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I still don't understand how Microsoft can charge people a monthly fee to play multiplayer games on Xbox--or Sony doing the same on PS4--when the very same games can often be played on a gaming computer for no more than the cost of the internet connection and the individual game subscription fees (if any).

That type of blatant rent-seeking by gatekeepers can never happen in an open-source OS gaming ecosystem with unrestricted HID hardware. It's a structural impossibility. That's what I think about when I see the phrase. It's PC-master race, not PC master-race. Owning your own device means being its master, and master over any software that must petition you to run on it.

For that $60/yr you pay for Xbox Live, you also get $700 worth of games included with the price. Every month you get two or three free games, usually older AAA games like Assassins Creed Black Flag or one of the Halo or Gears of War games. This month you get Hitman Blood Money and Overcooked for free, which are both great games. Xbox Live is only the cost of one brand new AAA game per year, and again you get games included that you can download and play forever, so it really offsets the cost.

You also have better anti-cheat systems (get caught cheating on PC, you have to buy another copy... get caught cheating on Xbox you have to buy another Xbox). I tried playing CoD4 on PC when it came out and very quickly switched to Xbox because I didn't want to have to install an aimbot.

But that's ignoring all the games that exist on PC that you do have to pay money to play online...

Great. If that's such a great deal, unbundle the games from the network access. I am perfectly happy not getting bonus games if I can use my own network connection without getting permission.

None of this addresses the fact that console manufacturers are erecting tiny tollbooths on the wire between the computing device that the customers own and the network router that the customers own, extracting rents from transactions that they no longer have any business being a part of.

The best anti-cheat system I have ever seen is the ability for users to refuse to play with other users whom they suspect may be cheaters. Whether they actually are or not is immaterial. You should be able to not play with someone who makes a game less fun for you (blacklisting). And you should also be able to play with only friends whom you know and have invited (whitelisting). Needing anti-cheat measures beyond that is usually a symptom of not allowing customers to run their own private servers, likely because they won't pay for access to the main company servers if they don't have to. Get caught cheating or griefing on my server, and you can only play in the trashbag-exile instance, which is somehow still fun for some twisted weirdos. Get caught cheating on a centralized corporate server, and someone has to Report you, then there is a Process, and then that guy is banned and maybe just replaced by yet another guy just like him, doing all the same stuff that got the last guy banned. If your culture turns toxic, the good players abandon the game altogether, instead of just switching servers.

I don't know of any games that have both a PC and a console version that charges for the PC version, but not the console. That money to the games distributor pays for the server maintenance and the development team salaries, and there is a clear line of demarcation between what I own and what I am paying for. But there have always been free servers, pay servers, prince/pauper servers, and donation begging servers out there in the computing world, since shortly after 1 Jan 1983. It has been entirely possible to waste all your spare time online, from your home computer, without spending a single dime above the cost of the network link, for decades now.

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