I can’t imagine having to pay a subscription fee to play games online. But then, for the most part, I’m a PC gamer. You console folks with your fancy PS5 and Xbox Series X are really being taken advantage of, and I think you should rise up against paying the multiplayer tax.
For me, this was at its most irksome when I was deep into the world of Animal Crossing. I wanted to visit someone else’s island, and to do that I had to cough up for a year’s worth of Nintendo Online. It’s one of the cheaper subscriptions for multiplayer, but it still bothered me that I needed it. I only used it once, too, and I haven’t done a single online thing with my Switch since.
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I can hear you thinking “well there are the free games.” And yes, you’re right, there are “free” games. Except they aren’t free. The classic NES and SNES games are included in a price as a value offset, and I still feel you shouldn’t be paying for online access.
What's worse, for a lot of games it’s not even Sony or Microsoft providing the services that run online play, it’s the game developer or publisher. And you may be paying for season passes and in-game items, too. How many times do you want to pay for everything you own?
I’m sure none if this bothers some people, but I’m here to be professionally bothered for you. Online play shouldn’t be stuck behind a paywall for arbitrary reasons. It gets even worse when you consider that I might be merrily driving around in Forza Horizon 4 and not paying a cent for it on PC, meanwhile, you’re playing the same game and trapped in an Xbox Live Gold subscription.
Microsoft recently got eviscerated for attempting to bump the price for Xbox Live Gold. In fact, it went so badly wrong for Microsoft that it also had to cancel charging people to play free games, like Fortnite, online. And rightly so.
Microsoft justified its attempted price hike by saying "In many markets, the price of Xbox Live Gold has not changed for years and in some markets, it hasn't changed for over 10 years." I had a good laugh at that. Microsoft is charging people for nothing but a few games (Microsoft first-party games carry no charge on PC, remember). It's inserting itself between your expensive console and the internet which people also pay for. It reminds me of that joke about management consultants stealing your watch and then charging to tell you the time.
Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo are acting like some sort of gateway to the internet. It’s like AOL and CompuServe all over again, bloated corporations that create a walled-garden that contains a few shiny things. Meanwhile, the internet is bursting with opportunities that are behind a door that costs $60 a year to unlock.
Well, citizens, perhaps it’s time to kick down the door and tell console manufacturers you’re not prepared to pay them to play games you paid for. Played over the internet, which you also paid for, on a console that you may well have had to overpay a scalper for, just to be abused with fees not present on PC.