to be true while the fourth appears to be false.  The most interesting is the subscription service, something Microsoft tested with the Xbox 360 recently where users could buy the console for a lesser retail price so long as they sign a two-year deal for Xbox Live Gold (at a higher monthly price). It’s the smartphone service model and it’s very likely going to be a part of Microsoft’s Xbox plans going forward.

Thurrot adjusted his claims last week on Twitter, saying that the monthly subscription fees for the Xbox services will be $15 instead of $10 (this is for the $299 model), which when added to additional subscriptions like Netflix, is really starting to add up. Paying for internet, paying for the games and consoles, and then paying an additional fee to use them all together is killer on gamers, especially when PC, PS3 and Wii U games are playable for free online. Microsoft got away with this since the first Xbox and it’s not going away. The difference with the next-gen is that they’ll have more services to offer with its Windows 8-powered next-gen console.

We’ll find out more on the rumored two next-Xbox models in just two weeks, along with what the subscription fees entail. If anything’s for certain, games, DLC, services are all going to be expensive. At least we can soon say goodbye to the “Xbox 720″ temp name.

Let me know on Twitter @rob_keyes what you’d like to see from the new Xbox.

Sources: Ars Technica

17 Comments

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  1. Microsoft needs to get over the subscription bullsh*t.

  2. well guess microsoft finally get their heads out of their A##es and figured out that not every one has a great or stable internet connection!!

    well if the new xbox plays used games ill buy it over a PS4!!

    what about the rumor that xbox live will cost $15 a month or $110-$120 for a full year?

    • Do people not read these articles? “the subscription service, something Microsoft tested with the Xbox 360 recently where users could buy the console for a lesser retail price so long as they sign a two-year deal for Xbox Live Gold (at a higher monthly price).”

    • Always online was never a thing to begin with. Someone somewhere caught wind of a rumor and, because the Internet loves drama, people ran with it.
      As for the used game thing, in a conversation with Games Industry International, GameStop’s CEO J. Paul Raines spoke about the next Xbox saying, “We’ve been spending a lot of time with Microsoft, but we have to let them take the lead on [the new console], but it will be a very hot, very compelling device. They are doing some really cool stuff, and I’m eager to hear them start their announcements because I think the world is going to stand up and take notice.”

      Considering the fact that buying/selling used games is a major part of Gamestops business plan, I think it’s safe to assume that used games are going to be a thing.

      source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baXBEY5bdb4

  3. $500model $300model and maybe a $100model and still a sub fee… ha and people were crying because the wii u was “pricy” wait until the price for the ps4 is revealed folks

    • like 800…

    • ps4 price rumors between 400 and 500 so boom.

      • “soooo boom” really what are you 15? And we all heard the “rumors” but with what sony says is under the hood price tag will be like 550 500 range if they’re stupid like last time which they still pretty are

        • Haters gonna hate!

  4. Last I recall I was paying 70$ a year for gold. At some point probably 100$ a year I will have to stop using the Gold service and switch to PSN and play station. I am definitely not be dumb enough to go for a 10 or 15 dollar a month service, to get a cheaper Xbox though.

  5. well if the rumors are true ps4 is going to have better graphics just like the ps3 did over 360, and from what I’ve read Microsoft is having to rush the new system bc of Sony presenting their new console as soon as they did… can you say red rings of death

    • Well, first off, PS3 came out one year later then the Xbox 360. That led the PS3 to have slightly updated hardware. This time around, Microsoft and Sony are releasing their consoles at the same time. This means the graphics shall be the same on both consoles. Microsoft as well is not struggling to get the Xbox 720 out to people. I think they have played it tactically and waited closer to E3 to reveal the console. I personally love both consoles but tend to stick to the Xbox more due to the fact of the controller and over all I find it “Better” then the PS3. Now that the New Xbox’s console reveal event will be closer to E3, people will be more interested in that then the PS4 and that would lead Microsoft to “win” E3 this year.

  6. I am sorry but paying for online subscription is bs. I already pay enough for internet to have to pay another fee to pay online for something that other systems already include. Thanks but no thanks.

  7. Yeah from the start I always thought it was just going to be certain services only that were going to be always online but paying for online is one of the reasons I only play local multiplayer/couch co-op and certain single player games on it while I use the internet on my other consoles and pc.

  8. I dont care for the online, parents pay for it, i want to see the actual console and decide for myself if the upgrade is needed. If not ill be sticking with my 360.

  9. In the past two years that I have had the internet, the internet service went down 4 or 5 times. Out of those 5 times that it went down, it was almost always because of people stealing the copper from the phone lines.
    Always online is not a good thing.

  10. The reason why they kept the subscription fee is because people keep subscribing. That really adds up and puts a nice dent in my budget, which is why I stopped playing my 360.

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