How much does Xbox Live cost?

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.

Password safety: you're NOT getting a free Xbox or PS4

A group named XboxLIVEAvatarGear on Facebook recently posted the above picture. Although the website has been shut down, it brings up a good topic that we should talk about this month, as I anticipate many, many more scam sites to start popping up.

The point of XLAG’s post on Facebook was to alert people to a website called XboxGifts.com – there’s nothing there, now, don’t worry. But the website looked identical to Xbox.com and surved one purpose: to promise you free things for forking over your Microsoft Account ID and password. No gifts would come, only pain of dealing with your account being hijacked and the possibility of Microsoft points and games being purchased under your ID, then charged to your credit card. Sites like this pop up all the time, but when the release of a big game, or a new console is around the corner, scam sites more than double in frequency.

With the upcoming announcement of the next Xbox console, you can bet there will be sites promising your free consoles, beta previews, insider news, etc… all if you just log in with your Microsoft account! Do yourself a favor, only get your news from trusted sources… say like Kotaku, or Joystiq, or Unscripted 360, and don’t put your Microsoft password anywhere that isn’t Microsoft.com or Xbox.com. Watch the address bar at the top of your web browser closely, make sure you know you’re on Xbox.com. I would even suggest people worried about this type of scam enable smart screen in Internet Explorer.

#XboxReveal is May 21st, 2013

I didn’t have an Xbox Tip of the Week for you this morning. But I did remember that there was some Xbox related news I wanted to share with you!

The unveiling of what I still call the Xbox 365 will take place on May 21st, 2013. Microsoft is calling the event the #XboxReveal – and some of the pictures floating around include a simple flat “X” with a circle around it (highly similar to a vintage X-Men logo!. The circle around the X just makes me think my Xbox 365 name is even more accurate. We’ll see. You can bet I’ll be tuning in!

Microsoft now allows two-factor authentication

Want to prevent your Xbox Live account from being hacked? This is the best way. Microsoft, this week, unveiled two-factor authentication. Major Nelson already has a guide for setting up two factor authentication on your Xbox 360. Two factor authentication requires another device, like a mobile phone, which will provide a password to you so that when your Xbox 360 prompts for this extra password, you check your device for the randomly generated password and enter it.

Microsoft TechNet has an article detailing how two-factor authentication works with your Microsoft account (formerly known as your LiveID).