Xbox is a great gaming platform with tons of great games. But if you want to go outside your Xbox and play multiplayer online games with other people, you need to subscribe to the Xbox Live Gold service.
Every month as an Xbox Live Gold member, you will also get free games, deep discounts on games, and a myriad of other benefits.
Xbox Live vs Xbox Live Gold
For those who are just getting started on Xbox, the services Xbox Live and Xbox Live Gold can be a source of confusion. What are they? How do they differ? And why do you need them?
Xbox Live is an online multiplayer gaming and digital media delivery service created and operated by Microsoft. It supports not only the Xbox platforms (Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Xbox Series S) but also a whole host of other platforms including Windows, iOS, Android, and Nintendo Switch.
Xbox Live is a free service, and you do not need to do a whole lot to get Xbox Live. Just connect your Xbox to the Xbox Live servers over the Internet and create an Xbox account. You will be able to use Xbox Live after that.
Xbox Live allows you to access the online services of Xbox such as:
Gamertag: Your Gamertag on Xbox Live is your identity there. It is, in other words, your Xbox Live username. It is how you will be known to other players there. Xbox Live users can send messages to each other based on the recipient’s Gamertag. Your Gamertag must be unique. It is possible to change your Gamertag – the first time is free, subsequent changes cost money.
Gamerscore: Your Gamerscore on Xbox Live is your track record there. It is an achievement point system. Every time you complete a game-specific challenge such as finishing a game level or amassing a specified number of wins against other players in online matches, you will earn Gamerscore points. Your Gamerscore is displayed on your Gamercard (see below.) There are also leaderboards that showcase the Xbox gamers with the highest Gamerscores
Gamercard: Your Gamercard on Xbox Live is your user profile there. It shows your information such as your Gamertag, avatar, Gamerscore, and recent games played. It is your public face shown to other Xbox Live users
Xbox Games Store: The Xbox Games Store is an online store where you can buy and download various Xbox contents such as:
- Video games
- Game Add-ons – extra maps, vehicles, weapons, songs, etc
- Game demos
- Gamer pictures
- Dashboard themes
- TV shows
- Music videos
- Movie rentals
What Xbox Live does not allow you to do is to play online multiplayer games with your friends or strangers. To do that, you need to subscribe to Xbox Live Gold.
What You Get With Xbox Live Gold
Xbox Live Gold is a premium subscription service that gives you all the features of Xbox Live described above, plus a few exclusive benefits:
Multiplayer Online Gaming: If you want to play a multiplayer online game such as Minecraft or Fortnite with or against other people, you need to be a member of Xbox Live Gold
Smart Match: Smart Match is a proprietary technology by Microsoft that plays matchmaking between Xbox Live Gold gamers. When you join a multiplayer online game, Smart Match will match you up with other players based on reputation, skill, language, age, and even gameplay style. That way, you will not find yourself in way over your head playing against someone much better. At the same time, you will not be getting bored to death by playing against someone much worse
Private Chat: Xbox Live Gold lets you send private messages to other gamers
Party Chat: You can also set up a group chat with multiple gamers
In-game Voice Communication: You can have voice chat with other players when you play multiplayer online games
Game Recording & Media Sharing: You can record your own gameplay and share your recordings with other gamers
Twitch Broadcasting: You can even set up a Twitch channel and broadcast your own gameplay to your Twitch channel – all from within Xbox
Games with Gold: With “Games with Gold”, you get free games. Every month, you get 2 free games as part of the benefits of your Xbox Live Gold subscription. Examples of free games include Little Nightmares and Dead Rising
Deal with Gold: With “Deal with Gold”, you get discounts for games. Every month, you get discounts on a wide variety of games on Xbox Live. The discounts are typically quite substantial, mostly in the range of 30% to 90% off. “Deal with Gold” is a great way to build up your game library for cheap
Early Access to Game Betas: with an Xbox Live Gold membership, you get early access to many games that are still in beta. This is a great feature if you like to be among the first to try out a new game before it is released to the general market
Is Xbox Live Gold Worth It?
Xbox Live Gold offers a large number of benefits. But it does come with a cost. The list price of Xbox Live Gold is $9.99 for 1 month, $24.99 for 3 months, $39.99 for 6 months, or $59.99 for 12 months. Luckily, there are ways to get Xbox Live Gold for cheaper, and we will get into that later on. But still, unlike Xbox Live, Xbox Live Gold is not free. So the question is – is Xbox Live Gold worth it?
The answer is, it depends.
Buy Xbox Live Gold if…
- You want to play multiplayer online games with other people
- You are interested in the free games offered by Xbox Live Gold
- You want to record or broadcast your gameplay
- You plan on taking advantage of Xbox Live Gold’s discounts on games regularly. Just the discount on a single game can more than cover the cost of 1 month of Xbox Live Gold subscription
Do Not buy Xbox Live Gold is if…
- You are happy with playing video games on your own Xbox without playing with or against other people
- You are not interested in recording or broadcasting your gameplay
- You are not interested in the free or discounted games offered by Xbox Live Gold
Benjamin is a certified financial advisor, with over 10 years of experience in the industry. He is knowledgeable about various business and financial topics, such as retirement planning and investment management. Ben has been recognized for his work in the financial planning industry. He has also been featured in various publications.