A global total of 56 percent of Xbox Live users have purchased a Gold membership of the online service -- 60 percent in the U.S., according to Microsoft documents dating from before the launch of the New Xbox Experience last year.
Membership levels have remained relatively steady for over a year, according to the documents, first discovered
by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. However, the most recent worldwide figure of 56 percent for February 2008 was down from 60 percent at the same time the previous year.
The figure for February 2008 was slightly higher for the U.S. alone, at 60 percent. Although Microsoft confirmed the authenticity of the document, it has always refused to reveal detailed statistics on a regular basis.
Its most recent statement indicated that there are 17 million active Xbox Live users
worldwide, although this figure includes both Gold and non-paying Silver members. Microsoft has also revealed that Xbox Live revenues on the Xbox 360 have exceeded $1 billion, although this figure includes paid-for downloadable content.
Silver membership allows users to download content from Xbox Live but not to play games, for which Gold membership is required. In The U.S., an annual Gold subscription costs $49.99, although users can also pay in three-month or monthly installments.
The New Xbox Experience dashboard update launched in November 2008 and is not mentioned in the document. However, Microsoft has previously indicated that the new interface resulted in a tripling of Xbox Live Arcade downloads
and other activity.