The Xbox Network, previously known as Xbox Live, is an on-demand online gaming and digital media delivery service created and operated by Microsoft. It was initially made available for the Xbox system on November 15, 2002. An updated version of the service was released for the Xbox 360 console at its launch in November 2005, and a further improved version was launched with the Xbox One in 2013. This same software is also used with the XBox Series X and S series.
Xbox accounts are used to keep games, apps, and other materials on the console.
Games for Windows – Live was originally launched in January 2007 on the Windows platform and offered many of the system's features. As part of the Live Anywhere project, Microsoft has announced plans to extend Live to additional platforms, such as handheld devices and mobile phones.
Windows Phone is Microsoft's mobile operating system, and new Windows Phones with full Xbox Live capabilities were released in late 2010. The service was discontinued for the original Xbox on April 15, 2010, and original Xbox games can only be played online via LAN tunneling applications such as XLink Kai.
The Xbox network service is divided into two services: a free service known as Xbox Live Gold, and a paid subscription service called Xbox Live Gold. In March 2021, Microsoft changed the name of Xbox Live to "Xbox network" to encompass all of its other Xbox-related products, while also distinguishing the Xbox Live Gold membership plan from the rest.
On January 22, 2021, Microsoft intended to raise the price of Xbox Live Gold memberships as follows:
- $1 per month (from $9.99),
- $5 for three months ($29.99 instead of $24.99),
- $20 for six months ($59.99 instead of $39.99), and
- $60 for a year (from $119.99).
The Xbox Games Pass Ultimate program allows subscribers to pay for content ahead of time and get it when they want it, but the company will raise prices by $10 per year or $20 per year in mid-December. Subscribers may reactivate their subscriptions at the same level after a 6-month or 12-month subscription period without any cost. However, if you re-subscribe with the same membership plan immediately before the price increase, you will not be charged more than your current rate.
In March 2021, Microsoft officially announced that it would classify Xbox Live as an "Xbox network" to include all Xbox-related services, rather than just Xbox Live. The name "Gold" will remain the same and to distinguish the subscription program from the whole package of services. Microsoft also stated that gamers will no longer be required to have an active Gold membership in order for them to play free games on their Xbox consoles.
Microsoft announced that there were over 100 million Xbox Network subscribers by January 2021.
On November 15, 2007, Microsoft celebrated the fifth anniversary of Xbox Live by giving its more than 8 million subscribers Carcassonne for free and giving gamers who had joined up to date with Live since the beginning 500 free Microsoft Points.
Microsoft announced an open letter to all Xbox Live members in January 2008, promising to give every user of the service a free Xbox Live Arcade game as compensation for several service outages during the holidays. From Mark Whitten, General Manager of Xbox LIVE: "Demand from Xbox 360 purchasers (the most new user registrations in Xbox Live history)" was attributed as the cause for the outage.
- On January 18, 2008, Microsoft announced that Undertow would be free for Gold and Free members for the week of January 23-27 as compensation.
- On November 12, 2009, Dennis Durkin, the COO of Microsoft's interactive entertainment line, announced that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2's release on November 10, 2009 broke the previous record for Xbox Live usage (2 million simultaneous active users), according to MediaCloud.
- On February 5, 2010, Microsoft's Marc Whitten announced that Xbox Live has now reached 23 million members. On the same day, Larry Hyrb, the official Xbox Live support for the original Xbox, stated on his blog that online functionality through Xbox Live backwards compatibility would be discontinued on April 15, 2010. Exclusive to consoles: launched in 2002 as an online service for PCs; subsequently expanded to include gaming consoles and software games (Xbox). Discontinued in 2020: The original Xbox will no longer be supported after April 15th. At least one person who was not directly involved with creating it.
- In August 2010, Microsoft announced a 20% price hike for Xbox Live Gold in certain countries, making it the first such increase since its inception. The basic service was also renamed. Prior to October 2010, the free service was known as Xbox Live Silver.
- It was reported on June 10, 2011, that the service would be fully integrated into Microsoft's Windows 8.
- In October 2011, Microsoft revealed live cable television transmission with a number of networks.
- During the Dive into Media conference in Southern California in February 2013, Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business, announced that Xbox Live subscribers had increased by 15% to 46 million people from a year ago.
- In June 2014, Microsoft eliminated the requirement that Xbox Live Gold memberships be required to use streaming media applications (such as Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Internet Explorer, Skype, and others). However, various rental or subscription charges may still apply.
- On December 25, 2014, a denial of service attack on both PlayStation Network and Xbox Live caused an outage. The service was restored on December 28, with users reporting problems in the days that followed. On December 25, 2015, a group known as "The Phantom Squad" threatened to disrupt the Xbox Live network using a DDoS attack.
- In 2019, Xbox Live will be cross-platform, with Android, iOS, and Nintendo Switch.
The new Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription tier, which was added to the Xbox Game Pass program in April 2019, includes Xbox Live Gold as part of a new Program.