If you are like me and own an XBox 360 then chances are you either have currently, or have considered signing up to XBox Live Gold. As a recap, XBox Live is a service provided by Microsoft to enable you to connect with others, both socially and in games as well as consume other services like Netflix or Hulu. Microsoft has taken the humble games console and is (iteratively) changing it into a home entertainment service.
There are two flavours of XBox Live; Silver and Gold, with USD$0.00 and USD$50.00 price tags respectively. So why would you pay the premium for Gold?
Reasons For XBox Live Gold
- It provides a more reliable network / service than the equivilant Sony PS3 network (applies to both Silver and Gold)
- It integrates Netflix, Hulu and ESPN (and will also integrate other services such as Comcast Xfinity) – watch content through your XBox!
- It provides a social connection to your other friends – particularly if you all have Kinect, where you can video chat also
Reasons Against XBox Live Gold
- Pay to access the applications for Netflix, Hulu etc – then pay again for each service! Sony and Apple provide the apps for free!
- The member exclusives are generally not great (in my experience)
- Video chat? I’ll stick with one of the myriad of other options elsewhere (Skype, Facebook Connect, Google Hangouts) – they’re free!
- Pay for multiplayer ability? Again, Sony offers this for free
- Listen to personalised music using Zune Music Pass? How about Spotify, Pandora, or countless other music services, many of which have a free option
So should you buy XBL Gold?
Regretfully yes; even if you don’t indulge in multiplayer, Microsoft offer other services which make things convenient (a one-stop-shop), even if you do have to pay for third party services (again) such as Hulu. Also consider that the premium pays towards security of their network and the services they can offer – Sony has had far more issues with the PSN network (e.g. multiplayer gaming “lag”, security breaches, etc).
There are some ways to reduce the cost of XBLG – I use Amazon and typically save $7 – $10 on the cost of an annual subscription
Don’t sign up your credit card – once MS have it, it’s very hard to remove it (you have to call customer services), otherwise the renewals are automatic.