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Rift widens between Silver and Gold XBLA memberships

Kevin Kelly

Xbox Live's Major Nelson announced on Wednesday that the newest Gears of War trailer was available online ... to Gold subscribers only. This marks the first time that exclusive XBL content has been delayed (not denied) for the free Silver members, and it's just the tip of the iceberg. Nelson commented on his blog entry after mixed reaction from readers, "So here is the deal ... Silver members WILL get access to this ... probably in about a week. This is going to happen more and more (Gold getting things before Silver) so you may want to think about upgrading if you want all the latest and greatest trailers, demos etc."

It's not really a big deal at this point, because the trailer was available online within seconds of appearing on the XBLM. The real problem starts when Gold members start getting demos and downloadable game content before Silver members do; perhaps, eventually, the Silver members won't get them at all. Microsoft will find themselves treading a fine line between how much a Silver member will put up with not having, and how much a Gold member needs to feel justified in paying the cost for their features. It's important to note that this trailer is most likely a trial run by Microsoft (through Major Nelson) to see how things go, since it's not even true "exclusive" content. Nelson (can we just call him Larry, already?) admits that this is the same commercial played last week at X06 Canada. So where's the real super exclusive platinum fanboy stuff, eh?

The point is that Microsoft is finally treating the Gold level like what it is supposed to be, a step above the Silver membership. Silver members don't pay for anything; it's a free service meant to provide an "introduction" to XBL. Gold members pay for additional features and, with it, they expect some perks to be delivered. While it's limited to trailers right now, expect to see it expand to demos, downloadable content, and anything else Microsoft can think about leveraging for more subscribers to make the jump up to the next tier while their model for microtransactions seems to be falling apart with the inmates running the asylum.

And just because we love you, check out that Gears trailer after the jump in SD, or click here for the HD version.

[Thanks, E.J.]

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