Xbox Live Gold: A SuperParent Guide

Everything you need to know.

Xbox Live Gold is Xbox’s subscription service that allows subscribers to play online multiplayer games with other real people on Xbox consoles (like the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S). Xbox Live Gold also includes other benefits for subscribers.

Here’s what you need to know about Xbox Live Gold.

How does Xbox Live Gold work?

Xbox Live Gold is a monthly subscription service that gives subscribers multiple benefits. First, Xbox Live Gold subscribers can play online multiplayer games with other people. While an Xbox Live Gold subscription is not required to play free-to-play multiplayer games like Fortnite and Apex Legends, Xbox Live Gold is required to access multiplayer modes in most other games on Xbox consoles.

Next, Xbox Live Gold subscribers will receive at least two free games each month, which may include backwards-compatible Xbox 360 games. Xbox calls this benefit “Games with Gold.”

Xbox Live Gold subscribers can play the free games they receive through Games with Gold as long as they have an active Xbox Live Gold subscription. If a subscriber cancels their Xbox Live Gold subscription, they can unlock access to these games again by resubscribing to Xbox Live Gold or by purchasing the games outright (though this restriction doesn't apply in some cases). You can learn more about the Games with Gold benefit on the Xbox Support website.

Finally, Xbox Live Gold subscribers receive access to discounts in the Microsoft Store.

How much does Xbox Live Gold cost?

Xbox Live Gold costs $9.99 per month or $24.99 for three months.

Xbox Live Gold is also included at no additional cost in the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate allows subscribers to play over 100 video games on Xbox consoles, PC, and mobile devices (mobile gaming is achieved through cloud streaming). You can learn more about Xbox Game Pass Ultimate in our guide to Xbox Game Pass.

Finally, you can give an Xbox Live Gold subscription to someone as a gift by purchasing an Xbox Live Gold gift card (you can also buy an Xbox Live Gold subscription as a gift on the Microsoft Store website).

Is there anything else parents need to know about Xbox Live Gold?

Some of the games that are given away through the Games with Gold benefit are rated M for Mature by the ESRB, meaning they aren’t appropriate for kids. Parents can use Xbox’s parental controls to ensure their kids can’t download these mature games.