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Do you know that there are two tiers of Xbox Live — the broadband-only online gaming service for Xbox 360? Right out of the box, your Xbox 360 is Internet ready; just connect your console to an available broadband connection (via Ethernet cable or compatible wireless adapter like the Xbox 360 Wireless Networking Adapter) and set up your account. But which level of service is right for you: Xbox Live Gold or Xbox Live Silver?

In Plain English
In a nutshell, with Xbox Live Silver you are automatically a part of the Xbox Live community. You can send and receive messages from the millions of members already online, download system and game updates, and shop for premium content.

Xbox Live Gold members can do all of those things, plus play games online with or against friends, enter tournaments, engage in video chat, and tailor matchmaking through feedback, plus get access to special "members only" content not available to Silver members. In other words, you get the full Xbox 360 experience with Xbox Live Gold.

Once you're ready to take the plunge, reserve your gamertag and gamer card online at or through your Xbox 360 Dashboard and prepare yourself for the ultimate online gaming and entertainment experience.

Xbox Live Gold Membership:
  • Play your Xbox 360 multiplayer games online with the premiere online gaming service.

  • Use the brand new TrueSkill Matchmaking system to play against opponents with similar skills, personalities, and gaming tastes.

  • Give player feedback to rate your teammates and opponents on their sportsmanship, abilities, and conduct to influence matchmaking.

  • Play select original Xbox games online (the Xbox 360 Hard Drive is required).

  • Get access to exclusive Gold Member content.

  • Engage in video chat.

  • Enjoy all the Xbox Live Silver features (below).

Xbox Live Silver Membership:
  • Go online free of charge.

  • Register a unique gamertag and set up your individual gamer card to keep track of your gaming accomplishments.

  • Engage in one-on-one Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) and chat with your friends via the Xbox 360 Headset.

  • Access Xbox Live Marketplace, download and view demos, trailers, and purchase classic and casual games over Xbox Live Arcade using Microsoft Points.

  • Preview Xbox Live Gold during free weekend trials.

  • Download auto updates and free downloads for your Xbox 360 games.

  • Access Xbox Live Message Center where you can send and receive voice and text messages from other members.

  • Compare gaming stats and achievements against other Xbox Live members.

  • Use your friends list to see who's online.

Premium vs. Free
The most obvious difference between Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Live Silver is the cost. Every Xbox 360 owner has access to a free Xbox Live Silver Membership*; an Xbox Live Gold Membership allows access to the premium online gaming and entertainment service with superior features. An Xbox Live Gold Membership gives you all the goodies of Xbox Live Silver, plus online play and exclusive member advantages.

Xbox Live Silver is a great introduction to the ultimate online console experience that you get with Xbox Live Gold. Sign up for a free Xbox Live Silver account and get your feet wet. Everyone gets a complimentary 30-day trial of Xbox Live Gold just for signing up for an Xbox Live Silver account (limited time offer; limited number of free trials per system). It's a great opportunity to see what all the hoopla is about. Upgrade your account status to Xbox Live Gold from the comfort of your couch.

Article by Franklin Beans

*Free Silver membership requires a broadband Internet connection and an Xbox 360 storage device (hard drive or memory unit). Korean players under the age of 14 and players who have previously been banned from Xbox Live are ineligible.