Update: Xbox LIVE is officially available in South Africa. You can sign-up directly through your dashboard, or via Xbox.com. However, some people prefer to have a UK/US account to gain access to more content, so the guide below is still available for those looking to do so.
Original Story: First off, Xbox LIVE is not officially supported in South Africa. It's been on Microsoft's "agenda" since the Xbox 360 launched locally, but so far nothing has come of it. The last time we spoke to Microsoft SA regarding the matter, we were told that "there are a number of things that need to be in place before it can happen."
This doesn't mean we can't access Xbox LIVE from South Africa, but it does require a little bit of know how on what to do, and what not to do to achieve it. This guide was created to guide you through the process of joining and using the majority of Xbox LIVE's services from SA. I say the majority because there will be times that certain content won't be available for download. This normally happens when content receives a mature rating and Microsoft block any region which hasn't been certified to download that content. They do this by restricting the download to IP addresses within the allowed countries. So, in turn, it will be "region blocked" for South Africans. There are ways around it though, but it will require the use of a VPN, and that's for another discussion, another time. Other blocked services include Zune, Netflix and other video and music related services, but these are impractical considering the bandwidth prices in SA in any case, and are more add-ons that aren't used by the average user. It's all about the gaming, remember.
Ok, so first things first...
1. Internet access and setting up your Xbox 360
You'll obviously need internet access to connect to Xbox LIVE through your Xbox 360. I'd recommend using no less than a 384 kbps speed ADSL line, or equivalent wireless connection. It is possible to play over 3G, though it's not recommended as you're more susceptible to lag.
Xbox.com has a great guide that covers the different setups depending on your connection, so I recommend you head on over to the following page if you're unsure how to initially setup your Xbox 360: Connect your Xbox 360 to Xbox LIVE: NXE Xbox 360 | Xbox Support.
Before moving onto the next step, make sure that you can successfully retrieve the Xbox LIVE status, as seen below:
The easiest way to make sure your account is created under the region you want (remember, SA is not recognised as an official region) is to first create a Windows LIVE account and then link it to Xbox LIVE. To create an account, head on over to: https://signup.live.com/.
Fill in your details, but when it comes to the Country/Region, you'll need to select the region you'd like to fall under on Xbox LIVE. The most popular choices for South Africans are the UK and US. You could choose any country that falls under the official Xbox LIVE countries, but it may be difficult to purchase MS Points for less popular regions (see 5. Where can I purchase prepaid Xbox LIVE codes? for more details on MS Points). So, decide if you want to be a pom or a yank, and select the corresponding Country/Region. You'll also need to insert a valid postal code. It can be anything though, a London game store for example, just as long as it's a valid postal code.
3. Signing up for Xbox LIVE on your Xbox 360
Now that you have a Windows LIVE account, signing up for Xbox LIVE is a breeze. If you haven't yet, create a profile on your Xbox 360, and sign in on your preferred profile. Then follow these simple steps:
- Step 1
Go to My Xbox, and then select your Avatar.
- Step 2
Select Join Xbox LIVE. It will ask you to Exit Session. Select Yes.
- Step 3
After checking your connection and downloading updates, you will be presented with the instructions to activate your Xbox LIVE account. Select Sign Me Up.
- Step 4
It will ask you for an email address. Use the same email address that's associated with your Windows LIVE account that you created earlier (see Creating a Windows LIVE account).
- Step 5
Recognising your Windows LIVE account from your email address, you'll need to verify the account using your Windows LIVE password.
- Step 6
Thanks to your Windows LIVE account, your information is already populated with the correct region. You may need to set your date of birth to continue.
- Step 7
- Step 8
Snazzy... click Contine.
- Step 9
Here's an important bit. Make sure you select I don't want a Gold membership. This will a) Give you 1 free month as a Gold member, and b) Put you onto prepaid. Using a credit card on Xbox LIVE IS BAD.
- Step 10
Hey, look! Free 1 month Xbox LIVE Gold membership. Click Continue.
- Step 11
Again, you don't want to add your credit card onto Xbox LIVE. Select No, add it later.
- Step 12
Verify your contact details, and click Continue.
- Step 13
Do you like emails? Then check the inputs. Once done, click Continue.
- Step 14
You can always change this later. It's just a way for other Xbox LIVE members to recognise what type of gamer you are by glancing at your Gamer Zone.
- Step 15
Double check your data, then click Continue.
- Step 16
This will confirm that your Gamertag is available. You may need to choose another if it's already in use on Xbox LIVE.
- Step 17
Your Xbox LIVE account is being created! You're nearly there.
- Step 18
You can use a picture of your Avatar as your Gamer picture if you haven't yet set it up. Either option is fine and can be changed later through your Profile.
- Step 19
Congratulations! You're now a member of Xbox LIVE.
If you've followed the steps above, you should now be a member of Xbox LIVE!
4. So, why mustn't I use my credit card on Xbox LIVE?
I've successfully evaded this question, and it's about time I explain why credit cards shouldn't be used on accounts setup in South Africa. It comes down to the region you select to get onto Xbox LIVE, specifically the country and postal code. Basically, your Xbox LIVE details won't match your credit card details, and in turn, Microsoft will eventually suspend your account. The only way to re-activate your account again is to add another credit card, which just results in the same problem. So, how do we get around it? The answer: Prepaid codes...
Before purchasing Xbox LIVE codes, it should be noted that MS Points (the currency to purchase content on Xbox LIVE) is region specific. This means that if you signed up for a US Xbox LIVE account, then you must buy US MS Points. The same goes for the UK and any other Xbox LIVE region. This doesn't apply to Xbox LIVE memberships though, and you can purchase any Gold membership knowing that it will work worldwide.
Below is a list of popular sites to purchase Xbox LIVE codes from:
- South African sites:
- International sites:
We may have to jump through a few hoops to get onto Xbox LIVE from South Africa, but there's no denying that the service is what makes the Xbox 360 one of the best gaming platforms out there. In addition to the massive catalogue of Arcade games and DLC expansions to download, there's a thriving like-minded South African gaming community to join, making for a great online gaming experience.
That's about it. So, see you online, and if you have any questions or comments, post it below or ask it on our forum.
P.S. Now that you're on Xbox LIVE, why not grab some of the free content available to Gold members. Check out our ever growing What's FREE on Xbox Live Marketplace section.