We kept thinking about the Xbox Live price hike as the week went on, trying to divine its purpose, and came up with a big ol’ goose egg. And a comic, I guess. And I ordered a big stack of cut-rate 12 month cards. But other than that, no. Well, get more money, I guess. That part is relatively straightforward.
I think the strip more or less communicates the guts of it. The friends list represents an organism that you have tended over X years, nearly eight in my case, and has a value independent of the expenditure the way an account for an MMO might. It’s synonymous with a thousand experiences I’d gladly have again. Some of these are the experiences everyone hates about Xbox Live, such as encounters with white supremacists or thirteen year old bigots, but there is no asshole online or off that is the equal of Gabriel, and their increasingly impotent sputterings in the face of his prowess are delicious to me.
PSN is not an acceptable substitute for Xbox Live, though it’s often said to be, because in order to appear reasonable it is sometimes necessary to say things which are untrue. The only way to say something like that with a straight face is if you don’t have experience with both, or if you don’t play a lot of online games with friends. Even ancillary things like how it updates games (or the box itself) aren’t up to par. I’ve had that fantasy before, believe me, the one where I shift my allegiance: Bluetooth headset slung firmly over the ear, I would set out to found a virtuous kingdom. But then I couldn’t chat with whoever I wanted, when I wanted to chat with them. I couldn’t form a game independent group to plan the evening’s adventures, retain communications, or simply to mute every other person on the service. Invites don’t manifest themselves in any kind of consistent form. These aren’t little things - they’re baseline functionality. It would be great if Sony offered a product this absolute, but they have chosen not to do so.
It isn’t really about ten dollars. I have ten dollars; you have seen to it. It’s the tug of the reins I don’t like, the steel bit in my jowls which denotes mastery. As I’ve said, I find the service worthwhile at a few bucks a month, and with the cards I grabbed yesterday I’ll be paying thirty-eight dollars a year for the foreseeable future. But God damn can I hold a grudge, God damn; and making me resent you is the first step to my courting another.