Written by Jason Trent Tuesday, 04 January 2011 14:36
Microsoft has dropped a bombshell. As of April 15, 2010, Xbox LIVE support for original Xbox consoles
and games will be discontinued. Many are upset at this choice and others are indifferent. One thing is certain: Microsoft promised that in doing this, LIVE would be allowed to evolve beyond what it is now. What does that mean to gamers, and why is this going to be a good change for us all?
1. The potential to raise the 100-friend limit and other unknown benefits: As of now, Xbox LIVE users are limited to having 100 friends on their friends' list at any one time. In a time of Twitter and Facebook, services that allow hundreds upon hundreds of friends, this limitation seems silly. Microsoft has stated that they too feel annoyed with this limitation and have confirmed that this is something bound by technical restraints caused by legacy Xbox LIVE support. Halo 2, easily the most popular original Xbox LIVE title, was named as one of the biggest reasons why the original Xbox LIVE service has remained this long. Now that legacy support will no longer be an issue, Microsoft should be free to raise this limit as well as implement additional enhancements and changes to the service that we'd not otherwise see. We don't yet know what these additional changes may entail, but you'd better bet it will be worth it.
2. More bandwidth and rack space for Xbox 360's Xbox LIVE: Out with the old and in with the new. A good spring cleaning within Microsoft will make space for additional servers for the 360's LIVE service. It will also allow for more bandwidth where its needed. Remember holiday season of 2007? Ditching original Xbox LIVE support could very well make that a thing of the past. LIVE has come a long way since then, but still, it couldn't hurt to have additional insurance and resources for when things don't go quite as expected.
3. Development and administration resources: You know that saying about spreading yourself too thin? It applies to server administration and development too. Shutting down the original Xbox LIVE service will allow Microsoft to redistribute its company resources to have a larger focus on the Xbox 360's LIVE experience. What does that mean to you? It means less downtime, greater stability, and faster service. The less time spent fiddling with old technology the better. Microsoft knows that Xbox Live is one of the key components of the Xbox 360's success, and Xbox Live and PlayStation network become closer and closer in functionality every day. This change could bring big enough change to widen the gap in Microsoft's favor.
4. Encourage gamers to move up to a modern platform: I'm not one to back people into a corner, but this change does have the potential to encourage those on the fence or who would otherwise not consider upgrading from the Xbox to the Xbox 360 a new reason to switch. The more people who switch, the more people we'll have to play with. With more people on Xbox LIVE on 360, we'll see more diversity in its user base. This will lead to greater incentive for Microsoft to continue to make changes that will make the service appeals to a wider audience. We all win.
5. Consolidation of audience: Microsoft will be able to reach a larger audience by providing demos and other forms of advertising to users who have decided to move to the Xbox 360. This will result in greater revenue, and greater revenue will eventually lead to more features, more exclusives, and maybe even lower game prices. How many games have you bought because you tried the demo on Xbox LIVE first? Certainly many for me. Lost Planet had one of the first demos that convinced me to buy a game I'd not normally buy, and there have been many many demos that have done the same since then.
And let's not forget that getting rid of the original Xbox LIVE service means that the awful logo will go to its grave too. That's reason enough for me. This change ends one era and heralds the success of another. People might disagree on principle, but honestly, how many of you really play original Xbox titles on LIVE? Most serious gamers have moved on to the 360, so in my opinion, this decision was made wisely. Great things will come from this.
Psst! This article was the result of a cross-blog participation effort between us and Gamesylvania. We thought it might be fun to do a point/counter-point style series of articles. Interested in getting involved? Contact Jason Trent for more info on doing cross-blog promotions and guest posts!