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Xbox Live South Africa: Are we getting what we pay for?


South Africans first received Xbox Live over four years ago, on the 10th of November 2010. I remember how excited we were about it since we petitioned for it since 2007! Upon launch, Microsoft offered all existing South Africans the opportunity to migrate their existing, largely UK or US based, Xbox Live accounts to the new South African service. Microsoft also gave users 800 or 1600 ms points when they moved to the South African Xbox Live service within the first month. Some four years later and the South African Xbox Live service is still lagging behind the international standard.

Marketplace Games, South Africa needs more 

The South African Xbox Live service enabled users to stop using false billing and physical addresses to create accounts. When the service launched, users therefore had the choice to migrate to the South African region. There was , however, a slight divide in the existing community as some users opted to continue using their UK/US based accounts, which had far more content available to download compared to the newly established South African Xbox Live service. 

The South African service launched with far fewer games available. The limited selection meant that users purchased a majority of their titles from local retailers, which offered a bigger selection.  

The list of available games on the South African Xbox Live marketplace has seen some improvement on the Xbox 360 in the past two years. The list of games on the console now extends to 693 titles and 200 arcade games. That being said, the comparison between the US and South African marketplace shines a light on how much potential content locals are still missing out on. The US Xbox Live marketplace currently holds over 1200 titles and 630 downloadable arcade games on the Xbox 360.

Taking a look at the Xbox One we see a very similar pattern. The Xbox Live Marketplace currently has a total of 75 games available for download, whereas the US marketplace is sitting at three times as many, with 230 titles.   

The lack of digitally available titles on both the Xbox 360 and Xbox One is a concern for both Xbox South Africa and local gamers. According to the PWC annual entertainment and media outlook report, SA online purchases and digital downloads will increase by at least 18% in 2015. You can read more about the report here and here.

Reasonable Marketplace Pricing

When we compare SA’s price to the of the US service, we see a much brighter picture. Xbox Live is currently available for R50 per month, where the US service is currently sitting at $9.99, which is around R120 per month. An annual subscription will set you back R590, whereas the US 12-month subscription will cost you $59.99, around R720.  Let’s take a look at the pricing of digital games on both the US and South African marketplace:

US Market Place

South African Market Place

As you can see, recent releases for local Xbox 360  games are priced cheaper than the US counterpart. And this remains consistent with a large portion of the titles available on the console. The Xbox One prices, on the other hand, seem to fluctuate between the South African and US Xbox Live services. Unlike the Xbox 360, the cost of digital titles slightly leans in favour of US marketplace.


The South African Xbox Live service offers far less content than its US counterpart, when it comes to games and applications. Digital downloads should be the main concern, as there is constantly content being added to the US marketplace, whereas the South African service seems to be falling behind.

Some may say that we are paying less for the service, so we should expect less content. I, however, tend to disagree. We are paying for a service that needs to be held to the international standard, especially when updating content is a benefit for Xbox Live and its customers. 

Are you happy with the content available on Xbox Live? Let us know of your experiences thus far. You can do so by commenting below or hitting us up on Facebook or Twitter.

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Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not MWEB Connect (Pty) Ltd

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