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Online Gaming Services for Gaming Consoles on a Windows 7 Home Network

2 of 6 in Series: The Essentials of Home Network Gaming

Once you’ve connected your gaming console to your Windows 7 home network, you can sign up for an online gaming service. Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo all offer online gaming services that enable head-to-head Internet game play, game downloads, chat, shopping, and Web browsing.

There are practically hundreds of PlayStation, Xbox, and Wii console games built for online playing, but not all games are online capable. Be sure to check the online capabilities of your individual games before attempting to play one online! If a game supports online play, it’s clearly marked on the box or in online reviews and descriptions.

Sony PlayStation Network

The PlayStation Network is a free service for Sony PS3 and PSP (PlayStation Portable) gamers that provides exclusive content including games, movies, videos, TV programming, and more.

On the PlayStation Network, you can do the following:

  • Shop online and download new games that are stored directly on your PS3’s hard drive, check out demos of new games, and view high-definition trailers of new games and movies.

  • Participate in free online head-to-head gaming competitions.

  • Establish an online identity, build an avatar, participate in message boards, and do live text and voice chats.

  • Surf the Internet. (Technically, surfing the Internet isn’t part of the PlayStation Network — but don’t let that stop you!)

Although the PlayStation Network is free, some games may require an additional subscription fee to play online.

Microsoft Xbox Live

Xbox Live lets you use your Xbox 360 to connect with friends online, download and play games, and quickly access games, music, movies, and more!

Xbox Live is no longer available for the original Microsoft Xbox.

Xbox Live comes in the following versions:

  • The basic service, Xbox Live Free (formerly known as Xbox Live Silver) lets you voice chat, preview games, watch television and movies (rental fees apply) in high definition, download games and add-ons, and build a Gamertag and Avatar.

  • Xbox Live Gold adds party and video chat, multiplayer gaming, streaming movies and television (requires Netflix and Sky Player subscriptions, respectively), and Facebook, Twitter, ESPN, and more. An Xbox Live Gold account costs about $10 monthly or $60 annually.

  • Finally, Microsoft has added the Xbox Live Gold Family Pack which allows you to manage your family memberships and settings, view family usage reports, and earn Microsoft Point Allowances and discounts for your family. An Xbox Live Gold Family Pack membership costs $100 annually and gives you up to four Xbox Live Gold accounts.

Nintendo Wii

Nintendo’s online services include numerous channels, including the Wii Channel, Nintendo Channel, Mii Channel, Internet Channel, Photo Channel, Wii Shop Channel, and others.

Similar to the online offerings from Sony and Microsoft, Nintendo provides lots of great online content and capabilities for the Wii. You can preview and download new games, shop online, browse the Internet, and much more.

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