What Is Xbox Live Silver?

Xbox Live Silver morphed into free Xbox Live in 2010

Is Xbox Live free?
Bryan Bedder

Xbox Live Silver became the free version of the Xbox Live Gold service in 2010. The free Xbox Live service includes gaming communities, apps, special offers, and groups organized around similar interest and gaming styles — features that were once available only to gamers with paid Xbox Live Gold memberships. Microsoft dropped the Xbox Live Silver designation and now offers free Xbox Live and paid Xbox Gold accounts.

The main advantages of the Gold level of service are the online multiplayer option and multiplayer community, members-only sales, and free games every month. You can still download content from the Xbox Marketplace and keep a friends list so you can chat and share your gamer profile and achievements. 

Xbox Live and Video Apps

In the past, Xbox Live Silver users couldn't use apps such as YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, WWE Network, or much of anything else. That changed in 2014, and now you can use all of these video apps and more with an Xbox Live free account without needing an Xbox Live Gold subscription. You still need to pay any fees those services charge such as a Netflix subscription, for example. 

It is important to note that your Xbox Live profile and subscription works on both Xbox 360 and Xbox One. It is the same account on both platforms. If you pay for Xbox Live Gold, it applies to both systems. 

Why You Should Consider Going Gold

While Xbox Live's free version has a lot to offer, particularly now that Gold isn't required for apps, having Xbox Live Gold is still worth it even if you don't necessarily play online multiplayer games a lot. There are often sales and discounts available only for Gold members, and occasionally demos and game previews are for Gold subscribers as well.

The Deals With Gold section of the website includes exclusive discounts for Gold members of 50 to 75 percent for Xbox 360 and Xbox One games, add-ons, and other items.

One major perk Xbox Live free users miss out on is the Games With Gold program that gives Xbox Live Gold members free Xbox 360 and Xbox One games each month. Every month at least two free Xbox 360 and two Xbox One games are available. In the past, the selection included "Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag," "Rayman Legends," "Halo 3," "Gears of War 3," and many more. In this sense, the Games With Gold feature practically pays for the entire Xbox Live Gold subscription.