Here's the good news for gamers on a budget: Xbox Live Silver memberships are free. The basic online service is good-to-go for all Xbox 360 owners out of the box just by plugging the console into a broadband-enabled network. This gives access to the Xbox Live Marketplace, where visitors can download game trailers, demos of upcoming games, and episodic content. Gamers can also use the Silver service to create a gamer profile and leave voice messages for other Live users.
But what about online gaming?
To challenge friends and foes alike to a spin around New York in Project Gotham Racing 3 or to jump into a round of team deathmatch in Perfect Dark Zero, Xbox 360 users will need to pony up and upgrade to Xbox Live Gold. Both services were detailed back when Microsoft previously announced details of the new Live service on its MTV special, but the specifics of just how much the service would cost were unknown.
Both EBgames.com and GameStop.com are listing several different Xbox Live Gold service packages, and gamers who have already dropped upward of $2,000 on a 360 bundle will be happy to know that pricing hasn't changed drastically from current-generation Xbox Live subscriptions. In fact, in some cases the deals seem to be even better. All Xbox Live Gold packages are all listed as shipping on November 15.
According to both retailers, a one-month subscription card to Xbox Live Gold will run gamers $7.99. That's a $2 increase over the one-month subscription to the original Xbox Live. It's as bare-bones as one can get, offering just admission into Gold, and is likely aimed at gamers who purchase the Xbox 360 package that already comes bundled with a headset who just want to get their feet wet in Live.
The next step up, the three-month options, begin the bundle opportunities. For $19.99, gamers can save roughly $4 on the purchase of three one-month cards and can buy a three-month subscription card. Or they can opt for the bundle (EB Games labels it the "Value Pak," while GameStop calls it the "Gold Kit") for $39.99, which includes a headset, a $10 rebate on a game, a copy of Joust from the Xbox Live arcade, and 100 marketplace points. By comparison, a current three-month subscription with just a headset also retails for $39.99.
The final tier of Xbox Live Gold options gives gamers a full year to enjoy online fragging. A 12-month subscription to Gold will cost $49.99 from both retailers, but EB Games is doing GameStop one better by making it a baker's dozen and including an extra month for free. The bundles vary slightly between the two retailers. Both include the year subscription, a headset, 200 marketplace points, and a $20 game rebate, but EB offers the Billiards Xbox Live arcade game, and GameStop once again offers Joust. These prices aren't much different from current Xbox Live prices. $49.99 will also net gamers 12-months on Xbox Live, and for $20 more, they can also get a headset and a preselected game.
Microsoft previously revealed that current Xbox Live subscribers will be able to transfer over their accounts to the new Xbox Live (often referred to as Xbox Live 2.0), but the actual nuts and bolts of that transition have not been detailed.
Microsoft has not officially announced any pricing for the next generation of Xbox Live. Attempts to contact the company went unanswered as of press time.