Xbox Live comes in two “flavors” – one is free and the other is paid. They are known as Silver and Gold. Although there has been no public mention of this, I anticipate the offerings to remain the same when Xbox One releases later this year. I’ve discussed the differences between Silver and Gold before. The main points include: Gold is required for using most apps, such as Netflix. Gold is also required for multiplayer online play.
But what does it really cost? Well, a while back the official list price of Xbox Live went up to $59.99 for a 12 month membership. You can buy 30 and 90 day subscriptions as well, but you get the best value buying the full year. The good news is, you can usually find a better deal online. First, make sure you disable automatic renewal (sometimes this doesn’t work and you have to call support). Once you are certain your credit card isn’t going to be charged automatically (and it won’t be charged until the last possible day of your previous membership expiring, so don’t worry about automatic renewal happening too frequently), then head online to find some better prices than the direct Microsoft pricing.
Be sure to check Newegg, eBay, and Amazon for better deals. Amazon gives you the option of getting an online code emailed to you so that you can redeem it immediately, or have a card physically mailed to you for a few bucks less, if you can wait for shipping.