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Xbox 101: Xbox Live and Xbox Game Pass

Over the last few articles, we are going to give new arrivals to the Xbox family a quick guide so that they can get the most out of their new console. We’ve already covered setting the system up and the peripherals available for the console. Tomorrow, we’re gonna look at the must-have games on Xbox One. Today we’re going to take a look at Xbox Live, the way you get your console online.


To connect to Xbox Live you need to have a membership, which comes in two flavours, Silver and Gold. Silver membership is free and connects you to the store, friends lists, game hubs, and nearly all features apart from playing online multiplayer. To play multiplayer, you will need a gold subscription. You can either choose to pay $59.99 for a full year, or you could choose a shorter period such as 6 months $24.99, or $9.99 for a single month
As well as being able to play online multiplayer, Gold membership grants you other benefits as well. First of all, there’s Games With Gold, which will give you two free Xbox One games a month (as well as two free Xbox 360 games). Deals With Gold gives you discounts on a select choice of games that change each week. Gold membership also allows you to create parties with other gamers. This allows you to chat and communicate with a group of your friends (or any random players you meet) while playing your own game or all together in another game.

Online Apps

Once you are connected to Xbox Live you gain access to numerous online apps. There are video streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus, Machinima, and HBO Go (although these do require individual subscriptions to the relevant service). You can also use Skype that will allow you to contact any of your friends and even make video calls. You can also watch and stream gameplay through Twitch (though you need to set up a Twitch account).

Xbox Store

The Xbox Store is your one-stop online shop for any games, apps, movies, etc. that you want to buy. You can buy almost every game that has been released for Xbox One. You can also preorder titles, get demos for games, download a hefty selection of free-to-play titles, and a huge array of apps for the system. There’s also the Xbox Preview Program that is very similar to Steam Early Access. Here you can buy games for a reduced cost before they get a full retail release. These titles are normally incomplete as the developer is still working on them. Purchasing it in Game Preview will get you the full game once it’s released.


The main reason people get a Gold subscription for Xbox Live is so that they can play online multiplayer. Since more games are having significant multiplayer components, and some are purely multiplayer, a gold subscription is becoming a necessity for XBox One owners. Most games will allow you to invite your friends or let you join as a party. However, all games will use matchmaking to help you find a game if you’re playing on your own.

The other thing to remember is that you may want to play with a headset. This allows you to communicate with the other people in your game. Just remember that if you’re using a headset, make sure it’s not picking up music you’re playing in the background or other conversations that are going on as no one else wants to hear that. Also be respectful to other gamers and there is no excuse for abuse of any kind.


Xbox Game Pass

Xbox Game Pass is a separate subscription service that grants you access to over a hundred games to play on your Xbox One. All of the first-party releases launch on the program on day one. This is also true of several indie games that come to the service. The library of games is constantly changing with a few games being removed each month while more get added as well. Like Xbox Live you can pay for the service either monthly or annually. You can also get Xbox Game Pass Ultimate which combines both an Xbox Game Pass subscription as well as an Xbox Live subscription. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate also includes Game Pass for PC meaning you can use a Windows PC to play a load of games as well. Xbox Game Pass really offers amazing value and is something that every Xbox gamer should consider picking up. This even truer for a new gamer to the Xbox platform as you could feasibly not buy a single game and just use Xbox Game Pass.

Well, that covers the basics of Xbox Live. If you have questions about this or anything else related to Xbox Live please shout out in the comments below. Why not check out one of the other articles in our Xbox 101 series.

Steve Clist
Joint Editor-in-Chief at Xbox Enthusiast as well as a contributor for Nintendo Enthusiast and PlayStation Enthusiast. Steve is a musician and gamer who loves sharing his passion for each. You will normally find him at the front of the grid in racing games or on the other end of the kill cam when you've just been killed in a first-person shooter.

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