Five Months From Now Microsoft Will Stop Gouging Families For Xbox Live

Microsoft’s indispensable Xbox Live service was always tough on gaming households, requiring family members and roommates to piggyback on one another’s accounts or spring for separate $50-a-year subscriptions. Yesterday the company announced it will start selling 4-for-the-price-of-2 Xbox Live Gold Family Packs, which give you four subscriptions for $100 a year.

The master account can distribute Microsoft’s virtual currency to related accounts, and also can monitor the other accounts so you can collect evidence for that long talk with Junior about how he’s been spending too much time playing Transformers: War for Cybertron.

It’s not coming out until November, possibly so the company can think of a way to prevent four friends who live apart from splitting a family membership.


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  1. VashTS says:

    Still haven’t given a cent for online play and never will. If PS3 and WII offer it free, so can M$. I am an old schooler, enjoy my CO-OP with a buddy on a chair next to me and a beer.

    • [MG]LooseCannon says:

      You get what you pay for. Comparing the PS3 and Wii online play to the Live service is like saying getting unlimited DVD “rentals” from your local library is the same as having Netflix service.

      • Sanspants says:

        I’ve had a PS3 and Wii for a few years and just got a 360. While I like Live so far, the only difference I’ve noticed is there being a demo for pretty much every game on arcade. I don’t like that most PSN games do not have demos.

        The only game I’ve played through Live was TF2, and that experience wasn’t noticably different from the PS3. Why do you think Live is better than PSN? (I swear I’m not trying to start an argument, I really want to know why so many people think it’s better.)

        • Gamereviewgod says:

          Cross game chat, parties, video chat, Netflix, soon-to-be ESPN, ability to see friends list while watching a DVD, demos for all Arcade games…

        • Mike says:

          I tried to answer your question in my post down below. Although to be honest unless you are a hardcore, 6 hours at a time online gamer who tracks all your stats online and has at least 20 friends you consistently play with, you will probably be perfectly satisfied with the PS3 eperience.

      • Coyote says:

        I will agree with the Wiis lackluster online. But the PS3, aside from being a little clunky and unwieldy (like the PS3 itself) does everything the 360 does and doesn’t charge for it.

        • DanRydell says:

          In fact it does not. Which is why Sony is offering a paid service that adds the missing features like cross-game chat.

      • Dyscord says:

        You indeed get what you pay for. Everyone talks about how the Wii and PS3 offer online gaming for free, but leave out the shitload of features you get from Xbox Live.

      • kujospam says:

        You really don’t know anything about the ps3 if you dis the online portion of it. More so if you want to compare xbox to ps3 on other features. X Box doesn’t offer anything more besides in game cross game chat. And in reality you don’t need that, nor is it helpful for gaming. If it is the same game sure, but when one person is playing halo while the other is playing gears, I hardly see how that is helpful, maybe nice, but it has nothing to do with gaming. Besides it is called a phone which is generally free unlimited now adays, or a computer chat program, which is 100% free comparable. There are times where the online is better on xbox, but today it is rare.

    • Southern says:

      If PS3 and WII offer it free, so can M$.

      Of course they CAN.. but if people will pay for it, they’re going to charge it.

      Just like with Netflix; MS doesn’t HAVE to require Gold Memberships in order to stream Netflix, they do it BECAUSE IT MAKES PEOPLE BUY LIVE (and they’ve admitted it).

      This is why I don’t have an XBox or a 360.. I’m perfectly happy with my Wii & PS3.

    • JohnnyP says:

      PC FTW. I dont pay to play any games online (some people do) Most of the good games are cross platform. On PC you can mod games as there are games that allow it. If there is a patch I download it (though with internet connected consoles thats a little less relevant. I can stream Netflix watch dvds I can use a xbox 360 controller too.

    • Illusio26 says:

      online play with the wii is a joke (this is coming from a wii and 360 owner)

  2. hereisaaron says:

    This would be great. I bet I can talk my parents in to paying for this for me and my brothers as some sort of present. We all live together and have 4 active Xbox’s in the house. One each for me and my two brothers and one in the living room for media center and when we all play together.

  3. [MG]LooseCannon says:

    “It’s not coming out until November, possibly so the company can think of a way to prevent four friends who live apart from splitting a family membership.”

    I’m sure this will be tied to IP address and/or console ID. The idea is going to be to give a break to people that all play in the same household from the same console(s).

    • The Brad says:

      Nope, no restrictions on what console or IP address you are logged in from of the four accounts.

      The way they keep it from 4 people splitting the ID is by having the main account in charge of distributing the Microsoft points. The other accounts have to request points from the main account or they can purchase the points by using the credit card of the main account holder. Not so great having your buddy buy $50 in Microsoft points on your credit card.

      • ganzhimself says:

        So buying a 4000 point card at [insert retail location here] would still have to be routed through the main account, then “allocated” out to the account? It wouldn’t be that bad for me and my buddies if it worked that way, as we could work out a system. Of course you don’t get immediate access to your points, so that could be a pain.

  4. temporaryscars says:

    Only chumps pay the asking price for Live. I haven’t payed over $35 yet, and at that price, the service is well worth it.

    • GMFish says:

      I just got one at Amazon for only $29.99 with free shipping (of course).

    • Alvis says:

      One could easily make the argument that paying at ALL for online gaming is for chumps.

      • temporaryscars says:

        I can’t expect Microsoft to provide this service for free. It costs them money to maintain so I’m glad to contribute.

        • ktjamm says:

          Maybe they could just make a games that allow you to multi-play without using live at all? you know, like, not bundling features with live at all. I won’t pay for online play, and likewise, I won’t allow myself to be forced to use LIVE for said play.

          • sqlrob says:

            The games don’t use Live for online play. Live is just a matchmaking service, it’s all Peer to Peer

    • hereisaaron says:

      Agreed. The One year cards are the way to go. I’ve found them on clearance at target before for $25, but the Amazon $30 deal right now is good too.

    • ganzhimself says:

      Amen… I think I paid $60 for two 12 month cards a few months ago… Can’t quite go wrong there.

  5. jiubreyn says:

    :-T This helps those who need 4 XBOX Live accounts, but what about single users? My bro also uses Live, but that makes two of us — still doesn’t help. Booo. /thumbs down

  6. mac-phisto says:

    great, now if they can only figure out how to configure their service so that xboxes sharing the same internet connection don’t screw with each other, that would be awesome!

    • Deezul_AwT says:

      Works fine for me when I have 2 360s on line at the same time. Sounds like a router/ISP issue.

      • mac-phisto says:

        no, it’s not. it’s an xbox live issue. if you notice, when you play with 2 xboxes online at the same time, one will have an open NAT & one will have a moderate NAT (if you’re lucky), or you’ll end up with 2 moderate NATs, or you’ll end up with a moderate & a strict NAT.

        this definitely affects gameplay – i’m surprised you haven’t heard of the problem yet.

        generally it works ok, but sometimes it doesn’t (i’ve had the most trouble w/ the modern warfare series of games).

        • f5alcon says:

          its not an issue with live per se, its an issue with two devices wanting the same network resources, they need to add multiple port options or some sort of xbox server where all lan xboxes route traffic through.

  7. RobHoliday says:

    Newegg just had the 12 month Xbox Live cards for $29.99 and free shipping. I got 2 before they were sold out. Except for my first one, I have never paid more than $35 for 12 months of Xbox Live. I currently have 3 Xbox 360’s, 10 Live accounts with 4 of them Gold accounts.

  8. BobSalawalatski says:

    Is $4.17 per month for this service really gouging?

  9. Supes says:

    Not such a great deal. It’s pretty easy to get a 12-month card for only $30, and if you search carefully there’s also $25 cards out there on occasion.

    Honestly, I’ve always thought families should be allowed to simply make free extra X-Box Live Gold usernames on the same unit. I mean, my roommate and I both play lots of Street Fighter IV online, but it’s stupid we’d have to pay for two accounts to track our stats separately (especially since we’re playing on only one machine).

    • Deezul_AwT says:

      It IS a great deal, since I now only have to buy point cards for the family and can reward my sons with points. That’s something that everyone has wanted for the longest time. I don’t want to give my sons 1600 point cards all the time, because sometimes 400 or 800 points is all they need.

    • Deezul_AwT says:

      It IS a great deal, since I now only have to buy point cards for the family and can reward my sons with points. That’s something that everyone has wanted for the longest time. I don’t want to give my sons 1600 point cards all the time, because sometimes 400 or 800 points is all they need.

  10. Rask says:

    I’d really love to see a charts of adjectives used in conjecture with company names in articles.

    Seems withever Microsoft is mentioned, words like gauging, epic failure, and “congratulations (?) to Microsoft for doing something right.”. (And these are all just from the first page of results searching Consumerist for the term Microsoft)

    I realise that you journo-blogger types love Apple and Google but a bit if even-handedness would be appreciated.

    • Twonkey says:

      Rask, asking for even-handedness in journalism is like asking for a goose that lays golden eggs. It’s just not going to happen no matter how many shooting stars you wish upon for it to happen. Now, being that The Consumerist’s editors aren’t journalists by any stretch of the imagination, your request is even less likely to bear fruit. These folks are bloggers. Sure they blog about stuff that’s helpful to the rest of us, but they’re not paragons of journalistic virtue, and don’t have to be. As annoying as it sometimes may be, they editorialize, and that’s not likely to change.

      So just ignore what you feel are pot-shots at what’s pretty apparently your favorite vidja-game box, and take only the pertinent information from the story. It’s all good, baby!

  11. DanRydell says:

    Gouging not found

  12. crashrider says:

    So you need to pay microsoft to use microsoft servers for all Xbox titles and you need to pay for it using microsoft “credits” and not actual money?

    Still don’t see an advantage to Xbox Live…

    Seems similar to a service like Vonage. You pay Vonage for a “service” that you yourself have to provide the base service to. aka: an internet connection. so your paying vonage on top of what your paying for internet service. I think i’ll stick to iChat or Skype or gTalk. All free services. Just like i’ll stick with my PS3 and free online gaming.

    • Deezul_AwT says:

      Yeah, remember that free PS3 service when Sony decides to make PS+ required for multiplayer gaming starting with the PS4, if not 2012 on the PS3.

    • DanRydell says:

      Hah, you don’t even realize the absurdity of comparing Vonage to iChat. That’s hilarious. Oh wow.

  13. nakkypoo says:

    I have usually enjoyed reading Consumerist. Lately you’re either treading into territory you know nothing about or you’re making up sensational headlines. I believe that it’s both.

    As they say, so long and thanks for all the fish.

  14. Mike says:

    So I have seen a lot of people in here ask why people pay for XBOX Live when other services are free. As someone who owns multiple consoles I will lay it out:

    1. SIZE MATTERS. First and foremost, if you are a hardcore gamer, size matters. In particular the number of available online players matters. Although I think technically there are now more PSN registered users than XBOX live, I know that PSN users includes anyone who registers their PSP or posts on the online forums, so the numbers are skewed. Last I check there were far more users playing COD 4, the largest online game at the moment, on XBOX than on PS3. When you are playing online for hours you want a larger number of people to play with because on the PS3 you end up having to play with the same douche bags over and over again, simply because there are not as many players to play with. Also, unless you happen to run in a Sony heavy group of friends odds are you have more friends on XBOX Live than PSN.

    2. Wifi Interference. The PS3 comes with wifi built in, which is awesome except for one thing- interference resulting in dropped games. Because XBOX does not come with wifi included there is a far higher percentage of people playing with their XBOXes wired in. This makes a difference because when you are playing a sports game against some kid in a dorm room each time his roommate turns on the microwave you can see a huge lag due to the interference. When it comes to gaming, wired is ALWAYS better performing than wireless, so you want as many of the guys you play with to be hard wired in. To be honest I hate playing sports games online on the PS3 because of the number of drops.

    • Mike says:

      I accidentally hit submit before I was done, whoops.

      Anyway, the user interface with XBOX live is far better for chatting and connecting with friends on XBOX Live than it is PSN. This just makes it much easier to connect with friends which is nice. Sony is infamous for their useless interface:,14309/

      The PS3 is a fine console, I use mine every day. I love the blu ray player. But as someone who has both, I can tell you that if you are serious about online gaming, the XBOX is far better for hardcore gamers.

      That said, if you can play Madden on the Wii, oh man is that fun.

    • sqlrob says:

      WiFi interference. So? Use a network cable, it’s not like the Wii where it’s additional.

      • Mike says:

        What I was talking about was not me, but when I am playing against others who may be using wifi. It is a pain when your buddy uses wifi, it gets interfered with and times out. I alway plug in, but PS3 users are a lot more likely to be using their wifi than XBOX users.

    • mac-phisto says:

      newsflash: those “drops” in sports games are most likely from people who want perfect stats; not people who were dropped b/c they were using wireless access.

      that used to happen all the time in games like madden – you’d get to the end & your competitor would dashboard to keep it from going against his stats as a loss. a lot of the sports games have fixed this since by penalizing dashboarders.

      • Mike says:

        Yes, many people drop out to keep perfect stats, that happens on all consoles. What I am talking about is wifi interference causing drops. The higher the percentage of people using wifi. I know this is the case because it happens with a buddy of mine. He will drop all of a sudden, I call him, turns out that his wife turned on the microwave.

        Because more people use wifi on the PS3 (again, I like the feature of it built in) there are more drops than on a console that has more people who are hard wired. I did not forget that people intentionally disconnect, but they do that on all consoles.

    • AJ_Syrinx says:

      Regarding WiFi interference, the new Xbox 360s have built-in WiFi N. I hope people don’t have too many issues over WiFi. My 360 works fine on Ethernet extended over the house powerlines.

      • Mike says:

        Wireless N is less prone to drops because of the frequencies it runs at, so you should be better off.

  15. sqlrob says:

    There’s a family discount? Funny, I didn’t see anything that would apply to me and my wife.

  16. TrustAvidity says:

    I’d pay for Xbox LIVE over playing for free on my PS3 any day. The services & features offered exclusively on LIVE make it way more than worth it. Also, it’s rarely $50 a year. There is almost always at least one location (Amazon, GS, Best Buy) that have it on sale for $30-$40. To me, you get what you pay for. Lastly, Sony’s may not always be free. They claimed they won’t move online gameplay onto their Plus service that’s $50 a year but they also claimed they would never remove the Other OS feature, so their word needs to be taken with a huge grain of salt.

  17. Sword_Chucks says:

    Too little too late Microsoft, I already bought the games I wanted to play for PC (FREE updates and online play) and I havent touched my xbox since my live membership ran out because Netflix is FREE on Wii and PS3, plus theres FREE online play for those too.

  18. ElisabethinCA says:

    Gouging? Excuse me? I have been a gamer my whole life, I have worked for Sony and Sega. When we were little we never fought over the remote, we fought over the game controller.
    I have just about every platform out there and my favorite is Xbox 360. The quality and what you get for a few dollars a month is worth every single cent. I have a PS3 that sits and collects dust. My Wii gets used daily but only for Wii Fit. Their online may be free but you get what you pay for…just about nothing.
    The time I get to spend online chatting and playing w/ family and friends all over the world is worth it. The exclusive games and DLC you can’t get on any other platform outweigh also outweigh the cost. We live in a world of entitlement where everybody wants everything for free. Whine whine whine…”I’m not paying a few dollars a month for quality entertainment…I’m just going to sit playing crappy games and even crappier online service because I get it for free and I am entitled to everything for free….well…if that is all your worth…go for it lol
    Now, the family pack they are coming out with is long overdue. I don’t think you should penalize someone that owns more than one 360. I have two and if I want to play in the other room it is a hassle to recover my gamertag. So that I hope is also fixed…
    But stop whining about having to pay. You won’t work for free..why should the Xbox Live employees? I would rather pay a few dollars for quality entertainment then put up with crap just because it is free.