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Xbox Live 12 Month Subscription Plan

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Premium Gold Pack includes: 3-month or 12-month Xbox Live Gold Membership; an Xbox 360 Headset for voice communication; an Xbox Live Arcade game; and Microsoft Points which you can redeem for downloadable content in Xbox Live Marketplace.

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    42 Reviews
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      02.03.2013 13:50
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      Why pay $60 a year for a service that is free everywhere else?

      In recent years the console market has seen a shift in focus from a pure gaming platform, to something with a more generalised overview of entertainment. The PS3 is currently leading the way in this trend, but that won't stop Microsoft stepping up to the plate and challenging them for supremacy.

      The Xbox Live Gold service is their chief tool in this regard. Xbox Live led the online console gaming revolution of the last generation, but can Microsoft continue this dominance through to the end of the current generation? Well the sales of Call of Duty and other online games seem to indicate that Microsoft still has the edge, but for the life of me I cannot understand why.

      Currently Xbox Live is split into two services. A silver account is free and allows you to download demos, trailers, and upgrades to games at your leisure. Upgrade to the Gold account however and a wealth of extra options become available to you.

      Obviously the chief focus is on online gaming and for this the service is pretty stable. If you play against an opponent with a decent internet connection then you should be able to avoid too much lag in even the fastest paced games. Unfortunately there are many people playing with a less than average internet connection (or are downloading things on another device while they play) and this interferes with your gaming experience.

      On the flipside of the coin you can find your experience hindered by the people you play against. Squeaky voiced Pre-teens from a variety of countries will hurl abuse at players whenever they do not get their way. This can often take on the form of racism; or other similarly prejudiced remarks, that are very uncomfortable to hear. Virtually all of them will involve an obscene level of bad language! These kids; who technically shouldn't be playing these adult rated games, can really make the experience uncomfortable even when their abuse is not aimed at you directly.

      Fortunately you can choose to either turn your microphone off completely; which lessens your own experience, or play against a select group of friends. Since the biggest selling point of Xbox Live is that you can play against everyone then this is a frustrating decision to make.

      Outside of the field of online gaming Xbox Live Gold will also open up a wealth of entertainment options. Once subscribed you will be able to download aps for Love Film, BBCI Player, Netflix, Youtube, and other media streaming services that you may or may not have to pay an added subscription to.

      - The packs -

      The service provided from these packs is quite simple. Entering your credit or debit card details into a console is a risky endeavour. Your unit could conceivably be hacked and your details stolen. Also if you need to send in the console for repairs (a frequent thing with this console) then the repairman will have access to these details. Finally, if you have children, then the risk of them pressing the 'more points' button is very real as your cards are charged automatically you have them stored.

      With these packs you can avoid all of these problems by popping into a local store and buying the service directly from a trusted merchant. They will sell you a small scratch card that contains a unique code. This code is all that you need to enter to activate the service, and your card details can remain safe. The cards are generally the same price as buying the service directly through your Xbox (excluding offers either way) and so I see no reason not to buy them.

      You have two options for the cards (Could I really justify writing a review for each???); a 3 month subscription with an RRP of £17.50 or the card I am reviewing here. A 12 month subscription to the service has an RRP of £39.99 which seems a lot but will save you money if you are committed to the service. If you're just trying the service out then go for the cheaper option, but if you are determined to keep playing then stick with the full price subscription. A lot of people come to my store every three months and it really baffles me to be honest.

      Unfortunately it's at this point in the review where I state that I can no longer be bothered with Xbox Live Gold. I find that the kids are more prevalent on Xbox360 than other consoles, and I'm not sure what is supposed to make Gold such a good service. PCs, Laptops, tablets, mobile phones, and even Blu Ray players are capable of doing all of the entertainment features without charge. It pains me to pay £40 a year on top of my Lovefilm/Netflix subscription so I don't see that as a sales pitch. Plus the PS3 has all of the same services and has the online gaming, but does not charge for any of them. Despite what people often claim that PS3 online games have always been as stable as Xbox Live for me and so I don't understand why it is the preferred method to pay for the service???

      - Re-Released packs -

      The current Gold subscriptions have been re-released and are now sold inside basic card sleeves. The artwork is not exactly eye catching with a basic Green and White design, but it's safe to assume that anyone buying a pack knows about them anyway. However the card sleeves are a life saver. The scratch cards were previously shipped inside DVD cases, which resulted in a lot of wasted plastic. Now all you need to dispose of is a little card and cellophane; which is much better overall.

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      09.02.2012 16:35
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      Renewing is the easiest purchasing decision I have ever made!

      @@@ What is Xbox Live? @@@

      Xbox Live is a service provided by Microsoft, which allows Xbox users to connect their consoles to the internet and join a worldwide network of fellow gamers to play, share and communicate together. The service allows you to play games with or against fellow gamers from all corners of the world. From the comfort of your own home, you can chat to friends who are sitting in the comfort of theirs, whether they live round the corner or on another continent.

      @@@ Online Console Gaming @@@

      The phenomenon of online console gaming has exploded over the past 5 years. Previously, online gaming was reserved for PC users, and the only way you could play multiplayer games on a console was to have friends round to your house, or cart your console and games around to other people's homes.

      With the massively increased uptake of broadband internet connections in recent years, online gaming is a realistic option for most console owners, and has become integral to their playing habits. After tentative initial steps, Xbox Live has grown to become one of the major facets of what Xbox gaming has to offer.

      @@@ Membership @@@

      If you have an Xbox 360 console and an internet connection (preferably broadband) Xbox Live is accessible to you. When you turn on your Xbox and create your personal profile, you can sign up for a free 'Silver' account and get access to some of the basic features; you can find, add, and communicate with friends, download additional content for your games, and so on.

      'Gold' membership, on the other hand is a paid service, and opens up a world of options. In many ways, a Gold account can be likened to a golden ticket to Willy Wonka's factory - a magical world where all your chocolatey dreams come true! A Silver account on the other hand is just a license to stand at the locked gates, straining to see what's going on inside, knowing your friends are having an amazing time, but all you can do is stand their salivating....

      So Silver is relatively pointless, and if you want to be able to play games online, join parties with friends, and engage in other assorted funs, the Gold account is the way to go. The 12 month subscription plan is in my view the best way of accessing Xbox Live Gold. It is the longest term you can purchase, and at around £40 (the price of a game) it results in the most cost-effective membership. A 3-month membership is around £15, and that wastes a great deal of cash in the long run - if you're not sure about whether you want to join, many Xbox games come with a voucher code for a free 48-hour Gold trial - why not suck it and see!?

      @@@ Interface @@@

      The appearance and interface of Xbox Live changes regularly, and I'm not a massive fan of the way the latest iteration looks - maybe I just don't like change. Having said that, the system has always been uncluttered, intuitive and very easy to navigate, which makes using it very fun and simple. Even when you're in the middle of playing a game, you can use the central button on your game controller to bring up a mini menu, and access all of the major services, including chatting with friends or sending messages.

      @@@ Gaming Online @@@

      Playing games online is the primary reason for having an Xbox Live account. Personally, it gives me the opportunity to shoot and kill friends (and strangers) without the fear of devastating legal implications. In fact, some would argue that the main draw of games like Call of Duty and the Halo series is their online multiplayer component - they would be nowhere near their current popularity levels if you couldn't team up and take on opponents from across the world.

      The quality of the actual gaming experience is down to the game's developers and thus can vary massively; each individual game has a tailored online offering, and in this sense, Xbox Live just provides a platform for the game developers to create the online experience they want to. My personal online favourites include the Halo series, (where I can play through story missions with a couple of friends on co-operative mode, or join in to multiplayer battles with up to 15 other random players from round the world), and FIFA (where you can take on a friend or be set up against a stranger in a 1-on-1 football match or even an online league system).

      @@@ Communication @@@

      Although my main motivation for purchasing Xbox Live was to play online and get more out of my games, I have now come to almost depend upon it for a different reason - communication. About 2 years ago I moved away from home, and away from my childhood friends; Xbox Live allows me to keep in touch with them, to have regular contact and enjoy the same shared hobby, even though I am hundreds of miles away. It also allows me to connect with friends from university who live all over the country, and even with friends who have moved abroad.

      It's important to mention at this point that the Xbox headset and microphone are an absolute must for me. They allow you to have a 1 on 1 conversation, or to join a 'party' and effectively enter a free and unlimited conference call with several people at once. I can quite happily sit and play for hours with friends while we chat together. You can also compete with friends, and compare your progress in various games.

      Along with social media, which fosters this kind of communication, Xbox Live is a great tool for me to stay connected with people. A small bugbear I have on this front is the Xbox controller. Whereas a headset and microphone is included in most Xbox bundles, you can get a small 'QWERTY' keyboard which attaches to the controller as an additional purchase. Without that, you have to type any messages on an on-screen keyboard, using the joystick to move a cursor round the characters. Typing like this is very laborious and frustrating, but I'm yet to be compelled to shell out the extra money for a tiny little keyboard.

      @@@ Social Media @@@

      Speaking of which... Xbox Live comes complete with MSN Messenger, and is now integrated with Facebook and Twitter as downloadable free 'Apps'. The Xbox dashboard acts as a hub for you to manage your accounts on these sites and speak to people who aren't necessarily on Xbox live. This is a brilliant edition which expands the offering massively.

      @@@ Music & Video @@@

      Being 'connected' is not just a social thing, and not everything on Xbox Live is communication and friend related. The service also gives you access to a strong (and growing) range of media options. There are free apps for Youtube (allowing you to search the site and watch videos just as you would on a web browser), Channel 4 OD (so you can catch up with TV shows you've missed, and watch various series from the vaults) and more.

      You can access Netflix, streaming online movies and TV shows, Zune for streaming music, and if you have a Sky account, you can watch Sky TV through your Xbox! It really does give you access to a steadily growing world of entertainment avenues at your fingertips.

      Needless to say, you can also purchase Microsoft products on Xbox Live, including games, expansion packs for games, and so on, as well as watching trailers for upcoming games. Thankfully, there is no intrusive advertising on the platform, which was a very real danger. It is very easy to sign in and get straight into a game or a conversation with your friends without being exposed to loads of aggressive marketing. Needless to say, when you use an app, or watch a movie, you are then fair game, and will have to sit through the odd trailer or promo, but it's totally understandable.

      @@@ Security and Families @@@

      Parental controls are an essential consideration for Xbox Live. Gaming is a hobby for all ages, and the number of young people getting involved in online games in increasing, which is great. However I feel great care should be taken as to what content they are exposed to. I do find there is an element of hypocrisy involved here - I have often encountered young gamers playing games online which are clearly unsuitable for their age group, whilst parents will start to point fingers if their child is exposed to unsuitable content. If you are going to buy your 12 year old son a game with an 18 certificate and access to an online gaming community, you don't really have a leg to stand on if he is exposed to bad language, graphic violence, or anything else unsavoury. Parents - exercise some control, just as you would over X-rated movies.

      Nevertheless, it is important for parents to have the option to protect their children, and Microsoft have included good parental control options, as well as a blocking option to stop you from encountering people you don't want to, and a reporting system if people are behaving unsuitably. This system is very easy to use and effective in rooting out troublemakers.

      @@@ Overall Thoughts @@@

      The Xbox Live Gold 12 month plan gives 1 year of access to a brilliant array of online gaming, media and communication, for a very reasonable price of around £40. For the price of one typical game, you can unleash new possibilities in almost all of your Xbox titles, chat for free with friends, and take on players from all over the world. The interface is neat and easy to use, and the process is slick. As long as you have a decent internet connection and obviously an Xbox, there is a very entertaining set of possibilities at your fingertips. My annual renewal of my membership is one of the easiest purchasing decisions I've ever had to make, allowing me another year of fun and games with good friends.

      Thanks for reading! I'm also on Ciao :)

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        03.01.2012 21:08
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        Buy a PS3 and get free unlimited Online play

        @ About @

        I bought this card when I first bought my Xbox 360, and since then I have had numerous problems. I generally dislike Microsoft's products and this is no exception. Since my first year of Xbox live I have ceased gold membership, and refuse to buy it again. I still use Xbox live silver, and any free Xbox live gold memberships I get with games. But I wouldn't pay for it.

        The first thing you should know is that Xbox live is around £40 a year. And for that you get to download a terrible new Xbox Dashboard, and the ability to pay for games online. You will also be able to play online, join parties and watch movies online. All of which can be done on the PS3 for free infinitely.

        @ Online Gaming @

        When gaming online players often complain about server crashes and lag, and I myself have experienced lag on the Xbox live service in racing and FPS games like call of duty. The lag normally means the player flies about the map uncontrollably and the game becomes unplayable. In some cases you are completely kicked from the game.

        The other problem with the lag is messaging and voice on Xbox live. If you send a message to someone it sometimes has a loading screen appear as soon as you hit send where the network is thinking about it before it sends. Voice messages are similar, and voice chat has a delay of up to 6 seconds. All of the time it is at least 3 seconds.

        Online gaming lets you have up to 18 players in one match in some games and you also have voice when gaming online to talk to other players. Very helpful for tactical planning with your team mates but the language and trash talk from other members it's somewhat excessive. I certainly would not let any child use Xbox live since there's so much language and things they can pick up.

        Xbox live has a very strict banning service where if any player accumulates enough complaints they are automatically banned. Which is unfair since any players could just submit loads of complaints about one player because they dislike them, and they would be banned. Microsoft don't look into the banning and it is done automatically. Bans range from 24 hours to permanent.

        @ The dashboard @

        On Xbox live you do get a variety of services to use such as last.fm and sky but these services are limited. To paid sky subscribers only for the sky tv app and the last.fm is free, but is a randomised playlist. So you won't get the artist you search for for more than one song, then you get songs related to it, not by the same artist.

        You can purchase arcade games on the dashboard but in my opinion, you could buy the ones under "games on demand" much cheaper. I found that Mafia II from games on demand was £19.99 yet brand new online as a hard copy you can keep, was about £15.

        @ Overall @

        Again I have to recommend getting a PS3, the service is poor considering the price, and that's just it right there, it's £40 a year (or more if you buy in smaller live subscriptions) I can't see how this is a good service and I certainly would not recommend this for children, there is a lot of material and online activities which I don't think are appropriate. Even the parental controls can't quash all of them.

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          01.11.2011 15:06
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          A fantastic subscription for the Xbox Live Gold service.

          === The product ===

          This is a 12 month Xbox Live 'Gold' subscription that allows you to use the Xbox Live 'Gold' service for 12 months. This is cheaper, generally, than the purchase of a 1 month or 3 month subscription, however, you may occasionally find deals available on the smaller plans which could save you a little money based on the per month price. In the past couple of years the subscriptions have been updated so you, generally, now receive a credit card sized card with a scratch off code contained within a card game case style packet. This is wrapped in cellophane so you can ensure that your product has not been tampered with or used before you purchase it.

          === The price ===

          The price of this is generally around £35.00-£40.00 per month but I have been paying around £30.00 in the past couple of years thanks to waiting for offers and shopping around before my previous 12 month subscription runs out.

          === Overall opinion ===

          This subscription allows you to access the Xbox Live 'Gold' membership offered by Microsoft for the Xbox 360. You are then able to chat and play games with friends. You can also access Facebook, Twitter and numerous other applications now available on the Xbox 360, you can even use a Sky Player to watch Sky channels and programs online as part of your Sky subscription.

          The first thing that usually springs to mind when gamers talk about the Xbox Live 'Gold' package is that you have to pay to use it whereas Sony offer a similar experience on the Playstation 3 that is totally free, however, I would say that the 'Gold' package is definitely worth paying for, mainly because most of my friends prefer an Xbox 360 to a Playstation 3. Also, I usually pay around £2.80 per month, based on a 12 month subscription at the price I pay, and I think this is fantastic value for money to be able to chat and play games with my friends whenever I like, day or night.

          I feel that this membership opens up many different possibilities. Without it I would be able to take part in certain activities but would not be able to chat live over microphone with friends and this adds a huge benefit to any multi-player game to me. This subscription enables me to take part in multi-player games such as the Halo Reach one which I have played almost daily for the past year as I am a huge fan of it, this membership enables me to chat with friends and talk strategy when playing games as well as use Zune to stream films and Last.fm to listen to music from my Xbox 360 completely free. I save money purchasing the 12 month plan as opposed to the 1 or 3 month plans and quite frequently there will be game related bundles where you can receive a 12 month subscription and something else related to a game, such as a Call of Duty 3 T-shirt for just a few pounds more than the price of a normal 12 month subscription. In addition to buying the subscription in store it can be purchased online, by credit or debit card, through the 'Xbox Dashboard' and while this may be a little more expensive it also allows you to automatically renew your subscription each year and providing you log on to your Xbox or your e-mail regularly you will see a warning that your subscription is about to expire and it will inform you when the payment is coming out next.

          All in all I love the Xbox 360 12 month subscription. I can play games, chat with friends, update my Facebook or Twitter status, watch selected Sky channels, stream films (charges apply) and even listen to music free of charge. This makes the package fantastic value for me and both my husband and I will continue to buy this in the future.

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            16.09.2011 19:39
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            Xbox Live is great but a little expensive

            Xbox Live is an online service you can use on your Xbox 360. There are two type of Xbox Live memberships available which are silver and gold. A silver membership is free for all Xbox 360s and a gold membership will cost you but offers a lot more than a silver membership.

            *Silver memberships*

            An Xbox Live silver membership lets you try game demo's for free, Download game content and add-ons, Stream HD movies, create and customise your avatar and chat and text your Xbox Live friends.

            *Gold memberships*

            An Xbox Live gold membership lets you do everything a silver membership does and also lets you play games with friends online, watch Sky Sports, Sky Movies and lots more, Chat face to face with video kinect, use Facebook and Twitter, Listen to Last FM and unlimited music with Zune Pass.

            I've been an Xbox Live gold member for 3 years and the service is usually fun, fast and easy to use. There are lots of videos to watch about all the new games, new game add-ons, music festivals and gaming festivals. They have new and exclusive offers on arcade games and game add-ons every month for gold members. Every now and again there will be free content to download such as music videos and arcade games. You can watch most of the Sky channels as well but you need to have a Sky TV subscription. I haven't got a Sky TV subscription so I don't know how good it is on Xbox Live. Last FM lets you listen to music if you sign up an account with them and Zune lets you listen to music from lots of different artists.

            Overall Xbox Live Gold offers a better online experience than Playstation 3 and Wii but you have to pay for Xbox Live Gold and it isn't cheap. A 12 month Xbox Live Gold membership is available at HMV, Argos, most game stores and big supermarkets and costs £40. You can also buy a 3 month Xbox Live Gold membership at £15 but if you buy more than 2 of these a year it works out cheaper to buy the 12 month membership.

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              12.09.2011 03:57
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              Its great fun but you get a ms shafting for £35 each year

              Xbox live fills out millions of peoples lives and helped transform and yet ruin many peoples social lives. Xbox live is an online service where games with access to the internet can play games with other games all around the globe. When you have xbox live you can download games from a online market place and buy add ons for games you own using ms points (read other review for details) but best of all on many games such as call of duty you and many friends can meet up and duke it out for bragging rights.

              Due to the popularity of xbox live and games in general now due to the excellent quaility that come straming out of companys online gaming is big bucks for companys like microsoft that to be frank are not exactly as poor as some of the users that use the service. The reason why i bring this up is beacause playstation owners who have exactly the same service just obviously for a differant console do not have to pay anything where xbox users pay about £35 depending where you buy your subscription from for 12months online service. it is possible to buy a cheaper subscription but due to the cost of doing that you would end up paying microsoft was more in the long run so you just grin and bear it and pay your money each year.

              i doubt xbox live will ever be free or even capped cheaper say £15-£20 (who agrees?) a year would please so many people while still lining microsofts pockets with untold amounts of money anyway while perhaps regaining trust and confidence for the god knows how many people who had to put up with the error problems and red rings of death, mind you my fixed xbox was sent back with a one month xbox live subscription but it was the second time it happened (i know many who have had more) and being microsoft you would expect a computer to work.

              While xbox online is a marvel, great fun and a good way to have fun with your mates and others server issuses do arise but i dont think no matter what happens with the systems being kicked annoyingly out of games and timing out, problems with NAT settings and many more xbox are on such a winner with online gaming i doubt too many people will be upset enough to change

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                28.08.2011 21:11

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                A must have for all xbox gamers

                Buying a subscription to xbox live is a must do for any gamer. If you play regularly or even just now and then you need to have a gold membership to live. This means that you get so much more out of your console and games, most games nowadays have online features which maximise your gaming experience. I find with most games I play such as Call of Duty and Fifa that online play is the best part of the game, playing competitively against your friends and other gamers around the world. To play online, you must have a subscription to xbox live gold, other features of having a xbox live subscription include : demo's, videos and one of the best features of xbox: party chat (allows you to talk to up to 7 other friends through the headset). There are many options for how long you want the subscription, some games include a 48 hour code for xbox live in the packaging. You can pay for a months subscription, 3 months, a year and in some cases you can buy years membership that come with a free extra months. The subscriptions can be bought as a code instores, online or even straight from the xbox on the marketplace, however it is more expensive.

                However, considering your only paying for a years membership, the price does seem rather expensive priced in the £30-40 region. Also taking into account that there is no charge for online services on the Playstation 3 although I've heard that the xbox servers and online experience is much better than the Playstation network. It is slightly annoying that you have to pay to play online on xbox, its almost as if microsoft believe we are not paying enough for the console as it is and still need more money. It also is a bit of pain having to renew the membership every year.

                Overall this is a must buy for any xbox owner, it will maximise your gaming experience and you will get more out of your xbox and your games.
                Hope this has helped.

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                02.05.2011 19:35
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                The best option for signing up to XBL

                Quite simply if you own an Xbox 360 you must sign up to Xbox Live (XBL) to maxmise you gaming potential. With the cost of an Xbox and Xbox games quite pricey, simply playing offline campaigns will give you almost zero satisfaction compared to online multiplayer games. For anybody who has never played a game on XBL, every new game these days comes with an online mode in which you can play against friends, against strangers from literally all over the globe, with friends against strangers, or even with friends against other friends. Whilst at the same time being able to chat to them and hone those tactics! Once you get your first tast of online multiplayer, you will never want to have to do without it again, and simply playing offline campaigns will never be good enough.

                In order to sign up to XBL you have a only a couple of options. One is to sign up via your Xbox dashboard providing it is connected to the internet. Signing up for 12 months, 3 months, 1 month, or 1 month repeat subscription. The latter being very frustrating if you want to cancel it. The 3 month and 12 month subscriptions can be bought in shops.

                The 12 month comes in an identical case to that of which Xbox games come in, and inside comes a small card, the size of a credit card. Once you scratch the security strip off, you enter the code into your xbox dashboard and select to use it. Thats it, nothing else to do for 12 months.

                Add that to the fact it works out cheaper to sign up for the long term rather than keep signing up every month or 3 months. Then it really is hard so see why you wouldn't go for the 12 month option. But now you have a choice of doing it online or buying it in a shop. I suggest getting the code from a shop, as I know for a fact that removing your credit card details from the Xbox hardrive can be difficult, and have even heard stories of people forgetting to clear the details when they sell their Xbox or hardrive, and thiefs using their details. For this reason I feel it'snot worth the risk just in case, and to just buy it physically.

                The 12 month plan is avaialable in all the obvious places; GAME, Gamestation, HMV, Amazon, Argos, Currys etc. Pretty much anywhere you would go to buy a console or a game, will also sell XBL subscriptions.

                Price wise, you can expect to pay £40. At first it may seen quite steep, but when you consider you will have to pay £5 for a month of XBL Gold, then there is a £10 saving to be had over 12 months - not a huge amount - but still worth it. Plus the added benefit of not having to worry about it for a whole year, and not running the possible risk of identitiy theft; then it really is by far the best option.

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                29.03.2011 15:58
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                A great service by a giant of the computer systems world run efficiently and smoothly

                The Xbox 360 is one of the most popular games consoles of all time. Xbox Live is an online multiplayer gaming system primarily but also has a digital media service all provided by the computer operating giant Microsoft. There are two different levels to Xbox Live, the free of charge version is known as Silver and the subscription based service is known as Gold.

                Firstly, I just want to make it clear that there are services which (unsuprisingly) you can only get on Gold and therefore have to pay for. The two levels share some services such as the use of the xbox live dashboard to chat to other users via the voice chat option, users on xbox live silver can also watch trailers, create their own gamecard profile and download content. This is a fairly limited list of options hence in order to really utilise Xbox Live and gain use of all its content you need to upgrade to Xbox Live Gold.

                Xbox Live Gold can be purchased for a years membership at about £35 or if you want shorter outlay a 3 month contract is about £12. The official Xbox 360 Wi-fi receiver can be bought with a one off payment of around £50. This is well worth doing so the console can pick up wi-fi connections whereever you move it to and you don't need to mess around with cables.

                The big question that is always fielded against Xbox live is why should I pay for it? The Playstation 3 and Nintendo Wi have free online gaming options so why should Xbox customers have to pay? The reason is because the Xbox Live system is better than the competition hence it is worth paying for.

                With the gold version of Xbox live you can play against other people online. This is a fantastic option because playing against other people rather than the computer makes the game a lot more unpredictable and even more competitive. It is not just random selection of course, on Xbox Live you can add friends and therefore you are alerted when they are online. This makes it easy to join together to play games. Xbox Live operates something called a "Party" one user starts this party and then other friends and indeed friends of friends can join the party and you can move this party straight into a game which is a great option. Xbox Live effectively means that you no longer need to trek over to a friends house or vice versa in order to play a game together which is very handy if you live a fair distance apart.

                Indeed Xbox Live can also be a good tool for staying in touch with people who do live a fair distance away through gaming together and the ability to send instant messages. To take this a step further you can always purchase a headset for the Xbox which you plug into your controller. This connects you to anyone that are playing with online or who you in your party so you can have group chats and also organise key strategies on games through effective communication! If you did want to take this even further you can use Windows Liver Messenger and buy an Xbox Live camera to create video chats. The great thing about all of this is that it all comes within the subscription fee you paid. So you can talk to a friend in Australia on Xbox live and it won't cost you anything unlike a phone call! In this way Xbox Live also fulfills a number of the same functions as skype does!

                The Xbox live Marketplace is well worth a look. Have a look on the Xbox dashboard which gives you a wide range of options to download free games and trailers or even to pay and download add ons to games for example extra Zombie maps on Call of Duty. Full games can be downloaded also, these options add even more to your gaming experience and allow you to unlock further achievements on games. You need to purchase Xbox Live points in order to buy these games/add ons etc these are available on the Xbox Live marketplace and in games retailers.

                The Avatar marketplace allows to buy clothes and objects for your avatar. There are loads of options some of which are even branded so you can buy Gears of War attire to clad your avatar out in for example!

                There are also a number of other entertainment medias on Xbox Live. Zune provides the options to buy and download movies onto your Xbox harddrive again these are paid for in Xbox Live points. Zune has a huge category of films including recent releases. There are also opportunities to download music and social networking opportunities such as facebook, twitter and last fm.

                Although from experience I would say that the Xbox Live system does run smoothly and efficiently online I am blessed with a good internet connection. I have played on friends consoles where the connection is not quite as good and there can be lagging and jolting as the connection struggles so beware of this. However from experience and what I've heard it appears the Playstation 3 in particular suffers even worse problems with its online gameplay.

                Overall, Xbox Live is a great online gaming system. Not only is the gameplay good, the systems efficient and information and features well set out but you can communicate and keep in touch with friends. Hence a number of functions are all brought together under one system! The Gold option is well worth paying for to obtain all the features, although you can do a few things on Silver it just does not give you the freedom of Gold and you cannot play online on games which I feel is the main point of online gameplay!

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                  07.01.2011 00:48
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                  A great service, would be 5 star without the price

                  I bought an Xbox 360 over 3 years ago now, and was instantly hooked on the online gameplay. I eagerly took up my 1 month free trial of Xbox Live Gold and loved it. Over the past three years the service has been consistent and of a high quality throughout. It has also evolved to provide many more services, including access to Sky Player, Twitter, Facebook, Netflix, last.fm and many other services. However, in this review I will be focusing on the gaming aspect of the service, as this is not only what it was created for but also the aspect of the service that I use most.

                  Price

                  This is an issue that has to be addressed, and got out of the way, as it is something comes up all the time in conversations about Xbox Live Gold. All of my PS3, PC and Wii loving friends constantly laugh at the fact that I have to pay for online gaming and it drives me mad! However, all in all it's not that bad. At recommended retail prices of £4.99 for a month, £14.99 for 3 months and £39.99 for 12 months it is not ridiculously priced, and it is easy to get the 12 month subscription for around £30 if you shop around enough. It is important to realise that Xbox Live Gold may be expensive compared to the online gaming services provided with the PC, PS3 and Wii competitors but it is a better gaming service and the rest of this review will explain why.

                  Reliability

                  This is where Xbox Live Gold really makes itself worth the money. In the three years that I have been using the service, and I am a pretty heavy gamer playing most days of the week, the reliability has been excellent. Many of my friends on PS3 complain that they will be playing online and struggle to get games even though there will be thousands of potential opponents online. Xbox live never has this problem, as long as you have a good broadband connection, you will be in a game within minutes of starting up your system. If you are a serious gamer, the £40 a year is well worth it.

                  Game Variety

                  One of the main reasons for people playing the Xbox system is the variety of brilliant games available on the console. Most of the big blockbusters on the PS3 console, are also found on the Xbox 360 console. At the same time, some of the most popular Xbox games online are found exclusively on the Xbox console. An example of this is the award winning Halo series, which was the game that made me fall in love with Xbox Liec. Other exclusive games include the Forza and Gears of War franchises.

                  The subscription cost also allows Xbox to enhance their service beyond that possible from the free services provided by Sony and the Wii. The revenue provided from the subscription fee has provided the ability to subsidise the servers that host online games. This has made it cheaper for games studios to include online features in their games. Due to this Xbox has by far the greatest variety of online games.

                  Overall the service is brilliant, especially the gaming aspects. If you have a Xbox 360 and aren't online you are seriously missing out!

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                  02.09.2010 12:25
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                  A window to many opportunities

                  Xbox Live is not just a feature but an experience. It adds so much more to all games and enables you to do potentially anything with the help of other players. With a 12 month subscription costing around £30, it's well-worth it if you think a mobile contract could cost this a month! I certainly don't mind paying nowadays for this as you can get so many benefits over the silver subscription.

                  You are automatically given a silver subscription if you play your Xbox 360 with an internet connection. This enables you to watch videos and download demos but you are restricted from any Xbox Live features through games. With a gold subscription, you can play Xbox 360 games online and battle against or join with other players.

                  It's not always team deathmatches between sides. You can take advantage of Xbox Live depending on the game you own. Some games will enable you to complete missions together, some enable you to free roam together. Others such as Forza Motorsport enable you to auction your cars to other players and also purchase cars, setups and decals that other players have produced.

                  Xbox Live adds an endless feeling to all games. No Xbox Live game is ever the same. You may battle each other on the same maps or race on the same tracks, but you may be using different weapons or cars and you may do well or badly. It's all depending on your skills versus the other player's skills.

                  It's very easy to setup, you just need a gamertag and windows live ID to log in with. Most games I have played are very smooth but there is always a host in the game, who seems to have a slight advantage sometimes. It also depends on how good the host's connection is, although most games tend to pick the host with the best connection. I'd certainly recommend a gold subscription if you have an Xbox 360, but make sure you buy it online as it's a lot cheaper than buying it on the console!

                  Thanks for reading!

                  :)

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                    25.03.2010 23:58
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                    Best price

                    Being a big Xbox 360 gamer, my boyfriend decided he wanted to have an xbox live membership as we had internet access for the xbox 360 anyways.

                    There is a choice of membership options, everyone that has their xbox 360 connected to the internet and signs up for xbox live gets a silver access membership, which allows you to download games and content. When you first do this, you get a month free trial of Gold.
                    Gold enables you to play online games with others from around the world, chat to people, check facebook and listen to music through last FM radio.

                    The gold subscription comes in 1 month, 3 month and 12 month subscriptions. These can be bought through the xbox 360 itself with a credit or debit card, through the microsoft xbox live website, or through buying a pre paid coded card. 1 month subscriptions are usually £4.99 and done through a monthly direct debit. 3 months is usually £15 and 12 months are usually £40. These can be found cheaper, just depends where you buy and when.

                    The 12 month subscription is the best value for money, even if it is the one that costs more initally. To buy 12 months subscription in 3 month cards, this would cost you £60, so buying the 12 month card will save you at least £20 a year on the subscription costs, even more so if you were to pay by monthly direct debit.

                    The 12 month subscription card is available in places like Argos, Game, WH Smith, and online in places like Ebay, Amazon, Play etc. The card is basically a scratchcard. You scratch off a panel to reveal a code made up of letters and numbers which you enter into your xbox 360 to add it to your account. This can be done from your xbox 360 dashboard, as long as you have your 360 connected to the internet.

                    It is really easy to add this code to your account, took me all of a couple of minutes and then I was off to play against the world on many different online games. If you are looking to play online on your xbox 360, I truly recommend the 12 month gold subscription as it is the best for value, and heck it lasts a whole year!

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                      30.01.2010 18:38
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                      get this if you have got an xbox 360

                      Xbox live is a service that allows you to connect with other gamers and freinds from arounds the world giving you the persmissions a gold account gets. unlike the ps3s online comunity you have to pay to access the xbox 360's one, but for a very good reason, with the money you ay you get a much better service than the ps3s with a much bigger catalogue of DLC (downloadable content) and other things such as various videos on the xbox dashboard aswell as using this as a way to play games over the internet there is also the possibility of using this as a way of communicating with freinds. The only reason i didnt give this 5 stars is the fact that there are 12+1 month subscriptions around that are the same price giving you one month extra which is always a good thing, getting more value for your money. another reason for downgrading this is that once youve got your subscription your going to need to get yourself a mic and possibly a wireless receiver to enjoy it to its fullest potential.

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                      23.01.2010 22:02
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                      The most complete online service on console

                      XBOX Live, Microsoft's online gaming service for their XBOX 360 console is easiest to describe as two separate services and levels of membership. Out of the box, your 360 console (if connected to the internet through the machine's ethernet cable or the wireless network adaptor which is sold separately) gives you silver membership.

                      Silver membership, the basic form of Live - basically - gives you access to download game demos, download Arcade games from the machine's library of classic titles but little else.

                      The biggest difference that Gold membership gives you, is the ability to play against other gamers around the world online. A service launched with Microsoft's first XBOX in the early noughties it has been streamlined for 360 and is widely regarded as the best and most comprehensive online service for consoles.

                      The Gold service costs around £40 for a year's membership. Three month cards can also be purchased and it's possible to pay monthly through Microsoft for the service but both alternatives work out a good bit more expensive than the twelve month card.

                      The Live membership is sold as a code on a scratchcard which you enter through the 360's Guide facility.

                      Beyond online play, Gold membership includes immediate access to new demos, with some demos restricted for a few days to silver members. Promotions on the XBOX dashboard (the screen which comes up when you turn the machine on) are also often only available to gold members and include things like arcade games, downloadable content for existing games and films at a reduced rate, often as low as half price.

                      Microsoft have recently worked hard to increase the perceived value of gold membership with the addition of the likes of 1 Vs 100, a massive online quiz game where gamers get the chance to win real prizes and other applications like Facebook, Twitter and Sky Player which work in a similar way to their real world variants as well as now weekly deals exclusively for Gold subscribers.

                      The biggest benefit for me apart from the online gaming is the addition of Last FM. A very popular internet radio station, Last FM basically allows you to create your own radio station. The idea is that you input an artist's name and the radio station plays you a series of songs by artists it thinks you might be interested in based on your original search and offering you the option to 'heart' a song which means the song is more likely to reappear or you can X it which means if a song you don't like appears you can ensure it doesn't again. Clever stuff. The Live version also provides a slideshow of pictures of the artists involved which is a nice touch. The service also remembers all of your previous searches and your most recent inputs are moved to the top of your list for easy access.

                      For me the Gold service offers very good value for money but it does have its detractors and it shouldn't be forgotten that the PlayStation Network and the Wii's online mode are both free and so is (shockingly) Microsoft's online play for PC.

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                      15.11.2009 12:00
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                      Give it a go, you might enjoy it.

                      Introduction

                      Xbox live is the name of the Microsofts online service for the Xbox 360. This service gives you access to a vast array of content, some of it free, and some of it at a price.

                      There are 2 types of membership available, namely Gold and Silver. Silver is a free membership which is available to all Xbox owners. Silver allows you access to most promotional video and feature content via the 360 dashboard but does not allow you to play games online.

                      So what is so special then about Xbox live? The Playstation Network is free, the Wii gives free access to its limited catalogue of online games and seeing as the Silver Xbox Live is also free, why bother paying what seems like a high amount for the Gold membership. These were my own personal sentiments when I first bought my Xbox. Coming from the Wii, I was horrified when I found out I had to pay to play online, something I had always taken for granted whilst playing Mario Kart, in fact, after my free month of live membership ran out, I didn't sign up for a paid membership straight away. The reason for this wasn't because I didn't like it, but I just wanted to buy a few more games to maximize the use I would get out of it.

                      Cost

                      You can buy Xbox Live Gold Memberships for various lengths. The shortest membership period is for one month which will set you back £4.99, the medium term membership is priced at £14.99 for 3 months with the 12 month membership costing £39.99. These are the recommended prices but I guarantee that if you put Xbox live gold membership into google you will get this a lot cheaper. I ended up paying £26 for my 12 month membership and although you don't get the little credit card style scratch card, you do get the code emailed through in a matter of minutes and all online sellers have to be authorised by Microsoft so you know you are buying a genuine code. Enter this code via the Xbox dashboard and instantly you are upgraded to Gold and can now begin exploring all the extra features.

                      Online play

                      The reason probably 99% of people buy the Xbox Live Gold membership is so that they can play online games. This adds another dimension to gaming as no longer do you just have to beat artificially controlled opponents, you can now take on the world and battle against other people who, like yourself, probably think they are pretty good at a particular game. With most of the popular games, you will never have a problem in being paired with an opponent. For example, when playing the new Fifa 10 game at peak times, it is not uncommon for roughly 70,000 people to be playing the same game online. This is where the Xbox dramatically scores points over the Playstation as the PSN (Playstation Network) is still very much in its infancy. Gold membership also gives you voice chat whilst playing online. Although I tend not to use this feature a great detail with strangers, there is nothing better than having a bit of verbal banter with friends during a game. This online chat is very clear and doesn't slow the game down one little bit which is amazing considering it is using the same internet bandwidth as the game. The chat is full duplex which means that more than one person can speak at any given time. There are different chat channels which mean you can either speak to one person who may or may not be playing the same game as you or , using Fifa again as an example, you could potentially be chatting with upto 19 other players if you are in the 10 v 10 match mode.

                      Obviously, whilst playing online you are going to have varying experiences of other players. Xbox Live allows you to leave feedback on other players so that future opponents can get an insight into whether they are friendly or not. In my opinion, this needs a bit of work as I only tend to leave feedback if I have had a bad experience of someone. As well as leaving this feedback you can class gamers as preferred players or as people to avoid. This information is used when the service is trying to pair you up for an online game. If you prefer a player then this person will get priority for you to play against if you are both online at the same time. If you have set someone as 'avoid', you will never get paired with them.

                      With the vast amount of people online at any one time, you are going to want to play against someone who has similar ability as yourself as you are going to lose enjoyment pretty quick if you are new to a game and are playing against someone who can beat you very easily. Microsoft use a technology called TrueSkill that attempted to pair you with players of a similar ability when playing games. The scope of TrueSkill is configurable so if you really want to take on the best, you can tell your current game to pair you with someone of any skill level. If, like me, you want to play it safe, you can tell the game to only pair you with people of the same skill level. There are various points between these two extremes where you can say, for example, find me a player upto 3 levels above my current level. I think this is a brilliant feature, one that keeps me gripped to the online service for hours.

                      Additional content

                      If you have a gold membership, you are able to download game addons such as extra outfits, cars, golf courses etc. Some of this content will be made available to Silver members but Gold members will get this option a good deal quicker. Also, some content may only be made available to Gold members (this content is usually just for features relating to online play).

                      As a Gold member, you can also download exclusive game demos, trailers and movies, most of them now coming in full 1080 HD.

                      It is worth noting that most of this extra content, with the exception of the demos and trailers is not free. You will need to purchase Microsoft Points if you wish to download any add ons.

                      Xbox Live Parties

                      A party is in effect a large voice chat room where you can invite your friends to regardless of what game they are playing. This means you could have 5 or 6 of your mates online, all playing different games but still able to chat with each other across the Xbox Live service. The party function also works if you are all playing the same game although, if you are in this channel, you will not be able to speak to your opponent directly if they are not in the party.

                      Netflix Movies

                      If you are already a member of Netflix, who personally I have not heard of, you are able to watch a vast array of movies and tv programmes via your Xbox, free of charge. These videos are streamed directly onto the Xbox. As I am not a Netflix member and am not prepared to use the pay per view option, I am unable to comment any further on this feature.

                      Sky Player

                      The latest addition to the Xbox 360 for Gold Members is the Sky player. If you have a current Sky Multiroom subscription then you are entitled to watch Sky content included in your normal subscription for free. If you are a standard Sky subscriber then this service will cost you £5 per month. If like me, you don't subscribe to Sky then you can take the service from £15 per month for the base service up to £50 per month for the full service including Sky Sports and ESPN. One advantage of this is that you don't need a satellite dish or any other hardware to receive the Sky channels. This service is only in its first month and has had a few teething problems but these are being ironed out quickly. I get all my TV via Virgin Media so will not be using this service but I can see the benefits for existing Sky customers who would want to watch their TV shows in another room to their main TV and set top box.

                      Facebook, Twitter and Last.fm

                      Such is the pull of Xbox Live these days, companies are queuing up to get a piece of the action. I have already mentioned that Sky are onboard and from November 17 2009, the social networking sites Facebook and Twitter will allow users to manage their accounts via their Xbox 360 Gold membership. On the same date, music site last.fm will also be going live to gold members. I believe this will allow users to listen to online music via their console. This announcement was greeted with excitement a few months back so hopefully it will live up to the hype.

                      Verdict

                      Xbox Live, although appearing quite expensive is a work of art. Microsoft have invested a lot of time and money in perfecting the service. To be honest, games on the Xbox and Playstation 3 are almost identical in appearance and gameplay, but the Xbox is by far the most popular console because it is streets ahead in terms of the online experience. When signing up for an Xbox account, you get a free months trial of the gold membership. I would suggest really making use of this and explore as much as you can as £40 is a lot of money and you need to be sure you will get maximum use out of the service. If you are certain Xbox Live Gold is for you then I would go for the 12 month membership as I don't think it it worth taking out a smaller one as the price per month costs are a lot higher. I would also recommend shopping around, definitely do not pay the price high street retailers such as GAME charge. Buying from an online vendor and buying off the high street are exactly the same apart from you will get a credit card with your code on it from the high street whereas you will get your code emailed from an online vendor. You can expect to save anything from £10 to £15 if you are really lucky. Just type the words 'xbox live gold 12 months' into google and then choose your preferred supplier.

                      In typical Microsoft fashion, they are looking to take people away from prime time TV and get them viewing and playing content via the console. This was apparent with the successful trial of 1 vs 100, which was free to gold members, where over 80,000 people played the first few shows back in the summer. It is Microsoft's vision to get people participating in the game rather than just watching it. With this philosophy, the next 12 months are going to be very exciting for the console and the Gold community. Why not join up now and be a part of it.

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