What Is the Xbox Network?

Xbox Network is free for all players

The free version of Xbox Network, previously known as Xbox Live Silver, includes features that were once only available to gamers with paid Xbox Live Gold subscriptions. Microsoft dropped the Xbox Silver designation and now offers free Xbox Network and paid Xbox Gold memberships.

Information in this article applies to the Xbox Network service for Xbox 360 and later. Xbox Network was discontinued for the original Xbox.

Free Xbox Network Features

After you log in to your Xbox console and connect with Xbox Network, you must create a profile and a Gamertag. After that, you can take advantage of the many features that come with your free Xbox Network membership:

  • Enjoy music, sports, and premiere entertainment apps.
  • Use Microsoft Edge and Skype on your TV.
  • Earn achievements and improve your Gamerscore.
  • Preview upcoming games.
  • Access beta versions of games.
  • Make a friends list.
  • Download games and other add-ons from the Xbox Marketplace.
  • Exchange text and voice messages with other Xbox Network users.
  • Join a gaming community.
  • Party chat with other Xbox Network members.
  • Play multiplayer in free-to-play games.
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Your Xbox Network account is the same as your Microsoft account, so you only need to remember one login.

Xbox Network vs. Xbox Live Gold

While Xbox Network provides everyone with the aforementioned benefits, playing online requires an Xbox Live Gold membership for most games. Other benefits of Xbox Live Gold include exclusive demos and members-only sales, while Microsoft's Deals With Gold web page features discounts of up to 75 percent off for select games, add-ons, and other items.

Every month, the Games With Gold program offers Xbox Live Gold members free games. In the past, the selections have included Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, Hitman: Blood Money, Rayman Legends, Halo 3, Gears of War 3, and many more. The Games With Gold feature practically pays for the entire Xbox Live Gold subscription by giving you hundreds of dollars worth of free games throughout the year.

Your Xbox Network profile and subscription works on Xbox 360 and later. If you pay for Xbox Live Gold, it applies to all systems. 

Xbox Network Streaming Apps

In the past, free Xbox Network members couldn't use video streaming apps such as YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, WWE Network, Twitch, or VUDU. Now, those apps are available to everyone, though you still must pay any fees that individual services charge.

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