Xbox Live: Worth a Price Hike?

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Microsoft's Xbox Live is the pinnacle of the online gaming experience. Although its competitors Sony and Nintendo offer their respective online services for free, Microsoft often b

xbox live
eats both in terms of organization and overall experience. The Xbox Live Gold membership costs players $50 a year and provides full functionality, including messaging, streaming Netflix, multiplayer online games, and more. Microsoft claims 20 million people use Xbox Live. But that $50 price may double over the next few years, according to financial analysts.

Speaking with the team during its Bonus Round broadcast, Michael Pachter, financial analyst with Wedbush, said Microsoft "wants to hook every gamer who has a 360 to play everything multiplayer, and pay 50 bucks a year; and then in a couple of years it's 100 bucks. [The price] is going up, we all know that."

The price inflation makes sense. Xbox Live Gold has been $50 since the get-go, and with a bunch of new features arriving on the service -- including

-- Microsoft would naturally want to increase the price tag on its property. However, with Sony and Nintendo continuing to put players online for nothing, Microsoft may meet with some heavy criticism for the move.

Already some gamers doubt not only their devotion to Microsoft post-price increase, but also Microsoft's willingness to do such a thing.

"If the price went up, I certainly wouldn't use it anymore and I'd go down to just being a silver member and use my ps3 for all my online gaming," one commenter said.

"I doubt that MS would start raising the price of XBL, they have to compete against the PSN which is free and has all the same features. What ever you may think of MS they are not stupid," said another. Others had harsh personal words for Pachter, who apparently claimed that Sony would discontinue its Blu-Ray support in favor of cutting costs.

It's never a good idea to listen to one analyst's opinion and take it as fact, especially one as outspoken as Pachter. However, it's worth imagining a world with a $100 Xbox Live subscription. Would it make you jump ship? Or would you stick with what works?

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