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The Next Xbox: The Future of Xbox Live

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With hard details of the next gen consoles finally beginning to be revealed, anticipation for Microsoft's new system is at a fever pitch. Sony was first to discuss the details of their next console, The PlayStation 4, showing off its new controller, features, and major launch titles, while Microsoft has been mostly silent. The new Xbox has been the topic of several rumors, spreading from various news outlets, inside sources, and social media. Let's discuss one of these rumored upcoming features of the Next Xbox: Xbox LIVE

Is a paid subscription service for basic online service viable for next gen?

While Sony has remained mum on the future of PSN and whether or not paid subscriptions (outside of PlayStation Plus) will be a part of it, everyone seems confident Microsoft will maintain their paid Xbox LIVE Gold service, or some variant of it, for their next-gen console. In a market where free basic online multiplayer is expected on PC and PS3, how valid is the LIVE business model in 2013? PlayStation Plus offers subscribers free games every month, while Steam periodically frequently sells titles at deep discounts. Meanwhile, LIVE offers little more than access to features that are routinely free on every other platform. Even more concerning, with the increasing presence of consoles as streaming media boxes, will a Gold LIVE account still be required to access services like Netflix?

Do you feel Microsoft will have to incetivize LIVE with free or discounted game downloads? Or do you predict they have something else up their sleeve to incentivize players to shell out for a yearly subscription? What would it take to get you to pay for a next-gen LIVE membership fee?

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