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Examining Xbox Live: What Do You Get?

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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

This chapter explains about Xbox Live and the different membership levels, earning achievements, accessing your account on other consoles, and how updates work.

In this chapter:

  • → Understanding Xbox Live Memberships
  • → Joining Xbox Live
  • → Redeeming Codes
  • → Paying for Purchases with PayPal
  • → Earning Achievements for Games and Media
  • → Accessing Xbox Live Gold Anywhere
  • → Connecting to Xbox on the Web
  • → Enjoying Xbox Live Rewards
  • → Understanding Updates

Xbox Live is a Microsoft service that enables online multiplayer gaming, access to various digital media and services, and system and app updates. It was first made available in 2002 for the original Xbox console and has evolved considerably since then, with new features added regularly, including expansion of the service to other platforms, such as computers and mobile devices. It is available both as a limited free service and as a subscription-based service with a wide range of benefits. Joining Xbox Live and maintaining an Xbox Live Gold membership is crucial to getting the most out of your console.

Understanding Xbox Live Memberships

The free Xbox Live service is known as Xbox Live Free (it was previously known as Xbox Live Silver), whereas the paid service is known as Xbox Live Gold, with the latter offering access to considerably more features and services, as demonstrated in Table 3.1. As a bonus, the same Xbox Live account works across other Microsoft platforms, including the Xbox 360.

Table 3.1 Sample Comparison of Features and Services Offered by Xbox Live Free Versus Xbox Live Gold

Feature

Xbox Live
Free

Xbox Live
Gold

Additional
Requirements

Avatar creation and customization

Yes

Yes

None

Bing

Yes

Yes

None

Downloadable games and game add-ons

Yes

Yes

None

Family settings

Yes

Yes

None

Free demos and game previews

Yes

Yes

None

Voice chat

Yes

Yes

Headset or Kinect

Xbox Video

Yes

Yes

None

Amazon Instant Video

No

Yes

Amazon Prime subscription

ESPN

No

Yes

WatchESPN-affiliated ISP

Game DVR

No

Yes

None

Hulu Plus

No

Yes

Hulu Plus account

Internet Explorer

No

Yes

None

Netflix

No

Yes

Netflix account

NFL on Xbox

No

Yes

Cable or satellite provider subscription

OneGuide

No

Yes

None

Online multiplayer gaming

No

Yes

None

Party chat

No

Yes

Headset or Kinect

Skype

No

Yes

Kinect and a Skype account

SmartMatch

No

Yes

None

Twitch.tv

No

Yes

Twitch.tv account

Upload Studio

No

Yes

None

Xbox Music

No

Yes

Xbox Music Pass subscription

Although an Xbox Live Gold membership makes many more features and services accessible to you on your Xbox One, several have additional requirements (for example, a Netflix subscription to access Netflix content). In addition, much of the digital content on the various digital marketplaces on offer is not free. For example, the only downloadable games that are generally free are ad-supported games or online multiplayer titles that offer in-game purchases. Making purchases from any of the marketplaces requires having an existing balance, using a prepaid card or code, or having a credit card or PayPal account on file. See the “Redeeming Codes” and “Paying for Purchases with PayPal” sections later in this chapter for more information.

You can purchase an Xbox Live Gold membership directly through your Xbox One, but you will likely save some money if you shop around. Check other retailers before you buy, such as game stores and online merchants. At Amazon.com, for instance, you can opt to purchase a card that contains a code that gives you access to Xbox Live for a certain amount of time, or you can opt to receive the code via email once you make your payment. If using a third-party retailer, just be sure to use one that is reputable, especially if you opt to receive your code electronically.

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