Microsoft Hikes Xbox Live Fees - InformationWeek

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Microsoft Hikes Xbox Live Fees

Gold members will have to shell out more after Nov. 1 if they want to maintain access to multiplayer support and other advanced features.

Microsoft is increasing subscription rates for its Xbox Live online gaming service by as much as 25% in some cases.

Effective Nov. 1, the price for a one-month Gold subscription in the U.S. increases from $7.99 to $9.99, a three-month Gold subscription will rise from $19.99 to $24.99, and a one-year Gold membership will jump from $49.99 to $59.99.

Microsoft offers basic Xbox Live access for free, but players need a Gold membership to access advanced services like multiplayer support and Netflix streaming videos. Microsoft officials said the rate increases are justified by the growing amount of content—from games to TV shows and movies—available over Xbox Live.

"Since launching Xbox Live in 2002 we have continually added more content and entertainment experiences for our members, while keeping the price the same," said Larry Hryb, director of programming for Xbox Live, in a blog post Monday.

"We're confident that when the new pricing takes effect, an Xbox Live Gold membership will continue to offer the best value in the industry," said Hryb, who goes by the handle "Major Nelson" on Xbox Live.

Skeptics, however, might suggest the move is simply a cash grab as Microsoft looks to capitalize on high-profile game launches timed for the 2010 back-to-school and holiday seasons. Most notably, Microsoft plans to release Halo Reach on Sept. 14. The latest installment in the smash hit Halo series, Halo Reach is an Xbox exclusive that offers multiplayer support over Xbox Live.

Leaked copies of the game have reportedly appeared on illicit file sharing sites, and Microsoft has threatened to permanently ban from Xbox Live any player caught using an illegally downloaded version.

Hryb also said Microsoft plans to increase Xbox Live Gold subscription rates by varying amounts in Canada, Mexico, and the U.K.

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