In an e-mail to Xbox Live subscribers and an announcement on Xbox "SpokesPlayer" Major Nelson's blog, Microsoft announced that starting Nov. 1 the price for a year of Xbox Live service is going up to $60.
Microsoft defended the $10 increase on the service, required for online gaming or to watch Netflix on your Xbox 360. It pointed out the static cost of the service over the past several years and increased entertainment and content options being added i the fall, such as Hulu Plus and live sports on ESPN.
What Microsoft so casually tacked on in the fine print of its e-mail, next to an asterisk, is that most of these new services require extra subscription fees or only work with select Internet providers. In the case of Hulu Plus, users will have to shell out $10 a month to enjoy any of these new features and if you hope to catch live sports on your Xbox 360 this fall, you will need an ESPN3 affiliated Internet provider. Problem is that one of the nation's largest, Time Warner, is not one of them.
The only good news for users who can't or won't take advantage of these new offers is that if you purchase right now you can save $20 on your Xbox Live subscription -- even if you are in the middle of a subscription year. Up until midnight on Oct. 31, Microsoft is offering a 12-month Xbox Live subscription for $39.99.
You can check to see when your current account expires by signing in to Xbox Live and you can take advantage of the direct-from-Microsoft sale by visiting the PriceLock promotion page. Note that even though Microsoft refers to this deal as a Pricelock, you will be automatically renewed at whatever the current rate is when your subscription expires.
While you can only take advantage of the promotion once per account, if you want to stack up your subscriptions to extend them, you can buy 12-month Xbox Live subscription cards from retailers like Walmart, Newegg and Amazon for around $40. After you renew through the PriceLock deal, you can add these subscriptions onto your account to actually lock in savings. Microsoft doesn't list a limit on how far you can extend your subscription, but from past experience you should be able to stack at least 2 years, the Microsoft deal and a card for one of these retailers to extend your subscription until 2012. This saves $10 a year off the current rate, and $20 a year off the increased rate.
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