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A lot of people with Kinect are new to the online world that is Xbox. Xbox Live is the most social platform and it's really easy to meet friends and play games with them. I wanted to share some tips for those that are a bit intimidated by the whole notion of online gaming.

What's the difference between Xbox Live Free and Xbox Live Gold?

There are 2 types of Xbox Live accounts that you can create: 1) Xbox Live Free and 2) Xbox Live Gold.

You do not need Xbox Live Gold for most things. If all you are looking for is playing some games, watching some videos, leaderboards, downloading demos, etc., Xbox Live Free is more than good enough. You still have full access to the Marketplace. You can still buy games. You can still download demos to the games. You still can buy the $1-3 games at the Xbox Live Indie Games marketplace (XBLIG). You still have full rights to everything. There are also free weekends when you have access to online multiplayer, Netflix, etc.

That said, Xbox Live Gold is more than worth it.

Why should I consider getting an Xbox Live Gold membership?

If you really like gaming and you really like the communal aspect, Xbox Live Gold is worth it. Just the party chat feature alone is worth it. All your friends can be doing different things and still be able to chat with each other. One person can be watching Netflix, another can be playing Kinect Sports, another can be playing Dance Central 2, etc. and everyone can talk to each other.

Even within the same game, it's worth it. Let's say you and your friends are playing Gears of War 2. Because of the party chat feature, you can talk the entire time you are at the dashboard or at the menus of the game, so you can discuss what game mode you can play, what map to play, etc.

And you have full control over chatting. You control who you want to listen to, who can listen to you, you can mute on an individual basis or on a global scale. No more dealing with obnoxious people acting like obnoxious people. Just listen and chat with your friends. I could be talking about how my day is going while I'm playing Kinect Sports and my friend is playing Halo Anniversary while some guy may be cursing at me in a table tennis match but because I set chat to friends only, I will never know what that guy may be saying. I'm so much in love with party chat that I can't go back to the old system.

There are so many reasons why Xbox Live Gold is worth it outside of the multiplayer gaming. In fact, multiplayer gaming is near the bottom of my list (party chat is the top).

With a Gold membership you have access to all the multimedia apps such as ESPN, Netflix, Syfy, Facebook, Twitter, Last.FM, etc. Besides the game, there's the social stuff. You can do video chat with people who have Windows Live Messenger or with other Kinect people. If you want to talk with people but not have to worry about whether you have bed hair or didn't iron your clothes yet, you can chat via Avatar Kinect. Soon, they're adding Skype for Kinect.

A lot of media providers have signed on. You can get Verizon Fios with TV, broadband Internet, phone, Xbox Live Gold, and Halo Anniversary for $90/month.

AT&T also has a Uverse package where your 360 acts as the cable box and you have notifications and interactivity (like when your friends log on, you'll see it on the screen. Comcast is about to debut their Xbox package as well. A lot of other providers are waiting to debut their package. And there's rumors of a la carte programming but we'll have to wait and see if that's true. And I haven't even covered most of the media options on the Xbox.

Seriously, the Xbox is the most social system around. that's worth the price of admission. any system that let's you just hang out with your friends and play games is a good thing. the party chat feature alone is worth the cost of Xbox Live Gold. Sometimes I'll boot up the Xbox just to talk to people. No gaming involved. It's weird to see people just sit at the dash and talk but it happens all the time.

When your friends turn on their Xbox, you'll see notifications tell you so. You can send text messages, voice messages, etc. to them. If they load a game, you'll get a note if you or him has a beacon for it so that if you're interested in playing it as well. And you can always check the status of your friends to see what they are doing. But if you want your privacy, you can also change your settings so that people do not know what you are doing.

I'm not a competitive person. I don't go online to play to get the most kills. I just want to chill with my friends while playing a game. If I wanted to play by myself or play in a virtual room filled by a bunch of strangers, I would stick to my legacy systems or play on the other systems.

Gold isn't a bullet point kind of thing. It's a lifestyle. I could be trying out a demo and then while I'm playing it, I tell my friends in the party to go check out this cool new game and the whole group goes and downloads it. My friend tells me he just watched a cool vid in youtube and we go to youtube to watch it together. We can have a party and someone drops in, and everyone says hi. It's like being back in college where it's so easy to meet new people and just chill. No barriers. Just have fun.

All it takes is finding one great friend online (either someone you know in real life or by random luck or through a site like 123kinect). From there, you have a launching pad to meet a bunch of other great gamers.

And the cool thing about Kinect is a lot of casual people play it so you aren't having the headbanging teens who scream expletives at you and are uber competitive. Though with the party chat feature, you never have to hear them.

What is the cost of Xbox Live Gold really?

1 year of Xbox Live Gold has a manufacturer suggested retail price of $59.99. But seriously, if you're paying full MSRP for Xbox Live Gold, you're not looking for deals. there are always deals and sales around. I fully expect to pay between $35 and $50 for a year's worth of Xbox Live Gold. there's the $1/month deals. the $7.99 for 3 months deals, etc. etc. And for how much you get for XBL Gold, and at a price cheaper than a Starbucks drink, it's not a bad deal.

And you can always add time to any membership. So let's say you just started an Xbox Live Gold membership but a new sale came out for $37/month. You can buy multiple 1 year blocks and add them to your current account.

If there are multiple people in your family that would like an Xbox Live Gold account, it's best to get the family pack which is $99/year for 4 people. Unfortunately, you can't combine, meaning, for example, you can't do something like think you can get 2 years for 2 people. It's only 1 year for 4 people. If you plan on sharing a family plan with friends, know that only 1 person manages the account so everyone better trust that one person. And if any of the 3 people buy excessive amounts of DLC, then that can strain the relationship of the group.

How does the Xbox Live Family Gold Pack work?

Refer to the following links:
Xbox LIVE Gold Family Pack
Join an Xbox LIVE Gold Family Pack
Add or remove Gold Family Pack members
Xbox LIVE Gold Family Pack FAQ
Troubleshoot Gold Family Pack issues

If you are an existing Xbox Live Gold member, and would like to switch over to the Family Pack with secondary accounts, you get a prorated discount on the purchase of a Family Pack. This discount will be based on how many months remain on your existing Gold Membership and the amount of the discount varies by region. You will see the discount amount during the checkout process before your order is final.

When an existing Xbox LIVE Gold member is added to a Family Pack, the remaining time on their Gold membership benefits the whole family! For every 2 months remaining on their current Gold membership, the entire family receives an extra month of Xbox LIVE Gold. For example, if your child has 6 months remaining on their existing Xbox LIVE Gold membership, when you add him/her to your Family Pack, all four of the individual Xbox LIVE Gold accounts available in your Family Pack will be extended by an additional 3 months. If you have 2 children who have 4 and 6 months of Gold remaining, respectively, on their existing Xbox LIVE Gold subscriptions, all 4 of the individual Xbox LIVE Gold accounts available in your Family Pack will be extended by an additional 5 months.

The Xbox LIVE account used to purchase a Gold Family Pack membership is the primary Family Pack account. All other Xbox LIVE accounts associated with the Family Pack membership are secondary accounts.

Only the primary Family Pack member can purchase points, making it easier for a parent to manage his or her family’s entertainment budget.

The primary member on the Gold Family Pack membership can give Microsoft Points to other family members (secondary members), so that they can make purchases on Xbox LIVE.

Secondary family members cannot use credit or debit cards to purchase Microsoft Points. Instead, secondary account members can redeem a Microsoft Points card (available at retail locations), or the primary member can give points to secondary members.

Secondary accounts on the Gold Family Pack don’t have a separate Xbox LIVE membership, but they can add other Microsoft services, such as Zune, to their Windows Live ID and gamertag. The Zune Pass and other service subscriptions are not shared among the Gold Family Pack members.

If a secondary account adds Microsoft Points by redeeming them under that account, the points below to that secondary account.

If the secondary account makes a purchase with their points, they get subtracted from that account, not the primary account. The primary account can always provide allowance points at the primary account holder's discretion.

Purchases made by the secondary account belong to the secondary account and not the family account. In terms of the games, any account can play that game on the 360 system that the buyer made the purchase and the game can be played while online or offline.

But for any other consoles in the household, only the account that made the purchase can play on those other systems and that person must be logged into Xbox Live in order to play it (the buyer cannot play the game on another system while offline).

Can multiple people share an account?

It's possible to share accounts but when you share accounts, know that only one person can be logged into that account at a time. So if your son was living across the country on his Xbox and you are on your Xbox, it's not really feasible to share an account because you can't predict when who would be online. Also, by sharing an account, you lose the ability to maintain independent progress. Take a fitness game, for example. Let's say both of you play EA Sports Active 2 on your Xbox. Well, each of you will want to track your own progress, with your weight, height, diet, calendar, etc. If you're sharing the account, you can't have independent progress. Or if you're playing a game, you can't have separate save games. It's only 1 saved game per account.

What is the online experience like in a Kinect game?

In terms of online gaming, it really depends on the game. For most of the Kinect games, you are sharing the screen rather than splitscreen. It looks the same as if you were in the room together playing together.

Here's an example from Kinect Adventures:

[Image: 6a00d8341c630a53ef0148c796ff15970c-550wi]

so for example player 1 could be the person on the left and player 2 who is across the world could be the person on the right.

With online play, you can have any mixture of players, depending on the game. For example, in Kinect Sports, you can have 4 players playing Volleyball. In one living room, you have 2 players and they find an online match to find another team with 2 players. Or if you don't want to be matched with strangers, you can send an invite to your friends to play. Or wait for them to send you an invite.

Unfortunately, there are not currently a lot of online Kinect games. some obvious ones are Kinect Sports, Kinect Sports Season 2, Kinect Adventures, Zumba Fitness, The Biggest Loser, Winter Stars, Michael Phelps, Push the Limit, Deca Sports Freedom (my friend is begging for me to get this to play with her online), Forza Motorsport 4, Halo Anniversary, Mass Effect 3, and Binary Domain. Apologies if I left out any of them.

Some of the games are alternating and some are versus. So for example, if you and tabbyprincess played bowling together in Kinect Sports, you would alternate because that's how bowling works. But if you're doing track and field together, you're both lining up at the starting line and sprinting against each other at the shot of the starting pistol.

The ability to meet random people online to play while you are playing the game depends on the game's popularity and when you are playing it. For example, Kinect Sports is very popular and very easy to find people to play online. So if you want to play volleyball, you select to play an online volleyball match and then wait until it finds a person to play with. then as you meet and talk to people that you like, you add them to your friends list so that you are not depending on random luck to find someone. Or you can use sites like 123kinect. We do have a thread here where people list their gamertags so that people can play together.

For a game like Zumba Fitness, from my personal experience (I live on the West Coast in California), the only reliable dance people at night (9PM) are my friends. Otherwise, it's a ghost town since it's midnight for the East Coast. Of course, if I was willing to dance at 2AM Pacific time, I would have access to many Europeans who are just starting to dance but I can't be exercising that late at night or early in the morning. If I was a stay at home mom, I could find people fairly easily during the day around 10:30AM (I was sick one day and stayed home and found people to exercise with easily).

What is the typical scenario for playing an online game?

So a typical Xbox day is such... You load up Kinect Sports. You want to play table tennis. You choose to find an Xbox Live match. It searches for someone to play against. You choose to chat or not chat with the person. You play the game. You find them to be very nice and cordial. You send them a friend invite. They add you. You can then send text messages to each other, voice messages, etc. Schedule private matches. etc. etc.

How do I tell my friends what games I really want to play?

Now Xbox Live has a new feature called Beacons. This is where you select a game that you really want to play. It basically advertises to people on your friends list what you really want to play. If your beacon matches up with their beacon, you get a unique message that so-and-so person wants to play that game, regardless of what game they are currently playing.

But even if no one has the same beacon as you, by setting the beacon, if someone looks at your profile, they can know what games you really want to play.

You can set up to 3 beacons currently.

It's hard to understand how cool the beacons feature is unless you had Xbox Live before. In the old days, you had to be inside the game you want to play in order for people to know you want to play that game. You can understand the severe time constraint that is for the both of you. If I want to play Zumba Fitness, I had to load Zumba Fitness and hope one of my ZF friends saw me load the game to play with me. Or I had to leave text messages to coordinate times to dance together. It's like going to an empty gym room and hoping some gym members walk by and see you inside it and joins the room with you to dance together.

Now, I can set a beacon to play Zumba. Then go about my normal Xbox day and play whatever I want (Disneyland Adventures, Gears of War 3, etc.). Then if one of my friends logs in and sees that I want to play Zumba, they can then send me an invite to actually play the game. So no one has to wait around anymore.

You can even set a message to your beacon. For example, if you want to do Zumba at 9PM on Friday, you can put that on your beacon so when your friends see your beacon, it says that so it gives them time to work their schedule to meet yours.

The other benefit was that in the old days, the only other feature you had was the "compare games" feature. So you look on your friends game list and see that they have Zumba. But let's say you don't really know this friend (found off of Xbox Live). You send them a game invite to play Zumba, only to find out they rented Zumba, played it for a bit, and then returned it. So although it shows up on their games list, they don't have the game any more to play. So you would get a message from them that they no longer own the game (even though it's still in their games list). The games list only list games (automatically) that the person has played. There is no ability to create a games list manually of the games you only own. So this is another reason beacons are useful.

If you can't schedule time to play with so-and-so friend, Kinect Sports season 2 has the ability to send challenges. In addition to the online multiplayer, it has a feature called challenges. This is where you select a minigame or event and you challenge someone over it. For example, if I challenge my friend in Smart Darts and I score 56 seconds, my friend has to beat that time to win or else I win. This doesn't have to happen in real time which is a boon. Let's say you and your friend cannot schedule time to play against each other online (family commitments, work, etc.). Now you can play against each other at different times of the day. It's like the leaderboards but it's more interactive and specific.

What's the best way to talk to friends while playing a Kinect game?

With the Kinect, you can use that for voice chatting but if you value your friends and their ears, you'll get a wireless headset like this one:

[Image: 31BkdmWJZeL._AA300_.jpg]

The reason is when you're playing Kinect, you're about 5-9 feet away from the kinect's 4 mics. The kinect mics are fine when you are doing video chat or whatever. To your friends, you'll sound like you're on speakerphone. A distant speakerphone. But it's acceptable.

But the minute you play a game with loud music like an exercise game or dance game, you'll have a hard time hearing your friends and they'll have a hard time hearing you. When you use the Kinect as your mic, your friends will come through the TV speakers amidst the noise. Also, your TV noise (music, etc.) will go into the Kinect mic to your friend. You're caught in a neverending loop. If you turn down the TV when your friend complains, you'll have a hard time hearing them because you hear them through the TV which you've turned down to keep them from getting mad at you. The other issue is the Kinect has noise canceling which works great for most things but with loud music and your voice talking, the noise canceling ends up chopping up your words.

[Image: Xbox360Controller_WiredHeadset-150x150.png]

A cheap wired headset is what is used for normal gaming. But the cheap wired headset plugs into your 360 controller. So if you're going that route, for Kinect, you would have to wear something like a fanny pack to hold the controller so that you could wear the headset. Not very nice when you're jumping around with a controller around your waist.

[Image: -mc0mL-fVMiVmWgpL7pY4u4Xc6X90Xr4DGFYkPsO...m98RQDeTz8]

Microsoft does sell a bluetooth headset now. In fact, it replaced the aforementioned headset. However, the bluetooth headset only has a standard hoop design that doesn't work well with the jumping around you do with the Kinect.

The aforementioned older wireless headset wraps around your ear. You can be doing situps in your exercise game and it holds onto your ear. A bluetooth headset flops around your head which is fine when you're sitting in a chair, not when you're jumping around.

What is Xbox Live Rewards? Is that the same as Xbox Live Gold?


Xbox Live Rewards is a program to reward you for the things you do on Xbox Live. You can earn reward points in the form of Microsoft points, avatar awards, sweepstakes prizes, etc. You are not automatically signed up for the rewards program by merely being an Xbox Live member. It's a separate signup. Note that reward points are the same as Microsoft points. 400 reward points = 400 Microsoft points

Here are the basic rewards. In addition to the basic rewards, new rewards are offered every month so it's advisable to regularly check what rewards are available.

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Do you know if there a way to link an xbox gamer profile to an existing live account without losing the acheivements?
(03-08-2012 01:50 AM)Ken Wrote: [ -> ]Do you know if there a way to link an xbox gamer profile to an existing live account without losing the acheivements?

Do you mean you want to change the Live account that is attached to the Xbox Live gamertag profile?


Switch your gamertag to a different Windows Live ID

You can change the Windows LIVE ID associated with your gamertag. Here’s how:

1) Sign in using your Xbox LIVE gamertag.
2) Go to Settings, and then select Account.
3) Go to Your Information and then select Windows Live ID.
4) Select Change Windows Live ID.

Do one of the following:

- If you have another Windows Live ID, select Yes.
- If you do not have another Windows Live ID, go to Windows Live Sign In, and click Sign up. Once you have another Windows Live ID, select Yes and continue with the next step.

Note Your Microsoft Points balance will automatically be transferred to the new Windows Live ID.

- Enter the password for the Windows Live ID that is currently associated with your gamertag, and then select Sign in.
- Enter the email address and the password for the new Windows Live ID that you want to associate with your gamertag, and then select Sign in.
- Select Yes, change to change the Windows Live ID associated with your Xbox LIVE account.
- Select Update Contact Information to update your contact information or Done to finish.


(03-08-2012 02:53 AM)dirtyvu Wrote: [ -> ]
(03-08-2012 01:50 AM)Ken Wrote: [ -> ]Do you know if there a way to link an xbox gamer profile to an existing live account without losing the acheivements?

Do you mean you want to change the Live account that is attached to the Xbox Live gamertag profile?

First of all, thanks for your response. It was far more than I expected.

A bigger explanation of the issue is this. My daughter has a gamer profile on the xbox but no xbox live account. On my computer, I got her an xboxlivefamily account with the family gold membership. I would now like to "link" or associate the two without destroying all her acheivements.

If I sign in as her on the xbox and go to settings, the account option is not available since she does not have an xbox live account.

If I try to sign her up for xbox live, I need an email address but when I use the one associated with the xboxlivefamily account, it says that the account is already assocated with another gamertag and cannot be used.

Does this make any sense?

Thanks again for your efforts.
(03-09-2012 02:01 AM)Ken Wrote: [ -> ]First of all, thanks for your response. It was far more than I expected.

A bigger explanation of the issue is this. My daughter has a gamer profile on the xbox but no xbox live account. On my computer, I got her an xboxlivefamily account with the family gold membership. I would now like to "link" or associate the two without destroying all her acheivements.

If I sign in as her on the xbox and go to settings, the account option is not available since she does not have an xbox live account.

If I try to sign her up for xbox live, I need an email address but when I use the one associated with the xboxlivefamily account, it says that the account is already assocated with another gamertag and cannot be used.

Does this make any sense?

Thanks again for your efforts.

What I would do is convert her gamertag profile (which is not attached to an Xbox Live account) to the free 1 month Xbox Live Gold account. Then add her to the family plan (this is assuming you have not already maxed out the 4 members).

If you already have 4 people under the family plan, remove one of them and replace them with her new Xbox Live Gold account.

Refer to the following links:
Xbox LIVE Gold Family Pack
Join an Xbox LIVE Gold Family Pack
Add or remove Gold Family Pack members
Xbox LIVE Gold Family Pack FAQ
Troubleshoot Gold Family Pack issues

Note that you cannot cheat the system by rotating people through the family plan as there are time limits about switching around people.


Thanks. I figured it out. I stopped trying to use the account I set up on my computer. If you have a family plan then under the family options of my account I was able to add my kids without having an email address for them.

Once I found that, it was easy but . . . wow . . . finding some of this stuff is not.

Thanks again
Cool! Glad you fixed your problem!

I'd like to keep this thread clean so for anyone else out there, try not to put any questions to this thread. If you would like to add something that you learned, please feel free to contribute. The more, the merrier! Ken's solution was something that I wouldn't have thought of so it's awesome for him to share.

Do not put guesses or conjecture. Put something that you learned yourself and would be helpful to other people.

Too many times people are having problems and they end up spending a lot of time trying to get a solution and when they finally do get a solution, they don't share with the world to help others who are having the same problems. It's time we all help each other out! Big Grin

And making a thread full of conversations and chatter just makes it harder to find the solutions. Do not create a post to compliment the solution givers as that merely makes the thread longer than it has to be and makes it harder to find the solution. If you would like to thank them, use the "thank" feature or send them a private message.

We can also make more threads for discussions of any given problem and then put the summary of the solution in this thread.
I'm going to post this in a few threads so people don't miss it as it's an AWESOME offer! If you buy a 6 month Xbox Live Gold subscription via the Xbox 360 dashboard then you'll get 5 FREE GAMES!!! The games are Fable 3, The Gunstringer, Halo Reach, Kinect Sports and Toy Soldiers. You get codes for the downloadable versions though, they don't send you them on discs. Plus it's a limited time offer, you only have until April 3rd if you want the free games. (And it might be UK only, so if you're not from the UK then check your dashboard to see if you can find the offer.) Unfortunately this is only available to people upgrading to Xbox Live Gold, it's not available to existing Gold members, so you can't just renew early (or just renew, if your subscription is about to run out) and get the offer. Sad Also, the offer is only valid for 6 month Gold subscriptions that are purchased via the Xbox 360 dashboard. Buying a 6 month subscription isn't nearly as good value for money as buying a 12 month subscription, but you do get 5 FREE GAMES!!! Big Grin


[Image: Xbox_Live_Gold_offer.jpg]
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If you're not an Xbox Live Rewards member, become one! Don't confuse being an Xbox Live member with being in the rewards program. It's a separate enrollment.

Don't forget about the current promotion either. To earn 300 Microsoft points, you have to do 3 things within the month of April:

1) can play 2 hours of Kinect or 10 hours of online multiplayer or spend 800 Microsoft points on game-related items
2) play 10 hours of video (Zune, Netflix, Crackle, ESPN, etc.) or spend 400 Microsoft points on movie or TV content
3) play 1 hour of Video Kinect, Facebook, or Youtube
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