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Get the most out of Xbox with Xbox Live and Xbox Live Gold

From unlocking gamer achievements to online multiplayer gaming, digital purchases, free games, and more, there’s so much to do on Xbox Live. Nearly every aspect of Microsoft’s various gaming platforms revolves around Xbox Live, which offers both free and paid subscription options. Here are a few key features of Xbox Live and Xbox Live Gold

What is Xbox Live?

Originally launching in 2002, Xbox Live is Microsoft’s online multiplayer gaming and digital media delivery service. While it has gone through a vast number of changes and updates over the years, its core function remains the same. Xbox Live manages players’ online profile and experiences in the Microsoft gaming environment.

Xbox Live account and profile

Players will be prompted to either log in or create a new free Xbox Live account when signing in to a new console or Microsoft gaming service. Creating an Xbox Live account entails choosing a “Gamertag”, which essentially serves as a player’s username across the platform, and which other players will see when interacting online.

An Xbox Live account will also track in-game achievements. This is a scoring system that offers points as a reward for accomplishing various tasks while playing. Each game has its own list of unlockable achievements, and the sum total of all achievement points earned is known as a player’s “Gamerscore”.

Xbox Live also provides access to the Xbox digital store. Here players can purchase full digital downloads of all the latest games, as well as other items such as in-game currencies, subscriptions, avatar items, movies, and more.

Xbox Live Gold

While a base subscription to Xbox Live is free, Microsoft also provides an upgraded subscription-based membership option known as Xbox Live Gold. Gold members enjoy all the amenities of Xbox Live with a large number of additional features and benefits.

An Xbox Live Gold subscription is required in for online multiplayer matchmaking and gameplay across nearly every title in the Xbox library. Gamers who want to play the latest online shooter or battle royale with friends and the online community at large will want to be certain to have an active Gold account.

Gold members also receive access to free full game downloads through the “Games with Gold” program. Players are gifted four new games every month, which will remain in their library as long as they are active Xbox Live Gold members. Gold members also receive exclusive deals and discounts on top of existing sale prices in the Xbox digital store.

Subscribing to Xbox Live Gold

A subscription to Xbox Live Gold can be purchased directly from the Xbox digital store by credit card, or through purchasing a prepaid subscription card online or at any nearby Best Buy Stores. Prepaid cards will contain a code that is redeemed through your Xbox Live account.

If paying by credit card, be aware that your Xbox Live subscription may be set to automatically renew when it expires. Some users prefer this as it ensures that their subscription never lapses, but others may be caught unaware. Automatic renewal can be turned on or off in the Xbox Live account settings.

Subscriptions to Xbox Live Gold can be paid monthly, or in three, six, and twelve-month increments. The average monthly cost decreases when purchasing longer terms, and as such it’s common for active players to renew their subscription yearly for the best possible deal.

Xbox Live cards

While an Xbox Live account can be linked directly to a credit card for quick and easy purchases, another option is to pre-purchase funds with an Xbox Live gift card. These are a great option for younger players who don’t have a credit card, or simply for anyone who would rather add funds without divulging their credit card information. An Xbox Live account and the funds stored in it work across all Microsoft platforms, including Xbox One, Xbox 360, and Microsoft Windows PC.

Xbox Live cards come in various denominations and can be purchased online or through any nearby Best Buy Stores. Once activated, the currency purchased can be added directly to an Xbox Live account Xbox by entering the code on the back. Xbox Live Gold subscriptions can also be purchased and redeemed this way.