XBox Live is consistently heralded as the finest console gaming network. The Playstation Network is new to the scene, and doesn’t really offer as much as Live does in the way of connectivity… then again, it’s free. Nintendo’s network is still in the works, with the company opening new channels as it goes on. So, why is it so hard to reach out to the gamers when you have a quality product without much actual competition? The answer is perception.
“A lot of casual gamers are intimidated by online in general, both in terms of the technology and the human competition. That’s changing, but it still has a ways to go.”
One of the major problems that a gaming network can run into is the idea of playing against complete strangers. There’s a certain mass-market appeal to playing online with friends, co-workers and family in a friendly or lightly competitive environment. That same appeal just isn’t there when playing against a 15-year-old who has logged 500 man-hours into the latest game just so he can call you names and question your mother’s virtue.
Microsoft tried to take steps to help sort out the different kind of players by having categories that you can choose that suit your amount of playtime and devotion, but there’s only so much that can do. Whoever figures out a way to make the online realm a more friendly place to take your console experience will be the company that controls the market. Until then, you can just mute the other players.