On Monday, Microsoft announced it is raising the price of admission to its Xbox Live online community where people can play videogames or watch movies using Xbox 360 consoles. Yearly subscriptions will increase from $50 to $60, quarterly subscriptions will jump from $20 to $25, and monthly subscriptions will go up from $8 to $10. Before the price hike, Microsoft is giving subscribers a chance to get one more year for $40, effectively negating the new price until 2012. Joystiq points out that several retailers are also selling $40 yearly subscription cards, which you can stock up on now and use over a longer period of time.
Microsoft offers basic Xbox Live access for free, but players need a Gold membership to access advanced services like multiplayer support and Netflix streaming videos. Microsoft officials said the rate increases are justified by the growing amount of content from games to TV shows and movies available over Xbox Live.
Gamers in the U.S. aren’t the only ones incurring the higher prices; Xbox Live members in Canada, Mexico, and the U.K. will see bumps in costs as well. Year-long Xbox Live Gold membership in Mexico will climb 100 pesos to 599 pesos. Xbox Live subscription prices are not set to change in the more than 20 other countries or territories where the service is offered, according to Microsoft.
“Since launching Xbox Live in 2002 we have continually added more content and entertainment experiences for our members, while keeping the price the same,” said Larry Hryb, director of programming for Xbox Live, in a blog post Monday.
“We’re confident that when the new pricing takes effect, an Xbox Live Gold membership will continue to offer the best value in the industry,” said Hryb, who goes by the handle “Major Nelson” on Xbox Live.
Microsoft is building a bigger price gap between its online service and those of its competitors, one that’ll make consumers think twice about staying loyal to the Xbox brand. If the gap continues to grow between now and the next console generation, Microsoft will get its comeuppance.
While Microsoft had announced a few new Xbox Live services at this summer’s E3, including ESPN 3 support.