Keep Enjoying Great Gold Benefits

Judging by the way my Xbox keeps hinting I might want to renew my Xbox Live Gold subscription (USD50/year), I'm guessing my Xbox Live Gold subscription is soon to run out. To help persuade me, there's a sort of "click here for an ad" thing in the Xbox's UI, and when I click (or, in this case, hit OK on the remote), I get, under the title "Keep Enjoying Great Gold Benefits" this list:

  • Online multiplayer
  • facebook
  • twitter
  • last.fm

You'll notice something about those benefits. It's related to the fact that most of them are in all-lowercase, a branding decision doubtless chosen based on the fact that they are, in fact, web sites. Even NETFLIX is a web site. Here's the simplified version:

  • Online multiplayer
  • We won't break the internet if you pay us

Except even that's not quite true, because even if you pay them, they'll still only let you use less than a handful of sites; the ones they deem appropriate. Four, to be precise.

If the question were only "is the Xbox UI sufficiently better than the alternatives available to you that you're prepared to pay anew each year for it?", these "benefits" might still be convincing. But the voice in the back of my head keeps telling me the question is really "do you want to support these business practices, this walled-off worse-than-Apple internet?". And the answer to that one is very different.

(Though I despise the PS3's UI almost as much as it clearly despises me, the equivalent services on the PS3 are all free. In both cases, you need to provide your own internet connection, of course.)