Print 27 comment(s) - last by BWAnaheim.. on Jun 24 at 10:55 AM

New roll-out for families introduces live sports... and a chance to "kinect".

A new package for the new and improved Xbox 360 is full of family values. The new Xbox 360 Live Gold Family Plan is just $99 (USD), the price of two regular gold subscriptions.  The family plan provides a one-year subscription for up to four people and gives the brood a new way to bond and “Kinect”.

The four accounts can be split across consoles.  The first three accounts have to be added to the same console as the primary account holder. Then they must be activated through the Family Pack before using the accounts on different consoles.

In addition to the standard collection of games and movies for the Xbox 360, November promises an addition of live sports featuring ESPN

A feature called Family Center allows member access to exclusive family content, special discounts, family settings and account management.  Here parents can monitor activity reports, control purchases and give away Microsoft Points as they see fit.  The Family Center can be used through the dashboard or on

Another prominent feature is the Family Programming option.  This option removes all mature games, movies, and content from the dashboard. 

Family Programming also provides intelligent default settings for children, teens and adults.  Family Settings is a feature that utilizes a family timer, allowing parents to control the amount of time that children can play. There is also a title exception feature that allows parents to select which games they want their children to have access to.  

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By austinag on 6/23/10, Rating: 0
RE: Seriously
By hughlle on 6/23/2010 12:05:49 PM , Rating: 1
totally agree. i've also never quite understood why people would pay for it, much like with say WoW etc, once i've paid for a product i should not then have to continue to pay to use it for the rest of it's life.

RE: Seriously
By therealnickdanger on 6/23/2010 12:23:30 PM , Rating: 5
One could argue the same about taxes.

If Microsoft never upgraded servers, never improved the interface, never added new features, never had servers break, never had to advertise products, never had to buy exclusive rights, and never wanted to offer (arguably) the best and most comprehensive online gaming community... yeah, I suppose it should be free.

I am looking forward to this family plan. I have been ranting about issues with multiple-360-households for a long time. It will be nice to resolve some of these stupid little problems once and for all. My wife and I pay $100/yr between the two of us. $100/yr for 4 users? Count me in.

RE: Seriously
By Crucial on 6/23/2010 12:51:01 PM , Rating: 2
This might have been an better argument if they only made one game that used the live service. The cost of online play should be included in the cost of the games. There are plenty of people that are buying the games and not using the live service to subsidize the service's cost.

RE: Seriously
By therealnickdanger on 6/23/2010 1:44:45 PM , Rating: 4
I'm not so sure about that either.

In the case of WoW, users buy the game for $20, then pay $15/mo to play. This pays for everything behind the scenes plus gives the developer/publisher lots of delicious profit to grow. Obviously the $20 game cost alone could never support the quality and quantity of content for so many users. So how much would you be willing to pay for a single game that included the costs for years of gameplay and expansions on an equivalent network? $60? $100? $500?

In the case of XBL, the monthly cost is under $5/mo and allows you to have most, if not all, the features of the WoW multiplayer experience (messaging, voice chat, team play, clans, stat tracking, etc.) for across an entire library of games and media! If you don't like to play multiplayer games online, you don't have to get a Gold account. You can still download content, get achievements, and play split-screen (in most cases) using a free Silver account.

XBL is a very hard model to beat, IMO.

RE: Seriously
By satveeraj on 6/23/2010 1:02:01 PM , Rating: 2
Spot on!!! Most people dont realize that to run a large scale online infrastructure it requires...let me!!!!

RE: Seriously
By callmeroy on 6/23/2010 2:43:08 PM , Rating: 2
Actually I never quite understood why people think online services like MMO's or gaming services like XBL should be free to play.

Argument 1: You know it costs money up front these services never really hide that fact, so if you disagree with paying..don't.

Argument 2: It costs money to support these things. Particularly MMO's because its actual content that is always changing, they pay customer service people (GM's in the case of WoW) to assist players 24/7 in-game. As its been pointed out suggest the purchase price of the game alone should be expected to sustain on-going costs is ridiculous.

Argument 3: The "GuildWars defense"....people like to bring up MMO's that are "free to play" to say "see it can be done". Yeah and in almost all cases they fail to admit one or two realities...a) the content doesn't change or isn't as developed (Guild Wars has MUCH less content changes/updates and the story doesn't hold a candle to the rich Warcraft universe for example) or b) you pay in other ways. There's a game model where the game is free to play...but you pay real money for pretty much everything races, armor, weapons, talents, spells, etc....

RE: Seriously
By SunAngel on 6/23/2010 3:55:17 PM , Rating: 2
When a game install is ~3GB, you would think the majority of the rendering and gaming syncing is on the user's computer not the MMO servers. Thus, beyond the basics of connecting players, wtf could an MMO charging $15/month have in the way of expenses? Bandwidth? Maybe bandwidth is not cheap, but a 5Mbps connection would connect thousands of pcs worldwide. Don't get me wrong, but subscription gaming, i.e. MMO's, definitely expose the idiot in all of us.

RE: Seriously
By nafhan on 6/23/2010 4:40:29 PM , Rating: 2
Why does this expose the idiot in all of us any more than, say, cable TV or buying a single player game that you'll only play for 10 hours?
People are willing to pay for this stuff! Sure WoW or Live might have more users if they were free, but they are both (obviously) providing a rich enough gaming experience that people are willing to pay. How much people will pay is based on what they get out of it; not how much it costs the developer/publisher/service provider to run the system.

RE: Seriously
By Digimonkey on 6/23/2010 4:39:55 PM , Rating: 2
Server Hardware costs, upgrades, power usage, bandwidth. Plus you aren't going to host a server on a DSL/Cable modem, it's going to be a fiber optics line that's commercially dedicated. Server/Database admins to maintain servers and do updates, programmers to update/add content. I'm sure I'm forgetting something. Anyways, does it warrant a monthly fee? Sure, is it worth $15 a month, that's up to the player.

Calling someone an idiot because they spend a minuscule of their income on something that keeps them occupied for hours a day/week/month is very naive.

RE: Seriously
By therealnickdanger on 6/23/2010 5:24:35 PM , Rating: 2
You've never run a multiplayer server, have you? You need a healthly amount of constant bandwidth and processing power in order to accomodate more than 20 people. Back in the old days, I could easily host a CS or UT99 16-player server on my 256k/1Mb connection on a P3 system. Depending on tick rate settings, server rules, or bot detection, etc. It really all depends on each give game's netcode. What calculations are done server-side versus client-side? How much data is required? Voice chat? How much detail? How often should it refresh?

Old games were very simple, not much bandwidth was required, not many players on screen at once, not much to do except kill or be killed. Today's games are much more advanced, using much more data, but improvements in programming and compression help to reduce bandwidth, but there's a balance that has to be maintained so that it's not too taxing on the server CPU.

According to this document, using data collected in 2006, there is a per player median uplink of 2.1kbps and downlink of 6.9kbps in WoW with peaks of 64kbps downstream.

Take your 5Mbps (5,000kbit) connection and allow for 20% overhead and you're left with a 4Mbps connection. Assuming no one ever exceeds median demands, 4,000kbitps would allow for ~579 players. At peak, you're only allowed ~62 players, so the real number is probably somewhere in between. Of course, this was 4 years ago and the game has many new features, larger raiding parties, and improved net code. Blizzard has literally hundreds of servers globally (thousands?), but they don't detail much of that. What hardware do they contain? They partner with AT&T and other ISPs to host server farms and offer customer support for all of it. I think you're grossly underestimating just what it takes.

Bottom line is that it is darn expensive to run "The World" and via up-front marketing and years of operation, Blizzard more than earns their money and its users are more than satisfied.

RE: Seriously
By monomer on 6/23/2010 3:39:28 PM , Rating: 2
I thought that was what the Silver account was for. You can buy stuff online, but you just don't have access to multiplayer and other premium features. Am I missing something?

RE: Seriously
By Flunk on 6/23/2010 3:48:33 PM , Rating: 2
No, the OP has just never used an xbox 360 so doesn't know what he's talking about.

RE: Seriously
By Alexvrb on 6/23/2010 4:05:09 PM , Rating: 3
Bingo. It's so easy to spot!

RE: Seriously
By Smilin on 6/24/2010 9:20:51 AM , Rating: 2
I dub thee Flunk VonTrollslayer.

By PAPutzback on 6/23/2010 11:38:46 AM , Rating: 2
1. Will I get a prorate when I merge two accounts previously paid for into the family\4 plan?
2. Can each member be logged into their own machine and log into the netflix app and stream.

I ask because the statement about 3 people logging into one machine is confusing.

By lightfoot on 6/23/2010 11:43:17 AM , Rating: 3
You would likely also need four Netflix accounts.

By therealnickdanger on 6/23/2010 12:30:43 PM , Rating: 2
No. Using my one Netflix account ($8.99+Blu-Ray), I can stream to 5 devices simultaneously:

3 360s in my house (mine, wife's, renter's; all with seperate Gold accounts)

1 360 at my friend's house (15 miles away using his Gold account)

1 Insignia Blu-Ray player (parents-in-law 50 miles away).

I don't know if I'm supposed to be able to do it, but it works, I can't explain it.

By SunAngel on 6/23/2010 12:56:06 PM , Rating: 2
it's okay. your netflix account has a device limit....i think it is five...anyways the devices can all access WatchNow at the same time. Read the terms of service. this is one time where we are not getting the least not yet. Knock on wood. ---i'm sure it's coming, netflix has got to figure out how to increase revenue once the innovation slows down.

Good deal
By lightfoot on 6/23/2010 11:41:03 AM , Rating: 2
Given the fact that I already have an XBOX Live Gold Account, it is nice to have the option to get 3 more accounts for only $50 per year. ($1.39 per month!)

However I would also like to see the single Gold membership drop to something more like $30-35 per year.

RE: Good deal
By VahnTitrio on 6/23/2010 12:03:04 PM , Rating: 2
You can often find deals online for 1 year subscription cards for ~$30. It isn't as convenient as the automatic deductions from a credit card but it is a little cheaper.

RE: Good deal
By Alexvrb on 6/23/2010 4:14:58 PM , Rating: 2
I don't see it as less convenient. It adds another cost-saving option, I would say more choices is better, and it still doesn't affect your ability to instantly get Gold with a credit card if you need to for some reason. You can also add more months via a card at any time, and they stack.

Once I started getting the cards, I never looked back. As you pointed out, $30-35 for a 12 month.

By nafhan on 6/23/2010 12:03:24 PM , Rating: 2
If you are willing to wait for them to go on sale and shop around, you can get 12 month xbox live gold cards for $30. In fact, Newegg had them for $30 last week. I can't check it right now, but it might still be that price. Amazon almost always has the gold cards for $40.

By BWAnaheim on 6/24/2010 10:55:46 AM , Rating: 2
C*$tc* also has them in-store (at least at my store) and generally range around $34-$35. I would expect that some retailers would discount the family pack in a similar fashion.

Amazon carries MS points, and the 4000 point pack generally ranges from $44-$48, a slight discount from the $50 MSRP. So, you can save a bit if you shop.

Charging for Gold Live is one thing.
By VooDooAddict on 6/23/2010 6:28:28 PM , Rating: 2
Charging for Gold Live is one thing. ... but charging for each user? I didn't know they did this, and don't understand why. I figured you only needed one subscription per Xbox 360.

By Lazarus Dark on 6/23/2010 10:45:23 PM , Rating: 2
Tell me about it. I had no idea either. When the 360 Arcade went to $100 at walmart last week, I snagged one, knowing full well I would need a $50 Gold subscription. But I had NO IDEA that was per user, I thought my wife could get on the same Gold account. Needless to say, I was pissed when I realized it was going to cost $100 per year! This Family pack won't help me. I will look for some of those membership deals on Amazon or Newegg that everyone says they find though.

Not sure
By Smilin on 6/23/2010 11:07:36 AM , Rating: 2
Pricing is nice for a year but I'm not sure what this would get me beyond one Gold and three silver memberships.

I know I'll need accounts for the kids when Kinect is out. It's going to need an account to tie facial recognition to.

"A lot of people pay zero for the cellphone ... That's what it's worth." -- Apple Chief Operating Officer Timothy Cook

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