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Microsoft could be preparing to drop the paywall on Xbox Live

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You get a new video game console, you grab some games and there you go: Price of admission, done and dusted…right? Not exactly! For almost two decades now, subscription services have been a part of the gaming experience if you were looking to go online with your hobby. While the SEGA Dreamcast ventured into online waters early on in the life of that underrated machine, it was Microsoft who pioneered the way forward for internet console gaming and supporting the habit with a few bucks every month.

Xbox Live grew over the years, eventually saw competition from Sony with PlayStation Plus and even Nintendo got in on the act with their own service that has become a necessary expense on the Switch console for their first-party games that feature an online element. For many many years, these subscriptions have been an accepted part of the status quo in console gaming. What if Microsoft were to change its tune though?

As the build-up to the Xbox Series X begins increasing this week with July 23’s first-party games showcase, changes are subtly being introduced to the ecosystem of the Xbox brand. Currently, 12 month subscriptions for Xbox Live have been removed from Microsoft’s online store. “At this time, Xbox has decided to remove the 12 months Xbox Live Gold SKU from the Microsoft online Store. Customers can still sign up for a one month or three month Xbox Live Gold subscription online through the Microsoft Store,” a representative said to True Achievements.

So what’s the deal? Over on ResetEra, scooper Klobrille (who has had a solid track record so far and broke news on Microsoft’s Obsidian acquisition), reckons that Microsoft is preparing to drop the Xbox Live Paywall.

I wouldn’t be surprised at all. Everything Microsoft has done over the last couple of years, has been with an eye towards creating the ultimate gaming ecosystem. Backwards compatibility on all Xbox generations, pushing for exclusives in the Xbox Game Pass library and adding Project Xcloud to that membership for users who have opted into a monthly subscription of its top tier offering.

Microsoft’s been subtly pushing for an all-in-one program, and if the barrier to subscription for online play is being dropped, then Microsoft could be looking at some serious market gains in the latest console generation. Xbox big cheese Aaron Greenberg is already teasing some big reveals for Thursday:

Kicking off or ending the show with an announcement regarding a massive overhaul of Xbox Live? That could be a serious showstopper.

Last Updated: July 20, 2020

29 Comments

  1. Ok. So, I was busy playing through the first Act of Ghost oh Tsushima, Not done by a long shot. Simply traversing this imagined version of Japan in an era where the Samurai reigned supreme. Just taking in the jaw dropping vistas and helping those where I could. I was keen to try out my newly unlocked Heavenly Strike. I was thinking to myself, this has to be the game of the generation.

    Meanwhile, the MS side of things have done so badly, they are already cancelled the X box one x and are already making promises about features that seem implausible, 200 frames a second.No subscription. The same lame games we have seen come out of that side for years, Gears, Forza, Halo and all the Multi-platform titles.

    I think this is where you see the difference in approach. Sony releases games that are so damn good. And we get to play them. Meanwhile, the very expensive X box one x I paid good hard cash for is a complete dud.

    Reply

  2. Gareth Lagesse (eXCheez)

    July 20, 2020 at 07:43

    A monkey could do Aaron Greenberg’s job though. What does he even do besides continually give out false information?

    Reply

    • Llama In The Rift

      July 20, 2020 at 08:10

    • Pieter Kruger

      July 20, 2020 at 08:30

      His main job is to piss you off……seems like he’s due for another increase….!??

      Reply

      • MechMachine

        July 20, 2020 at 10:32

        Pieter, You can down-vote me all you want. I have to ask, have you even played any of the games on the PS4 ? It’s an honest question.

        Reply

        • Pieter Kruger

          July 20, 2020 at 10:40

          I’ve had some time with God Of War and it was excellent! Would love to play TLOU2 also, looks brilliant. The other exclusives looks nice but not really interested.

          Reply

          • MechMachine

            July 20, 2020 at 10:40

            Ok. Do yourself a favor, beg,borrow and steal if you have to.Ghost of Tsushima is very very good. Better than GOW. Better than TLOU 2. Better than Horizon Zero Dawn.

          • Pieter Kruger

            July 20, 2020 at 10:51

            Hopefully one of my friends will pick it up and I will give it a go. Watched some lengthy gameplay though, looks nice…..my game of the generation must be RDR2 though. And if you like Ghost you must like RDR2 as well, and there’s no better place to play it then on XB1X!

          • MechMachine

            July 20, 2020 at 10:55

            I got really bored playing RDR2. The thing about Ghost of Tsushima is it explores such a unique setting, it involves a compelling narrative that lends from a truly terrifying foe, The Mongolian.Empire and it delivers on all fronts. The story, the game-play, the visuals, the music and for me the atmosphere is incredible. It is so unique in this generation of open world experiences and the things you get to do are so balanced. Every thing has a place. Simply brilliant. The Sword play is just incredible.

          • MechMachine

            July 20, 2020 at 10:55

            I got really bored playing RDR2. The thing about Ghost of Tsushima is it explores such a unique setting, it involves a compelling narrative that lends from a truly terrifying foe, The Mongolian.Empire and it delivers on all fronts. The story, the game-play, the visuals, the music and for me the atmosphere is incredible. It is so unique in this generation of open world experiences and the things you get to do are so balanced. Every thing has a place. Simply brilliant. The Sword play is just incredible.

          • d0x360

            July 20, 2020 at 21:00

            Let me interject here… Ghosts is… Alright. The combat is fun but not much else is. It would have been a better game if they made it linear then opened up lots of routes when you attack a “base”

            There is also waaay too much boring u skippable dialog.

            Sony exclusive have this habit of being gorgeous to look at but they have the gameplay depth of a puddle.

            Thankfully ghost is one of the better exclusives but most of them… Pretty meh. Tlou2… Gameplay is a 5/10 and story is a 3/10. The only genuinely must have game is God of war BUT unlike last gow’s the new one has basically zero replay value

          • MechMachine

            July 21, 2020 at 09:32

            I have to respectfully disagree about your points on Ghost. It’s a fantastic game.

          • d0x360

            July 21, 2020 at 20:49

            *edit* I’ll leave this reply up but it was actually meant for a completely different disqus thread.

            *End edit*

            No worries there. Everyone is allowed their opinion and I won’t tell you you’re wrong.

            I Definitely think ghosts is underrated BUT I also think it’s my 2nd least favorite COD with blops3 being the worst. I hate fighting the robots and despite trying multiple times I’ve never been able to finish the campaign.
            I actually liked advanced warfare quite a bit… I do wish they opened the campaign up some and made the maps have multiple routes and my reasoning there is they give you gadgets like the climbing gloves and you use them like once…

            I’m not a big COD fan in general. Ghosts was actually the first COD I had bought since Activision fired West & Zampella and even before there were games I didn’t buy until much much later like world at war.

            I’m not a fan of the mp at all really so it all hangs on the campaign for me.

          • MechMachine

            July 22, 2020 at 10:38

            Wait, What. I meant Ghost of Tsushima.

          • d0x360

            July 22, 2020 at 20:02

            ROFL.. sorry, I reply to disqus threads through email and I had another going about call of duty.

            Back to the right game lol, don’t get me wrong Ghosts (not cod) is a fun game with a well built combat system but I really do think it would have worked better if it was more linear. Now I haven’t beaten it yet but I’ve probably played about 10-15 hours.

            I have 2 issues with the game and they are the un-skippable cutscenes… Cause honestly I dont care about the story, I find it intensely boring with actors that seems to have absolutely no emotions most of the time. I love story in games but this isn’t one of them.

            My other issue is the game is it’s at its absolute best when you have an area that’s like… A big encampment or small town and there are multiple routes to sneak around but those areas (so far) have been too few and I think if they didn’t have to worry about building an open world (that feels pretty empty) they could have focused on making better and larger areas to do missions in.

            Like… Set it up more like Assassin’s Creed 1 than Witcher 3. Then you could still kinda have that open world feel but you could have these perfectly crafted areas.

            It’s hard to explain because despite my complaints I still really enjoy the game I just wish it was more… Dense. Kinda like Sekiro. That game is super dense.

          • MechMachine

            July 23, 2020 at 13:35

            Fair points, All. What I am enjoying is how fresh and new this experience is. Plus running around in this landscape is a really nice way to spend a few hours every day. I have experienced open world fatigue, and this game has refreshed things a little. Just like God of War did.

          • d0x360

            July 23, 2020 at 17:07

            Honestly I think open world fatigue is my only issue. If it wasn’t for that I’d probably have the same opinion as you.

            I think what caused the fatigue for me was Red Dead 2. I absolutely loved it (single player) and I put like 200 hours into the x1x version and only made it to like chapter 4 in the story.

            Then I started again on PC and put about 70 hours into that and only made it (so far) to the start of chapter 4.

            Ill still play open world stuff that looks interesting but I think the game that will break me out of the open world funk I’m currently in is probably going to be cyberpunk.

            Lately I’ve actually been playing allot of Titanfall 2, both campaign and mp. That game is super linear but it has some of the best gameplay out there. It’s just so satisfying running along the walls then pulling some trick move to flank someone. I can’t get enough right now.

  3. Pieter Kruger

    July 20, 2020 at 08:49

    One can dream! This would be such a good move IF they decide to do it, but not sure if the suits will give the go ahead here too(there’s already talk that they’re planning to sell the XSX at a loss!) But again, this will only drive the competition to follow, so we all win!

    Reply

  4. Seeker

    July 20, 2020 at 09:28

    This will be a good move. All they need to do now is bring Xbox all access to SA.

    Reply

    • Rowan Swanepoel

      July 21, 2020 at 18:45

      Yeah man. All access would be awesome… Won’t need the wife’s permission to get a new console! Haha

      Reply

  5. MechMachine

    July 20, 2020 at 09:54

    Ok. So, I was busy playing through the first Act of Ghost oh Tsushima, Not done by a long shot. Simply traversing this imagined version of Japan in an era where the Samurai reigned supreme. Just taking in the jaw dropping vistas and helping those where I could. I was keen to try out my newly unlocked Heavenly Strike. I was thinking to myself, this has to be the game of the generation.

    Meanwhile, the MS side of things have done so badly, they have already cancelled the X box one x and are already making promises about features that seem implausible, 200 frames a second.No subscription. The same lame games we have seen come out of that side for years, Gears, Forza, Halo and all the Multi-platform titles.

    I think this is where you see the difference in approach. Sony releases games that are so damn good. And we get to play them. Meanwhile, the very expensive X box one x I paid good hard cash for is a complete dud.

    Reply

    • Gareth Lagesse (eXCheez)

      July 20, 2020 at 15:30

      I’m curious how you are aware of their full game reveal agenda. Also, the Xbox (not X box) One X will be replaced by the Series S. “Sony releases games that are so damn good. And we get to play them.” What does that even mean? Every single game released on the Xbox since late 2017 is optimised for the One X. And Moon, Turn 10 and Playground deliver incredible games too, so let’s not pretend that there aren’t great games on the Xbox that run and look amazing on the One X system.

      We get it: you are a zealously subjective Sony PlayStation supporter. Good for you.

      Reply

      • MechMachine

        July 20, 2020 at 15:53

        Huh ? This is the thing about Fanboys, instead of arguing the merits, you go after a few typos and think you’ve won the debate. Name one game on the OneX that can compare to any of these titles, and be fair. Bloodborne, GOW, TLOU2, GOT, Uncharted and many more.. My gripe with Microsoft is their constant promises and lack of delivery. Sony delivered a fairly descent showcase at their event and MS had a lackluster affair with 3rd party games and little to no game play. MS cancels the future development of the OneX and Sony are still releasing Mega Block Busters a few months before the next gen.

        Sony is forward thinking with games that are made for the Next gen and Phil Spencer attacks that strategy as anti consumer ? Where are his games ? Yes, I am overzealous because I see incredible games being released by Sony’s first party studios and all I see from MS is the same tired old hyperbolic marketing gibberish. Where are the games ? Where ?

        Reply

    • The D

      July 20, 2020 at 18:33

      It’s a good point, and one that I think highlights two very different schools of thought with the big two. With Sony, you’ve got a brand that is supremely confident in what they offer and rightly so. Brilliant machines, games that are absolutely spectacular to play on them.

      With Microsoft, I’ve got a feeling that we’re going to see the seeds that they’ve been laying for the last three years, bear fruit. After all, video game development takes a while. While the Xbox One X is being discontinued, I don’t think it’s something that’s being done at the spur of the moment. With the rumours pointing towards a Lockheart reveal in August, the approach is once again pure Microsoft: Offer a console that hits either the budget or too much cash sweet spot.

      If the rumours are true, then Lockheart is a decent hybrid between Xbox One X and Xbox Series X: Still a decent amount of grunt, with an SSD that adds a lot of speed to the equation. I’m still excited for Thursday though. There’s going to be at least an hour of reveals, with a lot of variety on offer as well.

      Even if you don’t like games like Forza or Halo, it’s hard to argue their quality. And the last two years have been fantastic for MS on that front as well! Gears Tactics, Ori & the Will of the Wisps and the improved State of Decay 2 have been terrific stuff!

      I’m pretty amped for Thursday, when we’ll see the real big guns pulled out and MS will go for broke. If I’m disappointed, so be it. But for now? My hype is real.

      Reply

      • MechMachine

        July 21, 2020 at 09:32

        I`m also fairly amped to see what they are up too. At the end of the day, if they do well, we end up as winners.

        Reply

      • MechMachine

        July 21, 2020 at 09:32

        I`m also fairly amped to see what they are up too. At the end of the day, if they do well, we end up as winners.

        Reply

  6. Joshua Walls

    July 20, 2020 at 20:23

    If they do that, third parties like EA will charge for their own online experience

    Reply

  7. Joshua Walls

    July 20, 2020 at 20:23

    If they do that, third parties like EA will charge for their own online experience

    Reply

  8. Son of Banana Jim

    July 23, 2020 at 22:50

    Keep game pass, drop the paywall to xbox live. That might get me to consider a whatever the new one is called Xbox X S Sphere Beer Tear little weird Box thing….

    Reply

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