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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

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