Over Half of Xbox Live Accounts Were Gold in 2008

Though Microsoft refuses to provide the exact breakdown between free and paid Xbox Live accounts, Seattle P-I reports that over half of the Xbox Live accounts worldwide were Gold-level accounts as of February 2008.

At that time, 56% of the worldwide Xbox Live subscriptions were of the Gold variety, a figure that dipped from February 2007's 60%. Gold subscriptions were a bit higher in North America, with 60% of North American Xbox Live accounts Gold in February 2008--a statistic that was said to have "remained relatively flat" over the previous year.

The figures come from an internal Mircosoft spreadsheet viewed by Seattle P-I.

A Gold-level subscription enables players to play games online with other Xbox 360 owners, while the free Silver accounts enable owners to access downloadable content. Both the PlayStation 3 and Wii provide online multiplayer free of charge.

To upgrade to Gold, account holders can buy a yearly ($50), three-month ($20), or month-long ($8) subscription, with many Xbox 360 games and the system itself supplying owners with a brief trial of Xbox Live Gold services.

As the numbers are nearly a year old, they don't account for the November launch of the New Xbox Experience, which delivered a new interface to Xbox 360 owners and new functionality to Gold subscribers, including Netflix movie streaming and photo sharing.

"We've said before that Xbox LIVE is experiencing incredible growth; in January we had more new LIVE members join than any other month in the history of Xbox LIVE," said Microsoft, which refused to comment on the specific figures. "With more than 17 million active members, a majority of whom are paying members, LIVE is a rich social entertainment and gaming experience that is unmatched in the industry."