I have an XBox LIVE Gold account, so would I recommend it to a friend?
Of course, it should be quantified that my recommendation is based on my own personal experience and different people will have different feelings to me, but this is my blog and not theirs so I will now attempt to justify this...
Firstly I am not particularly "big" on on-line play, whether I have to pay for it or not. I have a fairly decent PC, by no means cutting edge, but able to comfortably handle something like Unreal Tournament III. Looking at my shelf of PC games I have around 10 popular on-line games that are free to play on-line but I have only ever played off-line. Why? Well, for starters I don't think I am skillfull enough to compete with some of the players out there and my idea of fun is not to a game of, say, Quake Wars Enemy Territory where I am constantly killed and re-spawn only to be killed again. I have better ways to spend my time, so games such as this I play in any available single-player mode and/or botmatch modes where I can tailor the difficulty to suit myself.
Of course, the reverse can be true and my opponents aren't as good as me and throw their toys out of their pram when they lose. On the Wii I have Mario Strikers Charged Football which has an on-line play mode that I have used exactly once on the first day I got the game. You play a series of 3 matches. My opponent won the first game but I won the second and the third was a tense affair that I won in sudden death extra-time. As soon as my goal went in my opponent disconnected from the match which meant I wasn't credited with the win. Ho hum, sore loser.
So if I'm not really interested in on-line play, why did I get the Gold account in the first place? The answer is FIFA 08. You see, EA made the roster updates only available to those players with Gold accounts, which I think is a pretty poor thing to do. With me switching to the Wii version for FIFA 09 I expect that I won't need to have any special account and/or have to pay for the roster updates on that version, so I am happy to let my Gold membership lapse to a silver account when it comes up for renewal.
The only other benefit is getting access to game demos a week early with a Gold membership, but I'm sure I can wait a week, can't I?