Xbox Live South Africa : The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

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With today’s earlier announcement that Xbox Live South Africa has finally gotten a solid release date, gamers are pretty jubilant.

Now that the unicorns have ridden away on their magic rainbows, and the pixie dust has settled, let’s take a look at the benefits and deficits of local Xbox Live.

The Good

The overwhelmingly positive news is of course, that we’re finally getting Xbox Live; and soon, too. This will help with locale based matchmaking games, ensuring we play with those in relative proximity, ensuring a lag-free, smooth online experience. It also means there will be far more south Africans on Xbox Live, as many people are unwilling to jump through the hoops necessary to connect to Xbox Live at the moment.

Hopefully, this’ll eliminate the multiplayer “bubble” that exists, where multiplayer games remain popular locally for about two weeks, before people default to old stand-bys like Halo, Call of Duty and Gears of War.

Also, with confirmation that gamers will be able to migrate their Xbox Live UK and US accounts to ZA  – keeping their Gamertags, collected gamerscore, MS points and remaining Gold subscriptions in-tact. There is, however, a caveat;

The Bad

At the present time, after migrating your account, you will no longer be able to download games, music etc tied to your account. They are actively working to get around that restriction, so the content you’ve paid for becomes available to you again – but take that as a warning. Until it’s sorted, post migration, if your 360 dies you won’t be able to re-download the content you’ve paid for. Here’s what the official FAQ says on the matter :

Q: Will I be able to re-download purchased content after migration e.g. games, videos, music and apps?

A: Our goal is to allow members to re-download all of their purchased content after migrating accounts, and we’re actively working to address this. However, at this point in time, once you migrate you will no longer be able to re-download content. Members should re-download purchased content to their hard drive or USB flash drive prior to migrating.

The Ugly

And then there’s the pricing. The local retail price for 12 month Gold subscriptions will be a whopping R599 compared to the US price of $49.99 (R345), and UK price of £39.99 (R438). MS Points are a little more reasonable and will retail at R299 for 2100 points, a little more than the UK RRP of £25 (R273). Evopoints, for example, sells their worldwide 12 month subs for R399.

There’s also the fact that for the time being the service may be slightly gimped. Additional services like Twitter, Facebook, Netflix, Zune and the like won’t be available for South African accounts at launch, but are expected at some point.

There exists a host of pros and cons, and the decision over whether or not to migrate will require lots of thinking. Still, there’s no reason to dwell on the negative. We finally have Xbox Live – and that’s something to shout about.

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Geoffrey Tim

I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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