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back to article Sony PlayStation Network vs MS Xbox Live

The online functionality of games consoles has come a long way. Unrecognisable from the 14.4Kb/s modem sideshow curios on the SNES and Megadrive, and a quantum leap over Sega's iconoclastic Dreamcast, the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3's online services can alone inform purchasing decisions. So if you're contemplating buying either …

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jai
Silver badge

no thanks

i think i'll use my 40 quid a year to buy another game each year instead of paying to be allowed to access online gaming

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FAIL

Argggh

XBox Live is the worse service I think I've ever come across.

Let's start from the beginning.

I use a PC for games. Therefore I use Games For Windows Live.

I buy new machine and put Windows 7 on it. I install F1 2010.

• I get a box asking for my WindowsLive ID.

• I put my details in and the game installation closes and a browser window appears showing XBox Live

• I put my email and password in the box

• I get given a new gamertag tied to my existing email address and password

• Result: F1 2010 says I can't use it because my CD key is ties in with an account I CAN NO LONGER GET INTO

• I try to get on the Games For Windows Live forum.

• I go through a multitude of pages - one minute it's Windows, the next minute it is Games for Windows.

• Cannot get on the forum because it says I have no gamertag (I'm logged in at the top)

• Following the instructions just takes me to XBox Live crap

• I fine other people on the internet have the same problem.

• HOW CAN NOBODY ON THE GAMES FOR WINDOWS LIVE FORUM NOT NOTICE NO NEW MEMBERS HAVE BEEN ON FOR THE LAST 6 WEEKS? NOBODY CAN FEKKIN GET ON.

• A moderator on one of Microsoft's million other forums helpfully states that you should post on the VERY FORUM YOU CAN'T GET ONTO how to get on the forum

So I try calling them.

• I go on the Games for Windows page.

• I get a phone number and call it.

• It is the XBox number. The person on the phone is completely confused when I talk about Games for Windows Live. She goes to get a manager. She says she can't help. I ask who should I talk to? She says she has no idea.

I post my problem on the XBox forum and Windows Live ID forum

• I get told to call the number again

I call the number and pose as an Xbox user.

• The person cannot find my gamertag EVEN THOUGH I CAN SEE IT ON THE XBOX PAGE AND I CAN BEFRIEND IT WITH ANOTHER GAMERTAG

• They suggest resetting my password. Doesn't help, just creates a whole new gamertag.

In the end I give up AND JUST BUY ANOTHER COPY OF F1 2010 JUST FOR A NEW LICENCE KEY.

Anyone know the best address in the UK to sue Microsoft? I want to file a MoneyClaim.gov online claim. There seem to be two main addresses in the UK - Manchester and Reading. Which one should I go for to try and reclaim the £29.99 I had to pay for a new copy?

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Paris Hilton

WTF?

I was with you up to the point where you said

"In the end I give up AND JUST BUY ANOTHER COPY OF F1 2010 JUST FOR A NEW LICENCE KEY."

You what? Bought the same product again? Yes, I see you want to sue them but surely you would have just taken the stupid thing back to where you bought it and demanded a refund?

Personally, I would rather pirate a game than purchase anything that requires a Windows LIVE account to install.

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Anonymous Coward

RE: Oh Andrew

Actually

Despite being a massive PS Move fanboy and thinking that Kinect is a pile of pap. I think the critique of the PSN Shop in this article is way too light.

A LOT (as in far too many) of the new releases on PSN are just addon crap or DLC like a new costume for your character or some other pointless faffery. Also there are more games on there than you would find acceptable that are just plain shite.

Then there are the 1 paragraph piss poor descriptions of games that they want you to buy with no screenshots or any indication of the game content. A lot of the time it's almost like they are trying to hide the games from you before you buy them.

The big game releases don't suffer from this, only the small independant developed games. It makes me wonder if Sony are charging an arm and a leg to have luxury things like screenshots next to your game.

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A Fair Review

I tend to agree with the author. XBL wins it for me purely because of the simplicity of the online gaming experience.

I am lucky though, I own both PS3 and XBL so I don't have to make a choice. :-)

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Stop it.....

You little tease you... getting the Xmas flame wars off to a great start with a reasoned and sensible article.

You know damn well that the slightest hint of driticism for one system or the other will result in your journalistic integrity, general morals and choice of cheese being immediately attacked by all and sundry.

For what it;'s worth I prefer XBL to PSN for all of the reasons you give. I get XBL for about £25 a year and you can get a family pack for about £60 that covers 4 accounts so when the Kids accounts are up for renewal that's a cheaper option.

XBL games do have some problems: for example MW2 and Black Ops won't allow us both to play online over SKy at the same time even with ports forwarded due to 'strict' NAT, whatever that is. It also wobbles around between Open, Moderate and strict depending on some external factor that I don't know about. Maybe PS3s suffer from the same problem. BFBC2 works fine though.

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This post has been deleted by a moderator

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Re: Stop it.....

".....due to 'strict' NAT, whatever that is."

Port forwarding is inadequate* and I never got it working reliably the hard way either.

The easy way of making this work 100% is to enable uPNP at the router**, works a treat. Took me a while to cotton on to that, but I kicked myself good 'n hard when I did. It's actually more secure too, as the Xbox gets the router to open the ports to it on request and the router closes them once the XBL session completes. Thus you only have the necessary ports open to the outside world when they are allocated and in use.

*Presumably it *could* be adequate if MS would tell the truth about which bloody ports the thing *really* needed....

**Or if it doesn't support this, junk it and get one that does. If you're happy to lash out that much on XBL, it's a trivial investment.

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thanks for trhe suggestions

Thanks guys.

I use the standard sky router 'cos its part of the ToCs - this seems to be a common problem that googling doesn't seem tobe able to find a fix for. At the moment we're doing Nazi Zombies in split screen so I'll pop your suggestions on my to-do list once AC:B is out of the way.

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I think it's just plain cheeky.

Paying for multiplayer gaming? It seems wrong to me somehow. I appreciate the efforts to make the online experience better but at least let me play online for free to some extent. I am not interested in tournaments or chat rooms or any of that crap, i just want to turn a game on, go to the online bit and have a blast with other players.

I got rid of my xbox ages ago because it was gathering dust. I can't live without my ps3 though. It is such a good media machine now as well. I watch a lot of TV and films, and have it streaming from my server so it is as much used as sky is these days.

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FAIL

massively missed my point!

I dont want quality online gaming.....i want a bit of online gaming for free, like the PS3 does. If i wanted to pay for quality online gaming then i would. MS dont give me any online gaming option for free, so i dont use them.

So XBL Doesnt give me precisely that.

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FAIL

EPIC Fail

listening to fanboys that claim the PS3 does not have integrated cross-game chat and party chat. It has it and it works just fine, and supports 16 players. Just because some people don't know how to use it, or don't know it's there, does not mean it doesn't exist.

http://www.joystiq.com/2009/04/01/ps3-firmware-2-70-brings-16-player-in-game-text-chat/

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Mr Chalk and Mr Cheese would like a word

Are you really comparing built-in, cross-game voice chat with what basically amounts to IRC? Are you supposed to throw down your controller and quickly type '3 incoming up the left ramp, one has the flag, I'm low on health and require assistance!'

Did Betamax and VHS have such rabid blinkered fanbois?

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FAIL

... text chat?

lol

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MJI
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Beta & Vhs

Definately.

The owners of Sonys top end VCRs were rather critical of the opposition.

Mind you the 4 top end VCRs were THAT good.

The first smallish portable, the first full featured home deck, the first Beta HiFi, the ultimate fully loaded SuperBeta.

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OK, i'll explain it....

if you are talking to friends in the SAME GAME, you obviously use the voice chat system provided by the game you cretin.

Why would I want to voice chat to someone playing a different game, who are voice chatting with other gamers on that different game?

I much prefer the PSN system. You voice chat to people playing the same game, x-game chat is mostly meaningless, as I don't care what games other people on my friends list are playing, and if I do I can background text--chat them. They also don't want me interrupting their game with useless voice-chat from me in a different game.

Microsoft has the messed up implementation here. Xbox is nothing more than a lame social network, PSN is for proper gamers.

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Flame

Flame bait?

Nice balanced write up, it'll be rammed with screaming fanbois within hours.

One thing that is missing from the article is a comparison of DRM. AFAIK, PSN allows paid content to be used on a couple of devices, whereas XBL ties you to one device and woe betide you if you try to use the content offline on another device.

Having had three 360s the DRM issue on replacements is a real problem. Yes, you can transfer your licences (once per year) but as the problem generally only becomes apparent when you're stuck offline, that's not much help.

Signed,

An Xbox Fanboi

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Not quite

The DLC etc is tied to both your machine and your gamertag.

Anyone can use it on the machine that it was bought on, and the person that bought it can use it on any machine (if they're signed in to Live). So if your machine breaks and you get a new one, you can still use all your stuff but you need to be online to do so (until you transfer the licenses to the new machine)

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Gates Horns

Yes, you can use your stuff on another machine when your signed into LIVE

However, when you've got a replacement 360 and you take it away for entertainment while stuck away from home in a nasty hotel for 5 weeks, and you discover that because you're offline, you can't access half your content (even as far as games declaring their saves corrupt because of DRM failure), it's a bit of a pisser.

Ditto for the days when LIVE just doesn't work and you can't sign in.

DRM = Bad. End of.

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All fair points

As someone who owns both these consoles, I'd say your points here are fair, although no doubt some fanboys will be upset one way or the other.

The one thing I'd say is that you mentioned that Xbox has Games on Demand (read: older full games for download at a price far higher than the shops are selling them for) and didn't mention that the PS3 also offers the same option to download older, overpriced full games.

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Paris Hilton

Good Review...

...but I'd never ever buy a console for which I have to pay for on-line gaming! That to me is absolutely mental and I'm not sure if it factors enough in the review. Then again, there are millions of people' with XBL accouints, so I might just be Captain Skinflint McTightarse.

Miss Hilton 'coz she's got a tigh.... actually no, I won't.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Good review

I've only just realised (from reading a comment above) that the Xbox Live Gold pass or whatever they call it is per account and not per XBox.

That's a fucking laugh.

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Gates Horns

comment here

I used to be an XBOX live subscriber - that was until I got my ps3. There are pro's and cons of each but I am leaning towards the ps3 now due to the fact I can watch BBc iplayer / 40d and ITV catchup on it (UK users) as well as acting as a media hub for my media server (I know the 360 does this as well). Plus I can now access lovefilms.

My main gripe is having to pay to play on-line - coming from a pc gamer this was a pretty alien concept and tbh £40 a year is just not worth it to play. MS Tried to charge pc gamers to play online and that failed miserably but as long as people cough up the money each year, MS will charge for it. (and increase the cost).

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Gates Horns

Media Centre for me...

I'm a gamer too, but I'm also a father and a husband, so a 'gaming' machine would not cut it for me. With the built in movie systems, media server support, iPlayer, web browser and Blu-ray player, one PS3 can take many roles in my house.

A friend recently bought a XBOX360 'cos it was cheaper than a PS3' - then bought a Blu-ray player for his new telly - add the two up... yeah, I know!

Horses for courses.

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Troll

re: add the two up & horses for courses

Yeah, I looked at a ps3 and at the price of a big screen telly and went for a pc (and an ancient pc as a server with tv tuner) ;)

Icon: luddite

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Flame

Let the flames commence!

I own both a 360 and PS3. I refuse to pay for XBL out of principle, ultimately I get no real value. I don't get dedicated servers to play on for the most part it's p2p. Why should I be paying for something that is free everywhere else?

Any cross platform games that have multiplayer are bought on the PS3 and frankly, the last time I even powered up the 360 was to play Mass Effect 2. (buying ME3 on the pc next time, planet scanning can die in a fire.. at least pc users can use a trainer to give themselves the minerals etc rather than the monotony of repeatedly slowly moving a cursor around a rotating ball)

I think Sony's strategy of free online play (at least for me) is resulting in more sales on Sonys platform.

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Happy

Fair comments but...

no mention of the horrible lag the PSN suffers from.

I have both systems, and play both regularly, and whatever game I play on PSN seems to suffer from lag badly while xbox live goes along quite merrily.

It doesn't seem game dependent either. It can happen to any game, any time.

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Thumb Up

Good Article

Agreed with your result.

Though you should point out you have to buy that thing to go on the back of the Xbox to use the internet, which i believe is close to £70.

A membership alone won't get you internet access without that little aeriel.

My brother got an 360 and a playstation and hasn't played his Ps3 in nearly a year because of the amount of games available for the Xbox360.

The 360 makes everything seem more rewarding and i don't like how Sony took away the ability to install another OS on the PS3 either.

I have an Xbox360 for 2 years now, never had a RROD of other problem, very happy =]

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FAIL

Wired is Free

Nope - you only need that thingie for "wireless" internet/lan access - the 360 has an ethernet socket built in so using a network cable is free (and quicker of course).

Nope - I'm not an XBox fanboi - I much prefer my lovely sleek slim black shiny PS3!

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Not quite accurate

"Though you should point out you have to buy that thing to go on the back of the Xbox to use the internet, which i believe is close to £70."

Yep, the wifi adaptor on the 360 is silly money, but you don't need to have it, as you can connect an ethernet cable from your router. (Obviously that's not always practical, though)

Also, the new 360 Slim console includes wifi built in, finally.

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LAN all the way!

I have a PS3 but dont use its wireless function, as I LANned it up as soon as possible. I can stream a full 1080p film to it that way without it dropping out due to all the other wireless devices that mither the airwaves. Though it is yet another reason why the xbox is a con. Wifi adapter, bigger HDD, gold subscription, all of these take the price of an xbox very close to ps3, and that's without bluray (which is a bit redundant but does make for some lovely pictures).

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Flame

Yeah, I'll comment.

I'm lucky to have all of the current gen consoles with subs to Lovefilm, sky and sky movies.

The PSN video offering looks better on the surface, but in practice it's not that good!

LoveFilm is the best - although the video experience can be stuttery (I have a good 8MB ADSL) and the content is not that wide yet (they promise better). It's easy to navigate - I quite like it.

iPlayer is hard to navigate with the playstation controllers or remote - it uses the PS3 web browser (and that's nearly unusable). iPlayer on the Wii is actually preferable! It's easy to click on buttons with the Wiimote, you don't have to keep tabbing through buttons on each page (grr).

ITV and 4OD don't work properly at all. The ITV service looks like someone's holiday project with what seems to be about 5 programmes to stream (OK if you like corrie), and 4OD doesn't seem to want to actually play anything at all.

Contrast that to the 360. The look and feel of the Sky Player is the same as the rest of the xbox experience. There is plenty of content and I have never had any glitches. I'm a Movies subscriber so I get plenty of movies to play on demand (both new and old). I like it a lot.. And the kids like streaming nick jr.

On 360 I can get my videos, music and movies streamed from my Windows Media Center server with no fuss or hassle and codec support is a non-issue. Not so on the PS3.

On the PS3 you're unlikely to get demos of the latest games whereas on the 360 you're unlikely not to.

PS3 seems to want to update itself every time I turn it on and thanks to the Sony servers that takes aaaaages..

And when actually playing online games the difference shows. COD bombed out of games a lot more on the PS3 than the xbox.

I'm not having a complete downer on PS3 - cross platform games seem to (mostly) run about the same on both these days and the PS3 has some nice exclusives. Blu-ray is also a big bonus. But for their online offerings you have to give it to the xbox by a very significant margin.

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FAIL

Nonsense

PSN has demos for almost everything these days.

Firmware updates arrive every couple of months, and take literally minutes to download and install.

If it bothers you that much, spend the equivalent price of Xbox Live on PS+ and have it automatically download firmware updates and download and install game patches every night by itself.

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FAIL

Umm. Nope.

No demos for 'almost everything' at all! GT5? The biggest release of the year on PS3? Nope. Just by looking, I reckon 30% of games at best.

"literally minutes" updating? You're having a laugh, unless you mean 60 minutes. It has taken me a full hour on occasion to do the updates. Not to mention the separate updates for home, piccy viewer, games, etc. Etc. All of which interrupt whatever it was you wanted to do at the time with a minimum 10 minute wait. Compare the two platforms. The MS updates download and install at least 10 times faster.

The PSN plus account gives you jack all because you already get the ropey online gaming for free; why pay on PS? some extra game demos, background updating and some undetermined free content? How is that worth it?

Get your head out of the clouds.

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IT Angle

laughing all the way to the bank

I find it amazing that people pay Ms to play on other peoples consoles.

I'd easily vote for Xbox live if all the games had dedicated servers. But they don't, so what are you actually paying for?

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Pirate

XBL Party feature

The party function on XBL requires an XBOX Live Gold membership. Silver members are unable to create or even join parties. They can still enter into 1 on 1 chat sessions or inter-game communication but for cross game functionality or multi friend partying, payment is required.

I still prefer XBL to PSN, but I've noticed the rapid improvements and catch up over the last year and PSN is beginning to stand out. But this is primarily because it is improving to compete with XBL. XBL is not improving to compete with PSN and so receives less commentary.

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XBL pay to play weed out chaff

I prefer XBL to PSN for the simple reason it weeds out the idiots who come on not to play but to annoy. That £40 a year more is worth it when you see the idiots on PSN.

Not that XBL hasnt got its share but more people are less likely to be complete idiots when faced with a band that can cost them money.

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two penneth

I haven't got either.. but am itching to get one to replace a very dust and never used ps2 under the telly.

I've got to say, as far as for me anyway, the ps3 looks like the best option. Mainly because I'm looking for a media player first and games thingy second.. so the addition of iplayer, with 4OD and ITVplayer (quite who'd want to stream that torrent of bile is beyond me) due this week, make the ps3 a no-brainer.

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WTF?

Web browser

Is that really a feature?

I dont know of anyone who would choose to browse on their ps3 or wii.

Most have a mac\pc and prefer it or if not then their phone.

the browser on a console is like 3rd to 4th choice for vast majority of people.

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Bronze badge

It depends.

Sure my PC is my first choice for web browsing. However its not always appropriate, typically if I can't sleep and want to do something other than lie in bed pointlessly. The PC is upstairs and the fans and clicky keyboard (proper keyswitches FTW) are likely to wake the girlfriend. Sure I could use the work laptop, but prefer my browsing done on my own machine. Phone, hmm its OK for websites with a mobile version, but being a small non-smartphone its a bit awkward for other stuff (though it does work). Which leaves the Wii, not the best experience due to the low resolution, but still quite useable.

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A rather broad and ill conceived statement.

"the browser on a console is like 3rd to 4th choice for vast majority of people."

As a family we use the PS3 browser regularly. From looking up holiday destinations, cinema timetables etc. And more recently showing a house full of relatives our wedding photos via our online album.

MUCH more comfortable than crowding round a laptop or passing round a phone for everyone to squint at. IMHO of course.... ;0)

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web browser

The web browser, among other things, is handy to view video. Not all video services have a console-specific app, but most video services have a Flash-based player. For example, you can stream Megavideo videos to a PS3.

Also, a console takes a whole lot less time to boot than a computer. Sometimes I don't want to wait 2+ minutes just to make a quick google search.

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Anonymous Coward

How quaint

Someone who switches their computer off.

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Unhappy

Just one caveat

If you use XBL, do not let them have your card info. Buy an annual sub card from play.com or amazon etc. Microsoft have a nasty habit of "forgetting" when you cancel, and trying to charge your card forever.

I ended up cancelling the card in the end, and then they just spammed me endlessly about failed transactions for a service that I had already cancelled. Sorting it all out took a couple of hours in queues to call centres on a couple of occasions- as the first time they said they'd stopped it all, they did jack.

So yes, XBL is probably the better service, but for the lobe of Bob, use a game card thingy, as MS are somewhat dodgy, and use the AOL charging model.

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One or the other...

Seems to me, that the only really choice there is to make, is whether or not you're willing to pay money to play online. And, as I have thus far fastidiously steered clear of any game that has required me to pay a retainer in order to keep playing, you'll know which platform I went for...

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Anonymous Coward

Happy to join in with the Fanbois :)

Well balanced article, and believe it or not not all 360 Users are evangelists of the system (I use both). A couple of point worth mentioning (I mention the 360 here, but just assume pro's for the 360 are cons for the PS3 and vice versa ;) )

(I'll also keep this related to XBL vs PSN, rather than comparing the HW as others appear to be doing!)

- *Nobody* pays £40 a year for XBL.... think closer to £30 for online codes, amazon / play etc etc.

- No mention of the family pack? centralised control of 4 accounts and cheaper than the price of 2 (can also control what the kiddies see!)

- The "apple approach" (i.e walled garden) to multiplayer means that any aspect of multiplayer is pretty much intuitive, regardless of the game.

- Dedicated servers are coming on XBL (Gears of War 3, for example)

- Last.fm is quite possibly the best thing in the world (admittedly you could get it via the web browser on PSN. but nowhere near as slick)

- The free videos / guides etc arent always relevant, but appreciated.

As the bad...

- No iPlayer on XBL due to f***ing politics.... BBC want it on non-gold accounts (so you are not paying to receive it)... MS say No. This is a massive annoyance.

- Any indie games (community made mega-cheap games) on XBL wont load unless you are physically connected to XBL as the time.

- System updates are *compulsory*.... no update, booted off live until you do matey!

- Recent update has made all videos go through Zune player.... bloody annoying.

Also, did I read the article right, Sony are starting to charge for system updates????

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The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

Sony are charging for a raft of features which include automatic updates. If you don't pay, you dowonload and install them manually. I don't know what kind of carrot that's supposed to be to get people to sign up, to be honest.

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PS3 updates still free

But the auto-update feature is part of Sony's "plus" program.

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