Xbox 360 FAQ, part 2 - Xbox Live
Will I be able to keep my existing Live account and gamertag?
Yes. Existing Xbox Live users automatically get Gold membership to Xbox Live. The transfer process happens when you first plug in your console; you'll need the details you signed up to Live with.
Is the friends list limit still 100?
Yes. However, you'll be able to view your friends' friends lists too, which might help!
What extra features will I have access to?
With Xbox Live Gold, you can have a one-on-one conversation with a friend, even during a single-player game. There's a feedback system so you can report other players for both good and bad experiences, which will help tailor your matchmaking results. There's also the ability to complain about other players.
Matchmaking is based on the TrueSkill system, which takes your skill level into account to find opponents of similar calibre; if you're playing unranked games, your Gamer Zone is taken into account. You can also select to "avoid" or "prefer" certain gamers, so you are more likely to get matched up with people you want to play with.
Your game achievements are shared online for some friendly competition with other gamers, and if you want to stand back from the action for a while, you can enter spectator mode to sit back and watch others game. PGR3 supports it at launch, but we might find more titles supporting it soon. There will be official online tournaments and you also get access to the Xbox Live Marketplace which allows you to purchase and download new content.
I don't have a Live account, will I be able to use the online features?
You automatically get a Silver account which allows you to communicate with friends online and shop for content as well as download patches. There will be free trials for you to preview Xbox Live Gold, and you'll get the gaming achievements and stats too, but--crucially--you won't be able to actually play online.
Can I change my gamertag?
One of the much-touted features of Xbox Live on the 360 is the fact that yes, gamertags can be changed. It'll cost you, though -- 800 Microsoft Points.
If I am running an Xbox game on my 360, can I play with people who are using the same game but on an Xbox?
How does the marketplace work? Do I need a credit card?
You won't need a credit card, as you'll be able to buy marketplace cards in stores for points. You can use a credit card if you prefer, though, and buy points via the Dashboard. The Marketplace allows you to download free demos as well as non-free gamer pictures and themes; Xbox Live Arcade titles will range from 800 to 1200 points in price. For an example of the content available, see this Eurogamer article.
How do I get a new avatar for my profile?
New gamer pictures are bought via the Xbox Live Marketplace. You can't make your own, just yet.
Can I appear offline?
Yes. Select 'Personal Settings' from the Xbox Guide, select 'Online Status' and then 'Appear Offline.'