What is Xbox Live Gold?
If you have an Xbox and a broadband connection, then the only thing missing to make it the most complete gaming experience on the planet is adding on an Xbox LIVE Gold subscription. The Xbox Live Gold not only brings the most critically lauded and universally praised online multiplayer service into your living room, but it also brings you many additional benefits such as free games, massive discounts on online game downloads, web browsing, communicating with friends and a whole lot more. Lets take a closer look at the full benefits that the small investment in a 12 month LIVE Gold membership gives to owners of the Xbox 360 and Xbox One consoles.
The Ultimate Multiplayer Experience
Since the launch of the Xbox 360 way back in 2005, Microsoft has been incredibly focussed on delivering the best online multiplayer experience of any console in the marketplace. This led to a huge investment of time in the creation, upkeep and improvement of the Xbox LIVE online service. When compared with other competing online multiplayer consoles, such as Sony’s equivalent for the PS3 and PS4, the Xbox LIVE service is widely regarded as having a better interface, superior social aspects, the most seamless delivery of online downloadable content and many other features. Overall, it is just incredibly smooth, easy to navigate and allows you to challenge hundreds of thousands of other players, at any time of the day you choose, across a huge variety of titles.
What Exactly Is An Xbox Live Gold Membership?
Before we go into more detail on the outstanding benefits to be had from purchasing a Gold membership, let’s make sure you are absolutely clear on what it actually is. Essentially, Xbox 360 and Xbox One owner can pay a small amount extra per year to have full access to the amazing array of features that come with the Gold membership. If you want to play online in multiplayer matches and take advantages of a dazzling array of extra which truly add to the Xbox experience, then it is essential to sign up for a membership.
Are Their Different Xbox Live Membership Levels?
There are 2 levels of Xbox Live membership offered by Microsoft: Gold and Free. There is still a little confusion as what is offered as part of the Free membership level nowadays, used to be called the Silver member. The Free membership allows you to use basic online functions with your Xbox console, such as previewing games and downloading games upgrades to get rid of bugs, etc. It is significantly limited when compared with Live’s Gold membership level. However, recently Microsoft has announced that many of the entertainment apps which used to only be available to Gold level subscribers, are to be made available to those on the free level, too, as of June 2014. Still, if you want to get the most out of the experience of playing Xbox online, then Gold is the only way to go. With Xbox Live Gold membership codes available to reduce the price, as well as an Xbox Live Gold trial available which lets you use the full service for one month free of charge, there is no compelling reason not to sign up to the top-tier service.
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What Are Xbox Live Rewards?
Microsoft has built Live Rewards into the Live service, which is the mechanism through which it rewards players for completing certain achievements within games. Although this is also available to non Gold-members, it is worth being aware of for Gold members, as reaching certain targets and accomplishments can give you credits which can be used towards renewing your membership, thus making it cheaper!
Xbox LIVE Gold Advantages
There are significant benefits to paying the small annual fee for a Gold membership. In fact, when compared overall value delivered to the console owner, roughly a few pounds per month fee is miniscule.
Here are some of the most important LIVE Gold benefits you need to know about:
Try Out Demos For Free
One of the most frustrating (and expensive) things about gaming is occasionally you may not like playing a game that has been given really good ratings by the mainstream review sites. This can be annoying as you can end up shelling out over £40 for a new release, such as Watchdogs, only to end up being disappointed and wishing you hadn’t bought it. With the Xbox LIVE Gold service you are able to download demos of a huge number of Xbox 360 and Xbox One games for free. This means that you don’t have to buy any games in the future unless you have tried them first and are sure you are going to enjoy them.
Premium Content Downloads
During the previous generations of console gaming, a frustrating experience that many gamers encountered was buying a new game to then have an awesome time playing it, only to find themselves at the end of the game far too quickly. Xbox Live Gold solves this problem by giving its subscribers access to additional content which can be downloaded to extend the gaming experience for far longer. Examples, include first person shooting games (like Halo 4) gaining new maps and action-adventure style games benefitting from entirely new scenarios to be played through.
Multiplayer Games Against Players Of Your Own Level
Playing against real human beings in ultra-fast and silky smooth online multiplayer games is probably the most satisfying and addictive gaming experiences anyone can have. No matter how realistic computer game developers manage to make the artificial intelligence (AI) of the players you play against in single-player, it will never be quite the same as playing against real people. However, playing multiplayer against real humans being a superior gaming experience, there can often be too big a gap in playing level between skilled players and those merely starting out on their online gaming adventure. Fortunately, the Xbox LIVE service uses a system called the Trueskill Matchmaking system, which ensures that you will be placed in matches against people of a similar level.
Xbox Live Game Downloads
One of the best reasons to buy Xbox LIVE gold is to take full advantage of the fantastic range of games that Microsoft makes available to download as part of your paid membership. These included games are known as ‘Games with Gold’ and are a great way to expand your collection of games without having to spend any additional money. These titles, which would normally be sold for more than the price of an Xbox LIVE Gold Membership, are available for a period of around two weeks, after which time they will be removed and new titles will become available. Popular titles that are, or recently have been, available as part of the Xbox Live game downloads include Max: The Curse of Brotherhood, Gotham City Impostors, Dark Souls and Super Street Fighter 4. These are high-quality titles that gamers pay good money to own. Being able to play these for free with an Xbox Live Gold Subscription is just another example of the great perks that Microsoft has worked hard at including.
Huge Discounts On Full Games
As a subscriber to the Live’s Gold service, Electronic First can offer significant discounts on some of the world’s best games. What’s more, you will be able to download the heavily discounted games instantly and will not have to traipse down to your local computer shop or wait days the disc to arrive in the post. The discounts offered as part of the Gold service are known as ‘Deals with Gold’ and change every week. As an example, recently as part of the ‘Deals with Gold’ service, you can instantly download the highly rated game ’Thief’ for the Xbox One, at a discount of 40%. Similarly, the deals for the Xbox 360 are equally as impressive, with 8 different Xbox Arcade titles being offered at sizeable discounts. Obviously the ease with which games can be bought with Live Gold’s discount service means you have to be careful to avoid buying too many as impulse purchases; however, if you take time to choose the titles you want to buy, it is definitely the best way of snapping up high discounts.
Broadcast and Show Off!
Have you ever played amazingly at a game and wished you could share your impressive gaming skills with others, such as your friends and family? Thankfully, with an Xbox Live gold subscription, you get access to premium tools which makes it effortless to do just that! As a Gold level subscriber and Xbox One owner, Microsoft provides you with ‘Twitch’ which allows you to share your greatest multiplayer battles with other gamers. In addition, you have access to ‘Upload Studio’ which lets you transform your greatest Xbox One gaming moments into personalized movies for others to view and admire!
Comparison With Playstation’s Multiplayer Service
For a long time, there has been a strong rivalry between the 2 main consoles and their online multiplayer gaming services. In recent years, it is fair to say that Sony has made some considerable improvements to the online gaming they offer, which used to lag Microsoft’s by a long way, and was pretty much a poorer gaming experience in every way, except for its free price tag. That has changed significantly as Sony has implemented changes, however, Xbox Live Gold still remains the premium console multiplayer online gaming experience by quite some distance.
Both the Xbox One and the Xbox 360 have fewer outstanding single-player only gaming titles and, as such, the emphasis for both has been on creating a thrilling online environment for gamers to thrive in. There are massive numbers of gamers participating in all the major online titles throughout the day. Numbers can peak at well into the high five figures for popular multiplayer games such as Call of Duty and Fifa.
Furthermore, the standard of play on the Xbox Live network tends to be higher and more professional. It also tends to be easier to find people to play against if you are playing less popular niche gaming titles. When having a break from competing, it can be wonderful to sit back and view one of the high-level multiplayer games swinging into full action, with top players from all around the world competing. You will see epic action and be able to improve your performance by studying the top players, too. Most of all, you will feel like you are part of a vibrant and growing gaming community. All thanks to your Xbox Live Gold membership!
Signing Up To Xbox Gold Live
You can easily sign up to the Xbox Live Gold service. You can buy a 3 or 12 month membership code and then use the code to activate your membership. By shopping with Electronic First, you can usually secure significant savings over most of the major retailers. Another option is to sign up to the 48 hour trial for a nominal fee and see whether you want to pursue a longer and more cost effective membership.
The Xbox Live Gold service has set the standard for all other online multiplayer and entertainment services to follow. Other services may be gradually catching up, however, Live Gold is still the only place to be if you want the fastest, most seamless and best integrated service possible. If you either an Xbox 360 or an Xbox One console, then you simply have to take out a Live Gold subscription. It will give you hours of gaming fun and an amazing online social experience.
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