Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image | January 20, 2018

Scroll to top



Gates tries to Define Battlefield |

In a battle, being able to define the field of conflict is a definite advantage for the side that can do it.

Gates is trying to determine that field in the minds of gamers. If gamers think that the platform that does X better is the better platform, then that console has won in the gamers’ minds. That’s exactly what Gates wants to do with the Xbox 360 and Xbox Live. If people think that a centralized online service is a must-have for a next-gen console, then the only real choice would be the 360.

Only 10% of original Xbox users ever signed up for Xbox Live. Say that doubles for 360 owners. That would be 20% of 360 owners using Xbox Live. Even tripling the number would still only give you 30% of 360 owners going online. I can well imagine that a large percentage of early 360 adopters are going online. But what happens when the 360 becomes generally available and more normal type folks buy the 360? I think the percentage of 360 owners who are online will actually go down over time. Does anybody know what it is now?

And this is the vaunted battlefield where Gates is trying to grab mindshare. In an area where only a small number of console owners go, Microsoft is clearly superior. Never mind that the lack of a centralized service doesn’t necessarily mean that the online experience will be any worse off. PC gamers have gone without a centralized service since, well, forever. PS2 owners don’t have a centralized online service. The rest of the world seems to be getting along just fine without a centralized service.

So maybe a centralized online service shouldn’t be the battlefield for the next-gen consoles. Oh! I know! What about the games! What a novel concept! Let’s see what platforms has the better games, and declare that the battlefield. Gosh, an even playing field, not based on an artificial definition of what a winner is. What a concept.


  • Chemical

    Well maybe part of being a good game is the online experience. I loved the single player part of Halo 2, yet the live service online play has given me hundreds of hours of extra fun. Which I consider part of the whole gaming package, and that goes for dozen of xbox titles. So maybe Gates has a point. And when games like Resident Evil 5 and the next gta have online components Im sure ill love having xbox live.

  • And you can still have that same fun without a centralized service.

  • Richard Lawler

    I disagree, a centralized online service does make games better. The fact that I can easily see all of my friends online, what they’re playing, how far they’ve gone, the online interface is universal for every game (no need to relearn the magic button), really does make for a better experience.

    Also, whether or not third party developers can make an online experience as good as for example halo, is unknown. With Xbox live, they’ve got the tools, of course some developers like the coD guys don’t always make it perfect anyway, but I think it will continue to be better.

    Can you have fun without a centralized service? sure. Are there a lot of things you cna do with centralized service that just aren’t on the table without one? yup, so I don’t think it will be quite as good. How crucial it is remains to be seen.

  • It was announced at CES that over 50% of current Xbox 360 owners have signed up to Xbox Live, that’s a huge jump compared to the Xbox.

  • Black Guy

    Usually those who downplay centralized services like Xbox Live probably haven’t thouroughly experienced it themselves. I’ve been playing online for a while (well b4 Live) and iNever thought anything of it until iExperienced Xbox Live. There is really a sense of connection and everything is universal. I have select few gamers on Live w/ who frequently meet up w/ in the same or different games, and it really does make the game more enjoyable.

  • I’m not denying the benefits of Xbox Live. I’m just pointing out a couple things:

    1. A centralized service isn’t necessary for online enjoyment.
    2. While a large number of 360 owners currently use Xbox Live (over 50% according to Hiro), that number will probably drop over time.
    3. The whole gaming experience is what’s important. Online is just a component of that.

    Therefore using Live as the determining factor of who wins the next-gen console war is erroneous.

  • Gary

    Online play holds no interest at all for me.

    I’m sure I’m not alone in having that view either so Bill Gates can think what he likes but the next gen war will NOT be won or lost via who has the better online capabilites.

    Why don’t you guys post in the forum?

  • Black Guy

    Centralized service is not necessary for online gaming but it makes the experience better. I don’t need cable to watch TV but its a better experience than using rabbit ears. Live is cheap and it brings increased functionality to online gaming (unless u’ve used Live, u’ll probably disagree).

    Your assumption that the subscription rate will probably drop is erronous. Maybe the ratio of the number of owners not online to those who are could increase as the user base increases (particularly since many owners will not have broadband service). But overall, the actual number on Live is going to be greater than it has ever been. Every X360 game has an online component or is at least Live aware. MS also offers a free version of Live that offers the user a sense of what Live is about. I think even after this limited experience, many are going to be curious to experience the full shot and subscribe. Taking these factors into consideration, there is just no way the number of users will drop over time unless MS does something stupid like increase the price too much.

    Also, I don’t believe Gates is really suggesting Live is the sole or even a major decisive factor this race. I think he was trying to get across that online is important and – if you are familiar w/ the Xbox philosophy – who Live contributes. He was trying to do was promote the services (including centralized gaming) offered by Live to improve the X360 experience. Services that you will not be able to get w/ PS3 and Rev. Peep Nintendo, its doing the same thing with Rev, but their angle is the catalogue of classic games downloadable only on Rev instead of online gaming and the marketplace on Live. The guy came up on $40+ bill; i Think he’s smart enough to realize that its going to take more than just Live to beat PS3. Not all owners are going to have broadband which is required for Live so common sense will suggest that it can’t be the only major thing in the arsenal.

    Lastly, with games costing upwards of $60 bills, I believe online gaming is going to become a necessity (in applicable games of course) if it hasn’t already. People are going to want more for their money and playing online is excellent way to get more mileage out of a game. Online ADDS to the whole gaming experience espcially in competive games such as sports and FPS. Its not just a mere component as you stated. Games like Unreal is built focused on online gaming. You think most publishers will release games based on just “components.” Including online features will become tantamount to buying a new car and expecting it to have AC as standard not optional.

  • Black Guy hit the nail on the head.

    My thoughts since the beginning, when Sony announced “no centralized online gaming service”, are that Sony does not want to admit that Microsoft is headed in the right direction when it comes to online gaming.

    If Sony announced that they would go centralized, then that would be telling their userbase that Microsoft is better, so go get a 360. That’s why Sony announced it right before the 360 launch, so they can keep as many of their current users as they can. They basically told their fans… “See, there’s nothing special there. We arn’t going centralized, so stay here with us and forget about this xbox hooplah.”

    Not going centralized is a mistake. I have converted several PS fans to Xbox Live and they’re loving every nimute of it. Sony will be fools not to go centralized.

    Just wait, give it one year after the ps3 launch. Sony will go centralized. You can bet on it!