What Is Xbox Live Silver?

Xbox Live Silver morphed into free Xbox Live in 2010

Is Xbox Live free?
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Xbox Live Silver became the free version of the Xbox Live Gold service in 2010. This free version of the Xbox Live service includes groups, special offers, and access to Netflix, ESPN and HBO Go, features that were once available only to gamers with paid Xbox Live Gold memberships.

The main differences between the Gold and free Silver levels of service are that you can't play online multiplayer games with Xbox Live Silver, you miss out on members-only sales, and you don't receive free games every month. You can still download content from the Xbox Games Store and the Xbox Marketplace and keep a friends list so you can chat and share your gamer profile and achievements. 

Microsoft doesn't use the "Silver" designation anymore. The free service is called Xbox Live, while the subscription service is Xbox Live Gold.

Xbox Live and Video Apps

In the past, Xbox Live Silver users couldn't use apps such as YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, WWE Network, or much of anything else. That changed in 2014, and now you can use all of these video apps and more without needing an Xbox Live Gold subscription. You still need to pay any fees those services may charge such as a Netflix subscription, for example.  

The main thing free Xbox Live members can't do is play online multiplayer games with friends. Pretty much everything else on both Xbox 360 and Xbox One is now available to everyone.

It is important to note that your Xbox Live profile and subscription works on both Xbox 360 and Xbox One. It is the same account on both platforms. If you pay for Xbox Live Gold, it applies to both systems.  

Why You Should Consider Going Gold

While Xbox Live's free version has a lot to offer, particularly now that Gold isn't required for apps like Netflix, having Xbox Live Gold is still worth it even if you don't necessarily play online multiplayer games a lot. There are often sales and discounts available only to Gold members, and occasionally demos and game previews are for Gold subscribers as well.

One major perk Xbox Live free users miss out on is the Games With Gold program that gives Xbox Live Gold members free Xbox 360 and Xbox One games each month. Every month at least two Xbox 360 and two Xbox One games are available for free. In the past, the selection included "Tomb Raider 2013," "Crysis 3," "Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes," "The Deer God," "#IDARB," "Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag," and many more. In this sense, the Games With Gold feature practically pays for the entire Xbox Live Gold subscription.