What Is Xbox Live Gold?

Here's What You Get When You Buy Xbox Live Gold

Xbox Live Gold Membership
Microsoft

Xbox Live Gold is the premium version of the Xbox Live service on the Xbox 360 and Xbox One. With it, you can not only play games against other people online but also get free video games and early access to game demos.

You only need one Xbox Live Gold subscription per console on your Xbox One, which lets everyone in the family play online multiplayer with their own accounts. In contrast, with the Xbox 360, each account has to have its own subscription.

What You Get With Xbox Live Gold

Xbox Live Gold supports the following features:

  • Play games against other people online
  • Use specialized matchmaking to play against users of similar skill
  • Xbox Live Parties are supported with Xbox Live Gold, which make it easy to move between games with a group, and chat with each other even between an Xbox One and Windows 10 computer
  • Get access to demos and other content earlier than Xbox Live Free members
  • Games With Gold gives you free games on Xbox 360 and Xbox One twice every month
  • Gold gives you discounts of up to 75% off games in the Xbox Store every single week

How to Buy Xbox Live Gold

You can subscribe to Xbox Live Gold by either picking up a subscription card at a retail location or using your credit card on your Xbox to set up an account.

Another method is to use your computer by joining Xbox Live Gold through this Microsoft link. The cost might change periodically but it's usually structured like this:

  • 1 Month: $9.99 USD
  • 3 Months: $24.99 USD
  • 1 Year: $59.99 USD

Tip: Keep in mind to use these price options strategically. For example, if you were to pay for Xbox Live Gold on a month-to-month basis for 12 months, it would cost around $120. However, if you buy the full year at once, the price is immediately around half.

Therefore, if you plan to use Xbox Live Gold for a year, you'd be better off buying a year up front. 

See How to Get Xbox Live Gold for Less Than $50 a Year to slash the regular price by several dollars a year.

Do You Need Xbox Live Gold?

You don't have to buy Xbox Live Gold to use your Xbox. In fact, you can play all of your games offline and never even need access to the internet.

However, even if you do connect to the internet, you don't need to subscribe to Xbox Live Gold. Maybe you only want what's offered for free.

Here's what you get for free on your Xbox without needing an Xbox Live Gold membership:

  • Play games before buying them by downloading demos directly to your console
  • Watch Netflix, Hulu Plus, Twitch, Crackle, Amazon Instant Video, and more on your Xbox
  • Install sports apps to watch your favorite teams directly through your Xbox, like NFL, WWE, ESPN, and NBA
  • If you have an Xbox One, you also get free HD Skype access that lets you video with friends even while playing games or watching TV
  • Also free only for the Xbox One is live TV. You can watch channels like NBC, CBS, and FOX with the Hauppauge TV tuner, or ESPN, AMC, and CNN with Sling TV