The Benefits of Buying Xbox Live Gold

The differences between a free Xbox account and an Xbox Live Gold subscription

Xbox Live Gold is the premium version of the Xbox Network service on the Xbox 360 and Xbox One. But, is it worth the extra cost? We break it down for you.

One Xbox Live Gold subscription is needed per Xbox One console, which lets everyone in a family play online multiplayer games with their own accounts. In contrast, the Xbox 360 requires each account to have its own subscription.

Xbox Live Gold vs. Xbox Network

Xbox 360 and Xbox One consoles allow you to create a free Xbox Network account (this is the same thing as a Microsoft account). The basic service allows subscribers to access online multiplayer features in free-to-play games, download items from the Microsoft Store on Xbox, chat with friends one-on-one or in groups, and use popular entertainment apps like Netflix. It also provides access to apps like Skype, and OneDrive.

Xbox Live Gold subscribers get all the basic perks, plus a few extras, including:

  • Access to online multiplayer for all games
  • Discounts on digital titles at Deals with Gold
  • Quicker access to demos and betas
  • Free games at Games With Gold

Xbox Live Gold is not the same as Xbox Game Pass, Microsoft's streaming games service. With Xbox Game Pass, subscribers can play more than 100 games anytime for a monthly fee.

What Is Deals With Gold?

Deals with Gold is included with an Xbox Live Gold subscription and it offers weekly discounts on select Xbox One and Xbox 360 titles, add-ons, and more in the Microsoft Store. The savings typically range between 50-75% off.

What Is Games With Gold?

The Games with Gold program is also included in an Xbox Live Gold subscription, and it offers free, hand-selected titles every month. Microsoft claims these deals are worth up to $700 per year.

Xbox Live Gold Membership graphic

On Xbox One, new Games with Gold titles become available on the first and the 16th day of every month. Once they are redeemed and added to your library, they're playable as long as you maintain an active Xbox Live Gold account. If you cancel, you lose access to them. But, if you renew your subscription, the games become playable again.

How Much Does Xbox Live Gold Cost?

Xbox Live Gold currently offers three pricing tiers:

  • One month: $9.99
  • Three months: $24.99
  • One year: $59.99

To join, pick up a subscription card at a retailer like GameStop or Walmart, or sign up for an account online at the Microsoft Store or on your Xbox console.

Picking a pricing tier depends on how you plan to use the subscription. For example, if you plan to use Xbox Live Gold throughout the entire year, paying for the 12-month subscription up front will save money. If you pay on a month-to-month basis for 12 months, it costs around $120, while the 12-month subscription costs $60. But, if you plan to play a new multiplayer game for a month or two, consider one of the other pricing options.

There are ways to get cheaper Xbox Live Gold subscriptions. Microsoft sometimes includes free trials with new consoles and games. It also occasionally offers “Try Gold For Free” promotions in the Microsoft Store. Plus, retailers like Best Buy and Amazon often sell subscription cards at a discount.

Is Xbox Live Gold Worth It?

You don't need Xbox Live Gold if you're happy playing games offline. You can still try game demos, watch Netflix or Hulu, access Skype, and more. But, if you want to play multiplayer games, Xbox Live Gold is a necessity.

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