If you’re an Xbox gamer, you’ve probably come across Xbox Live Gold before. The service was much more popular during the Xbox 360 days, but it remained active throughout the Xbox One era and has made it into the Xbox Series age as well. The option for subscribing to Xbox Live Gold can be pretty well-hidden within the Xbox UI or online, though, and there’s a good reason for that. Let’s take a look at exactly what Xbox Live Gold is and whether it’s worth subscribing to it in 2023!
What exactly is Xbox Live Gold?
Xbox Live Gold is effectively Microsoft’s online play service. If you want to play online with friends (excepting certain games), then you’re going to need an Xbox Live Gold subscription. The service also gives you access to exclusive discounts on the Microsoft Store, as well as other benefits, which we’ll come to a little later. Suffice it to say that if you’re an Xbox gamer, then an Xbox Live Gold membership is pretty much essential to have, especially if you want to enjoy all of the facets of your Xbox gaming experience.
How do I subscribe to Xbox Live Gold?
If you want to subscribe to Xbox Live Gold, then you can do so from your Xbox console’s interface. You should see an option to sign up to Gold within the console’s HUD, so click that and follow the procedure, setting up payment if necessary. If you’d prefer, you can also subscribe to Xbox Live Gold online via your web browser. It costs £6.99 a month to sign up for the service, so make sure to cancel automatic billing if you don’t want to subscribe for more than one month.
Are there any games available on Xbox Live Gold?
Technically, yes. You can get access to games on Xbox Gold (or Xbox Live Gold, as it’s usually called), but the games offered each month aren’t usually big hitters; Microsoft prefers to save those for its Game Pass service, which we’ll talk about in a moment. However, each month, you can get two games with Xbox Live Gold. The service used to offer 4 games, but recently, Xbox 360 titles were dropped from Games With Gold, so now, you’re only getting two Xbox One games each month instead.
What is the history of Xbox Live Gold?
The Xbox Live network made its debut all the way back in the days of the original Xbox console. It launched in 2002, one year after the console first arrived, and offered the chance to keep all friends on a unified list, as well as using the same handle across all of the games you played. Both of these features have, of course, now become standard across online gaming, but at the time, they were relatively new.
Xbox Live Gold arrived alongside the Xbox 360, becoming a paid service that gamers would need to sign up for if they wanted to play online alongside their friends. It was a somewhat controversial move at the time; Sony’s PS3 did not require a paid online subscription to play online, so Xbox gamers felt they were being given the short straw in this regard.
Originally, it was necessary to have an Xbox Live Gold subscription in order to play free-to-play games on Xbox consoles. However, Microsoft dropped this requirement in 2021, so you can now hop onto games like Destiny 2 and Apex Legends with your friends without needing an Xbox Live Gold subscription. This brings Xbox to parity with PlayStation, which also doesn’t require a PS Plus subscription for playing with friends.
Is Xbox Live Gold included in Xbox Game Pass?
In a word: yes. If you have an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription, then an Xbox Live Gold membership is bundled in with that subscription, so you don’t need to subscribe separately to enjoy online gaming. Bear in mind, though, that if you only have Xbox Game Pass and not Ultimate, then you aren’t a Live Gold member. If you have an Xbox, though, Xbox Game Pass is pretty much a no-brainer, and you may as well make the upgrade to Ultimate if you’re going to be playing online alongside your friends a lot.
This is also likely to be the reason that Microsoft’s Games With Gold offerings have become less impressive in recent years. It’s because Microsoft wants to encourage gamers to subscribe to Game Pass, which has a much bigger and more well-rounded library of AAA games and indies alike. If you play games on Xbox consoles or PC regularly, then a Game Pass subscription is almost essential at this stage, especially given the value offered by Ultimate and Xbox Live Gold.
So, after all that, is Xbox Live Gold worth signing up to?
Your mileage will, of course, vary on this, but in our opinion, a standalone Xbox Live Gold membership is not worth getting in 2023. There just aren’t enough benefits to the service on its own to warrant the cost; while you get access to online gaming and discounts, the games offered as part of the service are somewhat lacklustre. Instead, you should sign up for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate if you plan to play games online on your Xbox. This way, you’ll also get access to the vast Game Pass library, and all of Xbox Live Gold’s discounts, games, and other benefits can still be yours.