By Jared Newman | Tuesday, October 27, 2009 at 4:06 pm
The Playstation 3’s upcoming support for Netflix isn’t enough to shake Microsoft, which will still require an Xbox Live Gold subscription to stream Netflix movies through the console.
IGN confirmed that Microsoft won’t offer Netflix streaming to users of the free Xbox Live Silver service, a bare-bones offering that doesn’t include online play, among other features. A Gold subscription costs $50 per year, while access to the Playstation Network has always been free, though both consoles require you to have a Netflix subscription as well.
The official line from Microsoft is that Xbox Live is “a generation ahead of the competition” despite the extra costs. A company representative cited Facebook, Twitter and Last.fm support, which are coming soon, along with Netflix and the quiz show 1 vs. 100.
This argument seems to validate what I’ve said before, that Microsoft really wants to build a case for Xbox Live even if you don’t play too many games online. Multiplayer remains the best reason to grab an Xbox Live Gold subscription, but it’s not for everyone. Once Microsoft reaches for the casual crowd with Project Natal, other lures will be necessary.
None of Microsoft’s non-gaming incentives stand on their own, but when combined, Xbox Live Gold becomes attractive, and Netflix is a piece of the puzzle. That’s why the Microsoft representative used the phrase “best value in home entertainment” when referring to Xbox Live Gold as a whole. Microsoft can’t afford to diminish that value, even if parts of the service can be had for free elsewhere.