Xbox Live in South Africa

3 min read

This gets quite lengthy so get your coffee first…

As you are all acutely aware we still do not have official Live in South Africa, there was a petition and a strong community drive for it a few months ago and we even got an official mass media response from Microsoft.

However things have dried up since then. I have received countless enquiries online and through email about what is happening with Live in South Africa. Just to let you know that I have constantly been hassling Microsoft South Africa about this to make sure that they don’t forget.

However at the moment there is still nothing to report. In my last correspondence with them I asked why they cannot just give us a scaled down version of Live? Basically just allow us to continue exactly as we are doing but just with the option of choosing South Africa as our home country and to be able to buy Microsoft points and subscriptions in Rands.

The main part of their answer is….

This will only happen when we have a Live offering and the infrastructure required to manage the service and deliver an experience Microsoft is satisfied is consistent with the service users in other parts of the world enjoy.

A diluted Live service is not an option at this point

I am holding onto the “this point” part because until Telkom and our Government sort out the telecommunication problem in this country I don’t see us getting Live.

Oh and that Telkom ITPV rumour that did the rounds a while ago..

The rumours of the tie in with Telkom are just that and premature until we get any form of go ahead from Microsoft Corporation around an official launch

Read into that what you will…

So for now we have no dates or anything of great interest coming out of Microsoft about Live in South Africa. Fear not though I will continue to hassle them about it…

South African Players
A few people have also been asking how many people in South Africa are on Live? Well we can’t really say for sure. However according to (MGC) 2 179 people have selected South Africa as their region on the console itself. However some of these people do this so they can be close to the top of a countries leaderboard (yeah pathetic I know) and a lot of South Africans on Live have chosen the UK or USA as their country of origin, wrongly thinking this is what Live looks at when you connect.

I think it is safe to say we have a minimum of 2000 people on Live.

2000 * R70 p/m = R140 000 per month… that is the bare minimum that we are paying Microsoft every month for the pleasure of playing on Live. With nothing being returned… annoying isn’t it.

But wait it gets better. As I am sure you are aware India is the most recent country to receive Xbox Live so lets see how many people they have registered according to MGC… 472 or 1/5 of what we do…

So why did they get Live and we didn’t?

1. Cheap Internet Access Costs – Thank Telkom for holding us back here
2. Over a billion people – That is a huge driver
3. Large amount of Indians working for Microsoft. We really do need to start getting some South Africans into those corridors of power in Redmond.

So what can we do about it? I really don’t know…. Any ideas are more than welcome. Though I do think we need to make sure we are not forgotten. Remember that Microsoft South Africa really want us to get Live so sending them hate mail is pointless, rather send it to America 😉

Last Updated: November 2, 2007

Gavin Mannion

I for one welcome our future robotic overlords

  • hilt_ctn

    That was good coffee

    As per usual. Hellkom to blame. I’ll bet that R140k would be sucked up in a flash by some useless pipe Telkom (that they consider to be a leased line ) to a ZA Live Site

  • Killer1973

    I can understand MS international’s concern. They want the best for all of their xbox gamers worldwide and they will not make a commitment to us until our service providers come to the party!

    I want live bad and im sure that veryone else wants live bad so come on telkom wake up and take us to the next level!!

  • Bob

    “This will only happen when we have a Live offering and the infrastructure required to manage the service and deliver an experience Microsoft is satisfied is consistent with the service users in other parts of the world enjoy.”

    The usual Microsoft BS. They should be called on it, it’s basically just smary PR talk for ‘we couldn’t be arsed.’

    I’m confident that anyone with an XBox Live account and an ADSL line is already enjoying a service “consistent with the service users in other parts of the world enjoy.”

    “The rumours of the tie in with Telkom are just that and premature until we get any form of go ahead from Microsoft Corporation around an official launch.”

    They’ve already announced in a Telkom press release that there’s a pilot project underway – so who are they fooling?

  • scrumpyjackson

    “A diluted Live service is not an option at this point”
    Um am I missing something? What do we have now?

  • Gavin

    I agree we could benefit from Live in this country, but to be honest apart from the odd content block and the inconvenience of having to pay in foreing currency, getting live in this country would not resolve much. The nature of our broadband still means that playing with international players (in my opinion one of the big drawcards for live) would be a bothersome experience, regardless of whether live is officially supported here or not. I love getting online with the local guys to play some multiplayer, but if we had Live officially suppported here how different would that experience be? Potentially nil, the actual gameplay experience would be unaffected, so really all we would get would be the elimination of the (occasional!) content block, and the ability to pay in local currency.

    just my 2 cents

    Still would be nice to have Live officially supported though

  • Lydon

    Being able to connect to local servers will mean that we will be able to use Local internet accounts, which are far cheaper than International ones…unless I’m under the wrong impression?

  • LazySAGamer

    @Bob, that Telkom trial does not include the Xbox 360 as a set top box unless I am mistaken. They are just trialling IPTV

    @Scrumpy, we currently have no Live at all… We are connecting ‘illegally’

    @Gavin, We would benefit from being able to use our local credit cards again, no content blocks and the ability to download movies and TV shows. But yeah apart from that not much else

    @Lydon, I would be very suprised if they ever installed local servers. Our country just doesn’t have the required amount of players and it’s not like our neighbours are going to lend many users either

    If any of you lot use Digg please digg the article, the more media coverage this gets the better our chances….

  • CodeMonkey

    In April, Rikus Matthyser, the strategy and ops big-shot at Telkom Media spoke to the Financial Mail about the plans ahead for TM.

    Two statements from that interview seem relevant:

    * IPTV: This service will provide both linear broadcasting content and video on demand using broadband digital subscriber lines (delivered over ADSL2+). It will be interactive and offer additional channels to those offered on the satellite platform. The system will be based on technology supplied by Microsoft and content will be protected using digital rights management schemes. The platform will also be made available to Internet service providers who want to build their own bouquets.

    * The Web: Here Telkom Media wants to add value for broadband users by offering services such as Web TV and music and video downloads. Online games and user-generated content will also form part of this offering. It’s not immediately clear whether Telkom’s restrictive bandwidth capping policies will be lifted to make this service possible. Given that the content will be hosted locally, Telkom may decide to end its policy of capping local bandwidth.

    If I were a betting man, I’d bet the next 6 months’ beer money that Live will become available soon after Telkom Media launches their services.

    Full article can be read at:

  • @ CodeMonkey, its nothing but speculation. Unless you are given hard facts you can’t say for sure.

  • Burns ZA

    Please explain how Telkom are responsible? We have ADSL which is more than enough for local games, hosting is succesfully achieved on 4meg lines, even 512k lines get it right.
    Our problem is latency, and not speed. That has got more to do with our geographical position, and replacing the cable is not going to happen anytime soon.

    I’m not defending Telkom but Microsoft surely can’t use that as an excuse.
    Maybe I do not understand the whole framework issue, so someone can enlighten me if I am off the mark.

  • LazySAGamer

    @Burns, it is all down to the cost of Bandwidth in South Africa…

    If they put a server here it would be astronomically expensive and if they hosted overseas we couldn’t afford to download the movies, which means our Live will not be fully functional

    If I hosted this site locally I would be forced to pay around R5000 per month for bandwith (and be petrified of a story being popular). Since I host in Florida (USA) I pay R55 and at worst it is going to cost me R110…..

    That is 100% Telkoms fault.

  • doobiwan

    I think the affordability question isn’t valid anymore. You can get 1Gb ADSL 384 for R169 a month, 3Gb for R270, that’s definitely affordable for someone who can afford to buy a 360 and pay R500 per game.

    I understand “They want to do it right” but right by them is very different to right by us. We don’t expect the earth we just want to play.

  • A server such as Live requires a super fast connection, faster-than-T3-speeds if I am correct which is faster than our current 4mb offerings, and who is the only service provider to provide such services? Telkom and at a high premium too.

  • Sean

    To be honest I am very disappointed by MS. I actually didn’t know that Xbox Live wasn’t avail in SA when I bought my box (couple of months ago). I am only a casual gamer but the thought of playing xbox games like Halo 3 with an online community attracted me to the console. I completely disappointed that I am not able to access Live from here.

    In fact, it sucks balls. I wish I didn’t get my console now. I reckon I should probs sell it and buy a nintendo wii – at least i can have lots of fun playing a wii without a net connection.

    Thanks MS, for making us South Africans feel real special. Don’t you love how African countries are always at the bottom of the food chain?

  • Jonathan

    Maybe we could lay some sort of ASA complaint against any advertisements or mention of online play with any Xbox360 game. Force them to play big warning stickers on the game and hardware packaging and any advertisements that are aired, to clearly stipulate that any multiplayer aspect within the game is “NOT SUPPORTED”.

    That sort of negative publicity may light a fire under Microsoft’s butt to try and organise something?

  • LazySAGamer

    Hmm that is a very good idea… I wonder if we have a leg to stand on there?

  • Lydon

    I think it’s worth a try. Whose going to do the honours?

  • Jonathan

    Just had a look on the ASASA website, the filing looks fairly simple.

    The ASASA does include provision for complaints regarding packaging. So, I’m going to check my original packaging and game boxes to see if it included any information with regard to online play.

    Anyone seen any billboard/point of sale/poster advertising for xbox hardware or software that mentions multiplayer?

  • LazySAGamer

    I don’t have a game in front of me but you could check to see what they say about mutliplayer on the back of a game box?

  • freaQ

    Regarding the IPTV thing, note that Telkom is listed as a client of Microsoft’s Mediaroom which is Microsoft’s rebranded IPTV solution.

  • doobiwan

    My question is do you want to tempt fate? What if you win and out of compliance with the ASA’s ruling they remove it from the box and also ban ZA IP’s from any form of Live?

    I think this may be a case of discretion being the better part of valour.

  • LazySAGamer

    Ah but could you imagine the media uproar we could cause if that happened?

  • Burns ZA

    I think there is small print on the box and on games that Live is country dependant. Legally they have themselves covered.
    You could argue that the ‘small-print’ is just that – and they may be forced to increase it’s size but I doubt it.

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