Microsoft announced some pretty substantial changes to the Xbox Live service today during their E3 press conference.
First up Xbox Live Gold subscribers will be able to download two free games as part of their subscriptions per month, unlike Sony's PlayStation Plus subscription, they don't expire when your subscription runs out, you keep them. Two announced games are Assassin's Creed 2 and Halo 3, Fable 3 also seems to be free at the moment, and this could be related to the same deal, or went live early. Officially it starts from July. So be ready to get some free cheevos, and we suspect will run until at least the launch of Xbox One. More details to be confirmed.
The Xbox Live Gold Family Pack was discontinued a few months ago, speculation proved to be correct and a household can now share many benefits from a single Gold account, at least on Xbox One, including multiplayer gaming. While still letting the kids or the other half have their own separate accounts, keeping their own friends lists and achievements. Making Live gaming much cheaper for multiple person households.
They're also converting Microsoft Points into real currency, and introducing Microsoft vouchers that can be used across Xbox, Windows and Windows Phone. The friends list is also being expanded no longer limited to 100 friends. Also announced was Twitch support, not only will games support recording, you'll also be able to live stream over Twitch.