Xbox Live has been around for pretty much the entire lifespan of the Xbox console, and Xbox Live Gold is the more premium version of it. And while it has gone through changes and growing pains over the years, it’s been there to deliver a more robust online experience to gamers on the Xbox platform. You can access it from older Xbox consoles, and even the new Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. Unlike Game Pass, Xbox Live Gold and Games with Gold are specifically designed for use with the Xbox consoles.
These days, if you want the best online gaming experience that you can possibly have on Xbox, you want Xbox Live Gold. But, what exactly is Xbox Live Gold? We’ll break down the ins and outs of the service in this handy guide. Attempting to leave no stone unturned so that no one goes into subscribing without knowing any important details.
We’ll also update this post from time to time if there are any major changes to the service.
What is Xbox Live Gold?
Xbox Live Gold is a monthly subscription service for Xbox console owners. In many ways it’s akin to what Sony offers with PlayStation Plus.
You pay a monthly fee and in turn Microsoft gives you some cool benefits that will enhance your gaming experience with the platform. You will need Xbox Live Gold to play multiplayer games online. Just like with PlayStation Plus.
And you will also get free monthly games to download to your console and play. These are called Games With Gold. So long as your Xbox Live Gold subscription is active. Lastly, you also get special Gold discounts on games and other content that you can download for your Xbox console.
These are discounts that aren’t given to players who don’t subscribe. And if you play a lot of games on Xbox and download them digitally from the store, you definitely want this service. If you want to play multiplayer games online. You definitely want this service.
How many games do subscribers get for free each month?
This will vary, but it seems to be from one to three games on average. It will not always be the same amount of games every month either.
Sometimes the games given out for free are newer titles. Other times they’re indie titles that weren’t that much to begin with. The point being that it’s important to stay on top of which games are being given out every single month. And it’s even better to know the moment Microsoft confirms the lineup. So you can avoid buying something that you may be getting for free soon.
If you’ve got the Xbox app installed on your smartphone, you can usually find out what the games are from this app.
Do I ever lose my Games With Gold?
No. If you claim any of the games while they’re available for free, they’re in your library forever. The only time you won’t have access to them is if you cancel your Xbox Live Gold subscription.
But they’ll be playable again when and if you re-subscribe.
What games does Xbox Live Gold offer?
As mentioned above it will vary from month to month. As of this writing, the free games in the Games With Gold offer are Darksiders III, Yooka-Laylee, Lost Planet 3, and Garou: Mark Of The Wolves.
The dates for when these leave will vary by game title. And not all of them arrived at the same time. For instance, Both Lost Planet 3 and Darksiders III were available on August 1. And while Darksiders III will be available until August 31, Lost Planet 3 is only available until August 15. So just a few more days.
One day later though, on August 16, you’ll get access to Yooka-Laylee and Garou: Mark Of The Wolves. The former leaves September 15, while the latter leaves August 31. So make sure to claim your games by these dates. Or you lose out on getting them for free.
Do I need to install the games to claim them?
No. All you need to do is claim the game and it’ll be there until you decide to install and play it. You can install it if you like to have all of your games readily available at a moment’s notice though.
This would save you time after all, as you wouldn’t have to wait for the install down the road when you decide to play something new. So it’s at least worth considering installing games right when you claim them even if you don’t plan to play those games right then and there.
Again though, if you don’t install them right away you won’t lose them. As long as you claim they will be in your library for good.
What kinds of discounts do I get with Xbox Live Gold?
This will depend on the time. Right now you can pick up games like Ghost Recon Breakpoint, Legends of Eternal, The Surge, V-Rally 4 Ultimate Edition and others at varying discounted prices.
Ghost Recon Breakpoint for example is 85% off right now. So if you were interested in that title and have an Xbox Live Gold subscription, now is the time to pick it up. Lest you have to pay full price down the line.
How much does Xbox Live Gold cost?
You can subscribe to Xbox Live Gold in four different increments of time. One-month subscriptions, three-month subscriptions, six-month subscriptions, or annual subscriptions.
Obviously the cheapest up front will be the one-month subscription. But there is more value in going for the longer offers. As they’re priced to make it less per month than simply subscribing month by month.
Doing month by month gives you more control and the knowledge that you weren’t wasting any money if you were to ever cancel. But If you are certain you will be utilizing the membership every month for a set period of time, you’re much better off subscribing for a longer period of time. Because you save money in the long run.
One-month subscriptions will be $9.99, three-month subscriptions will be $24.99, six-month subscriptions will be $39.99, and annual subscriptions will be $59.99.
Sometimes these will go on sale and you can pick up subscriptions for cheaper than normal. So it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for sales on the annual membership. As sometimes you can find them on sale for less than the six-month membership.
Can I get Xbox Live Gold for free?
In a sense, yes. If you subscribe to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, then this includes a free membership to Xbox Live Gold in addition to everything else it offers.
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate comes with a growing library of over 100+ games that you can play at no additional charge beyond the membership price. These rotate in and out so they won’t always be the same. But you can play them on your Windows 10 PC or on your console. And if you have an Android smartphone or tablet, you can even play them through the cloud on those devices.
On top of all that, you also get discounts and other perks. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate does cost more though. As it’s $14.99 per month. However you can get the first three months for $1 if you’re a first-time subscriber.
Free play days
Yet another perk of Xbox Live Gold is free play days. Just like with Stadia and its free play days for Stadia Pro members, here you’ll get the chance to play certain games for free during the period of time they’re part of this perk.
These will only last for a weekend, so you get three or so days maximum to check them out. After that you need to buy them if you want to continue playing.
Microsoft also holds multiple free play days throughout the month. So keep an eye out for what’s free on which weekend to see if you’re interested in the games on offer.