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Xbox Live Gold: Everything Xbox One Owners Need To Know

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Whether you have an Xbox One already or you're thinking about getting Microsoft's gaming console, you're going to have to contend with the Xbox Live Gold question. An Xbox One is a fantastic gaming machine, but the things you can do on it are limited unless you pony up the money and subscribe to Xbox Live Gold.

That sounds like a bummer, but your money isn't being wasted. Xbox Live Gold offers a substantial amount of value for the price you pay. Let's dive in and discuss everything you need to know about Microsoft's online service.

Online Gaming
First and foremost, Xbox Live Gold is what you need to play your games online. And with so many games being fully or partially online nowadays, like Fortnite and Overwatch, you're missing out on a huge swath of today's biggest games if you don't play online.

Speaking of being online, you're going to need a router if you don't have one already. If you're in the market, here's a great one to consider from Asus. It's the highest-rated wireless router of 2018, as ranked by our sister site CNET.

Free Games
Having to pay to take your games online can be a hard pill to swallow, but it is the norm for consoles these days--just look at PlayStation Plus and Nintendo Switch Online. To make the cost of the subscription go down easier, Microsoft offers free games each month to Xbox Live Gold subscribers.

Every month, you can download two free Xbox One games and two free Xbox 360 games. All of the 360 games are playable on Xbox One thanks to backwards compatibility, so you can rack up quite a game collection over the course of a year.

Not all of the games on offer each month are fantastic, but there are enough highly rated ones over the course of a year to make the service worthwhile even if you play only a fraction of the freebies. Recent standouts include Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Assassin's Creed Syndicate, and Forza Horizon 2. You can find details about this month's free games here.

A few downsides come into play here, however. If you forget to download a game during its window of availability, you're out of luck. And if you cancel your Xbox Live Gold subscription, you'll lose access to the Xbox One games you've downloaded (though the 360 games are yours to keep and play forever).

Xbox Live Gold Exclusive Discounts
In addition to free games each month, Xbox Live Gold members get exclusive discounts on select games each week on the Microsoft Store. This is part of the Deals with Gold program, and it can pay off pretty quickly if you plan to buy lots of digital games.

Xbox Live Gold Pricing
The standard pricing for Xbox Live Gold is listed below, but if you keep an eye on GameSpot's deals coverage, we occasionally post about Xbox Live Gold discounts.

One month -- $10
Three months -- $25
One year -- $60

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