This is really more about the paid online service that comes with the Xbox and specifically, how it works with one game.
Specifically, in this case, Borderlands.
In order to start a multiplayer game of Borderlands on the PC. I had to remember my GameSpy account. And that was a pain. Then there was something that I had to do on my end, either placing my game machine temporarily in the DMZ or port forwarding. Then there was the bit where I had to double check windows firewall rules and it still didn’t work. Eventually we figured it was the GameSpy network itself, because a couple of hours later, it was working.
I know it’s not the same, but the ability to send an invite in game and then just have the other person pop in is worth the $50 a year to me. When I want to start playing a game with my friends, I don’t necessarily want to spend a half hour troubleshooting connectivity issues before we even get started. That’s what makes the xbox live work so well is the drop in and drop out functionality. When you send an invite, it’s the same method for each and every game you play. You hit the jewel, see if your friend is online and send the invitation. They accept it.
I remember when that half hour troubleshooting was the first part of playing video games with your friends. The half hour was spent was setting up the computers and configuring them to use the same network. Additionally, they were all in the same room you were playing in. None of this headset stuff, you just yelled at them for camping the spawn.
Or better yet, actually walked over and threatened bodily harm.
Ah, the good old days.