The massive success of Activision's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 on the Xbox 360 platform is primarily due to users preferring to play the multiplayer hit over Xbox Live rather than Sony's PlayStation Network.
That's according to Microsoft's David Dennis, who said that even though Live charges users a subscription fee compared to Sony's free equivalent, it's considered the better online gaming experience.
"Having an install base around 8 million more than the PS3 certainly helps - but the main factor is Xbox Live," said Dennis of the Xbox 360 SKU outselling the PS3 version by more than 2-to-1. "If you're considering a multiplatform game like that and you're going to want to play online, you're going to want to go to where your friends are and, let's face it, most people are playing on Xbox Live."
"Consumers have shown that if you can deliver value they're willing to pay for a subscription service, beyond just what multiplayer brings with an Xbox Live Gold subscription. With things like Facebook, Netflix, Twitter and Last.fm, we continue to drive more value into what a Gold subscription brings to the table.
"For a lot of people, paying [USD 50] a year for multiplayer is fine, but for a lot of people they want more, so we'll continue to add more to that. But for the cost of a latte, with the depth and richness of what Live brings, I think people absolutely see value in what Xbox Live delivers, he added.
Nintendo's Wii may have once again outsold the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in November, but Dennis believes that Live is more important for industry growth, as it allows third-party publishers to reach a wider audience than they can on the Wii.
"I would argue that having a platform that's as great for third parties as ours is a better long-term proposition and more supportive of the industry at large than just selling a lot of first-party games for your platforms.
"If you slice and dice the NPD numbers out and look at the largest games for Xbox and the competitors, obviously we'd have some great first-party games in the top ten or twenty. You'd have games like Halo and Gears [of War] and those types of experiences, but obviously you'd also have Call of Duty Modern Warfare 1, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2, Call of Duty World at War, Left 4 Dead, Madden, Rock Band, Guitar Hero.
"What we're trying to do is build a platform and ecosystem on Xbox Live that helps third parties thrive and sell their games, and keep people coming back for more and engaged through downloadable songs, downloadable map packs, or non-gaming experiences that get people turning their consoles on every day."