A free weekend of Xbox Live Gold

Microsoft will give away 72 free hours of access to its premium live service from Friday through Sunday.

Microsoft will offer free access to its Xbox Live Gold service from March 31 through April 2, the company said Thursday.

The company already offers full-time free access to a lower, silver level of its live service. Users there can create player profiles, maintain lists of friends, access the Xbox Live marketplace, play multiplayer online games, and send and receive voice and text messages.

Gold-level users, who usually pay $49.99 a year, get all those features, plus enhanced gamer feedback, better friends list management, access to more sophisticated online game play and more.

As part of the Free Xbox Live Gold Weekend, which is being sponsored by Verizon to promote that company's high-speed broadband connections, will host a series of special events, including the ability to play in certain games against celebrities, download special high-definition performances from musicians and more.

Consumers will also be able to play against Ubisoft's .

The free Xbox Live Gold offer is only available to Xbox 360 owners, though owners of both the original Xbox and the Xbox 360 can use Xbox Live.

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