XBox Live ?'s
My old 360 was ready to kick the bucket and I upgraded to the new 250GB unit. Since it has the wifi built in I logged onto XBox live for the first time.
I mostly play sports games (NHL, FIFA, Madden) either vs computer or a real live person sitting in the same room. I am not sure if I will use the XBox live enough to warrant getting a "Gold Membership" subscription. Other than playing head to head online, what else does the online gaming experience have to offer? Also, what are the Microsoft points used for?
I think you need XBL for getting roster updates for your sports games. Microsoft points are just a way for them to get more money with bonus game items.
The Gold subscription allows you to play games online and stream video. (Netflix, Hulu Plus, etc. assuming you also have accounts with the individual service)
I'm running on a free 3 month gold account right now and will probably renew only to stream video. I rent from Vudu quite a bit and occasionally watch Netflix through my Xbox. I don't play online much because I just don't need a 12 year old calling me names which seems to be the norm.
Microsoft points are used to buy game content, some downloadable games, rent videos through Zune, etc. The ratio is 4 MS points per $0.05.
Gold is probably a must, even if you don't plan to play online against other gamers. Like Dexter mentioned, you'll likely need it for roster updates and whatnot.
Whatever you do though, don't pay full price ($60 a year) to Microsoft. Just look for a Xbox Live 12 month subscription card on Amazon or Ebay. I usually buy one there for about $30-35 bucks.
Microsoft points, you don't really need it at all. It's just for downloadable content (DLC as people call it) for "bonus/additional" things added to your game. In truth, it's an easy way for a company to make extra money off of you for something that should have already been in the $60 dollar game they charged you for. But you won't really miss anything if you don't buy it, so don't worry about that.