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Examining Xbox LIVE

Xbox LIVE is a service offered by Microsoft Corporation that enables online multiplayer gaming and access to various digital media. It was first made available in 2002 and has evolved considerably since then, with new features added regularly, including extension of the service to other platforms, such as Windows Phone and Windows 8. It is available as a free service and as a subscription-based service. Joining Xbox LIVE is crucial to getting the most out of your console.

Understanding Xbox LIVE Memberships

The Xbox LIVE free service is known as Xbox LIVE Free (it was previously known as Xbox LIVE Silver), whereas the paid service is known as Xbox LIVE Gold. The latter offers access to considerably more services, as demonstrated in the following table, which compares select features. There is also a Family Pack option, which provides four Xbox LIVE Gold memberships so an entire household can enjoy the extra benefits at a reduced cost. In addition, the Family Pack enables you to gift point allowances to family members, view reports about your family’s Xbox LIVE activities, and receive occasional discounts on family-friendly games.

Although an Xbox LIVE Gold membership makes more features and services accessible to you on your Xbox 360, many of these have additional requirements (for example, a Netflix subscription to access Netflix content). In addition, much of the digital content on the Xbox LIVE Marketplace is not free. For example, the only downloadable games generally free are ad-supported games. Making purchases from the Xbox LIVE Marketplace requires purchasing Microsoft Points. See “Understanding Microsoft Points” later in this chapter.

Comparison of Select Features and Services Offered by Xbox LIVE Free Versus Xbox LIVE Gold*

Feature

Xbox LIVE Free

Xbox LIVE Gold

Additional Requirements

Avatar creation and customization

Yes

Yes

None

Downloadable content

Yes

Yes

None

Family Settings

Yes

Yes

None

Free demos and game previews

Yes

Yes

None

Game Room

Yes

Yes

None

MSN access

Yes

Yes

None

Roaming profiles

Yes

Yes

None

Text with friends

Yes

Yes

None

Kinect Fun Labs

Yes

Yes

Kinect

Voice chat

Yes

Yes

Headset or Kinect

Xbox LIVE arcade access

Yes

Yes

None

Zune video

Yes

Yes

Microsoft Points

Avatar Kinect

No

Yes

Kinect

Cloud Storage

No

Yes

None

ESPN access

No

Yes

ESPN3-affiliated ISP

Facebook access

No

Yes

Facebook account

Halo Waypoint

No

Yes

None

Hulu Plus access

No

Yes

Hulu Plus account

iHeartRadio access

No

Yes

None

IPTV access

No

Yes

IPTV account

Last.fm access

No

Yes

Last.fm account

Netflix access

No

Yes

Netflix account

Online Multiplayer Gaming

No

Yes

None

Party chat

No

Yes

Headset or Kinect

Skype access

No

Yes

Headset or Kinect and Skype account

Twitter access

No

Yes

Twitter account

Video Kinect

No

Yes

Kinect

YouTube access

No

Yes

YouTube account

Zune music

No

Yes

Zune Pass

Joining Xbox LIVE

When you know which Xbox LIVE membership you want, you can set up your Xbox LIVE account. Follow these steps to get your Xbox LIVE membership.

  1. Go to Profile under the Settings channel, and press A to select it.
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  2. Select Join Xbox LIVE.
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  3. At the Exit Session screen, select Yes.
  4. At the Welcome to Xbox LIVE screen, press A to continue.
  5. At the first Join Xbox LIVE screen, enter your first name, scroll to Done, and press A to proceed.
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  6. Enter your email address, scroll to Done, and press A to proceed.
  7. Enter your password, scroll to Done, and press A to proceed.
  8. Enter your password again to confirm it, scroll to Done, and press A to proceed.
  9. At the Secret Question screen, select the question you would like to answer should you need to have your password re-sent to you in the future. After you enter your answer, scroll to Done, and press A to proceed.
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  10. At the Account Protection screen, select and enter either an SMS number or alternate email address. If you do not want to have an alternate way to verify your identity, press X to skip.
  11. Enter your date of birth, and press A to continue.
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  12. Press A to proceed after you confirm your information. If you need to change anything, select any line to edit and press A to continue.
  13. At Your current privacy settings screen, press A to continue.
  14. At the Terms and preferences screen, select Accept and press A to continue.
  15. After your Xbox LIVE Free account is created, the Congratulations! screen appears, which includes a preassigned Gamertag that can be changed once for free. Press A to continue.
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  16. At the Xbox LIVE Gold screen, press A to Continue.
  17. At the Xbox LIVE Gold Memberships screen, select the membership option you would like, and press A to continue. Select Upgrade Later if you are happy with Xbox LIVE Free membership.
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Changing Your Preassigned Gamertag

A Gamertag is your username on Xbox LIVE and other platforms, including Windows Phone and Games for Windows LIVE. Because it identifies your profile on Xbox LIVE and is the method people use to locate you on Xbox LIVE, you may want to customize it.

  1. Go to Profile under the Settings channel, and press A to select it.
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  2. Scroll down to Edit Profile and press A.
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  3. Press A to select Gamertag.
  4. At the Change Gamertag screen, select Enter a New Gamertag to pick your own. You can also choose Get Suggestions if you want to see some available options to select or edit.
  5. At the Change Gamertag screen, enter a new Gamertag, scroll to Done, and press A to continue.
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  6. After you input an available Gamertag, a second Change Gamertag screen appears. If you are happy with your moniker, select Yes, use this gamertag. Confirm the change.
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Paying for Xbox LIVE Gold Membership with a Credit Card

If you decide to pay for Xbox LIVE Gold membership, follow these steps:

  1. Follow steps 1 through 16 under “Joining Xbox LIVE.”
  2. At the Xbox LIVE Gold Memberships screen, select one of the paid options, and press A to continue.
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  3. At the first Billing Info screen, enter your first name, scroll to Done, and press A to continue.
  4. Enter your last name, phone number, and email address on their respective screens, scrolling to Done, and pressing A to continue after each.
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  5. At the Select Payment Option screen, select Credit Card and press A to continue.
  6. At the first Credit Card Info screen, select your credit card type, and press A to continue.
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  7. Enter your name as it appears on your credit card, scroll to Done, and press A to continue.
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  8. Enter your credit card number and its verification code, scrolling to Done, and pressing A to continue after you enter them.
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  9. Enter your credit card’s expiration date, scroll to Done, and press A to continue.
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  10. At the Credit Card Confirmation screen, press A to continue after you verify your information. If anything needs to be corrected, press B to go back to previous screens.
  11. At each of the Billing Address screens, enter the requested information: address, city, state, and zip code, scrolling to Done, and pressing A to continue for each screen.
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  12. Press A after confirming your information. If anything needs to be corrected, press B to go back.
  13. At the Xbox LIVE Gold Memberships screen, select Confirm Purchase. If you decide you don’t want the Xbox LIVE Gold membership, select Cancel.

Redeeming a Prepaid Card

  1. Follow steps 1 through 16 under “Joining Xbox LIVE.”
  2. At the Xbox LIVE Gold Membership screen, select Redeem Prepaid Card.
  3. At the Redeem Code screen, enter the 25-character code from your prepaid card (do not include spaces or hyphens; hyphens appear automatically), scroll to Done, and press A to continue.
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  4. At the Confirm screen, make sure Redeem Now is selected, and press A to continue.
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Understanding Microsoft Points

Microsoft Points are the currency that you use to purchases digital content from the Xbox LIVE Marketplace. This digital content includes games, game add-ons, accessories for your avatar, and videos. You can buy Points directly through your Xbox 360 or from other retailers. As of this writing, if you purchase these Points directly through your Xbox 360, you can buy as few as 400 Points ($4.99) or as many as 6,000 Points ($74.99). Third-party retailers generally sell prepaid cards that contain 1,600 or 4,000 Microsoft Points. Some retailers allow you to opt to receive the code to redeem your Microsoft Points immediately upon purchase via email, rather than having to wait for the card with the code to arrive in the mail; however, some delays in accessing codes have still been reported with this option.

Points that are purchased do not expire, but if you are awarded Points through promotions, these can have expiration dates. However, when you use your Points to make a purchase, Xbox LIVE automatically uses those with the nearest expiration date.

Adding Microsoft Points to Your Account

Follow these steps to add Microsoft Points to your account.

  1. Select Account from the Settings channel.
  2. Go to the Account Management blade, select Add Microsoft Points, and press A to continue.
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  3. At the Add Microsoft Points screen, select the number of points that you want to add and press A to continue.
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  4. At the Points Purchase screen, select Confirm Purchase. If you do not yet have a credit card or PayPal tied to your account, Xbox LIVE prompts you for your billing information.

Redeeming Codes

Follow these steps to redeem your Microsoft Points via a code.

  1. Go to the Settings channel and select Account.
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  2. At the Account Management screen, select Redeem Code.
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  3. At the Redeem Code screen, enter the 25-character code from your prepaid card, scroll to Done, and press A to select.
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  4. At the Confirm screen, make sure Redeem Now is selected, and press A to continue.
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Paying for Purchases with PayPal

PayPal is a free service that enables you to securely make payments and transfer money over the Internet. When you sign up for a PayPal account, you link your checking or savings account, or debit or credit card, to PayPal. You can also add money to your PayPal account via MoneyPak, which works like a cash top-up card.

When you have a PayPal account, which can be set up at www.paypal.com, you can link your Xbox LIVE account to your PayPal account, giving you another means to make purchases through your console. To link your PayPal account to your Xbox LIVE account, go to www.xbox.com/paypal and follow the instructions. You can also add your PayPal account directly on your Xbox by following these steps.

  1. Go to the Settings channel and select Account.
  2. At the Account Management screen, select Manage Payment Options.
  3. From the Manage Payment Options screen, select Add PayPal.
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  4. Enter your email address and password, then select Next.
  5. Select Accept to authorize PayPal as a payment method. You now see that your PayPal account is ready to use.

Accessing Xbox LIVE Anywhere

LIVE Anywhere is a concept by Microsoft to bring Xbox LIVE features and services to a variety of platforms, promoting cross-platform communication while allowing users to maintain a unified identity through one Gamertag. Currently, besides the Xbox 360, the other two platforms actively using the LIVE concept are Games for Windows – LIVE and Windows Phone.

Because Games for Windows – LIVE and Xbox LIVE connect to the same service, you need only one account to access the features offered by each one, such as multiplayer gaming, voice chat, text chat, and achievements. You can also use the same pool of Microsoft Points to make purchases on the Games for Windows – LIVE Marketplace, which even includes some online multiplayer titles that enable PC gamers to play against Xbox 360 gamers.

Through Windows Phone, you can connect and play games with your friends, regardless of your geographic location. The phone uses your Xbox LIVE avatar and gamer profile to keep track of your scores and wins. It also enables you to see which of your friends are online and what they are up to on their consoles, PCs, or Windows Phones.

Connecting to Your Xbox on the Web

Xbox LIVE members can access their account information on the Web at any time by logging into Xbox LIVE at www.xbox.com. When logged in, you can keep track of your friends, monitor your achievements, edit your avatar, queue games to download to your Xbox 360, send and receive messages, redeem Microsoft Points, and more.

Understanding Updates

The Xbox 360 console software is periodically updated, providing you with new features and services. Having your console connected to Xbox LIVE ensures you always have the latest console software, as you are automatically prompted to update your software when an update becomes available. Turn to Chapter 1 for more information on updating your dashboard.

  1. When an Update Required screen pops up, scroll up to Yes, and press A to select it.
  2. When the Update in Progress screen disappears, your console may restart, and you are good to go.
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