Games

Hidden Costs of Xbox Live Gold

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Console Gaming at its Best

The Xbox 360 is one of the biggest and best video gaming consoles in the world.  More than 67 million of the consoles have been sold as of April 19, 2012 as prices have gradually come down over the years or stayed the same despite improvements in hardware and specs.  There is even the option to buy an Xbox 360 for $99 with the purchase of a 2 year Gold membership to Xbox Live, an agreement to pay $14.99 per month for 24 months.  This is probably a very good deal if you like using Xbox Live and downloading and playing games, songs, and HD movies.  But what you’ll actually be paying for in this case isn’t the content itself, but the right to use your Xbox to stream it.  You still have to pay for the premium streaming service through the company you choose. For example:  if you already have Netflix, and you want to stream it through your Xbox, this requires and Xbox LIVE gold membership.  Gold membership costs $14.99 per month through the Xbox Live store, but has been spotted on Amazon.com for $49.99 for an entire year.

Stream Your Netflix or Hulu?  Gold Membership Required.

Even so, why should you really have to pay Microsoft to use your Xbox as a device for streaming Netflix from the account you already pay for? The bandwidth you use when your Xbox is connected to external computers and networks is provided by your ISP, not by Microsoft, so bandwidth couldn’t be the explanation.  If network access and security are not issues, then why are users required to pay more to use Netflix on the Xbox 360 they have also paid for?

Another thing you can’t do without paying for a Windows Live Gold Membership is multiplayer online gaming.  This has been a sore point for Microsoft all along, a bone of contention between it and other popular consoles like the Playstation with its free multiplayer connectivity via its own network.  Microsoft’s pay to play model has been profitable nonetheless, as devotees to its many exclusive game titles such as the Halo series are granted access to a special section in the Xbox Live world called Halo Waypoint.  These special, original extras seem to be enough to keep memberships renewed month to month.

Another thing to watch for with Xbox Live Gold is the cost of additional content you may have access to.  For example, you may get the first chance to download new game content and new release movies – but they aren’t free, and often not even discounted, for Gold membership holders.  So, is it worth it to upgrade from Xbox Live free to Xbox Live Gold?  It is if you like to collect all the exclusive downloadable content you can’t get anywhere else.  Online gamers (and even those of us who prefer to go solo) can enjoy the extras so much that the answer is definitely “yes.”  You be the judge, and please leave us your comments.

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