Friday ended with a bit of a shocker, as Microsoft announced that it would soon be jacking the price of Xbox Live Gold up considerably (A bit of a sting after the local price was reduced in 2019). Many pundits presumed that this was an effort to drive more people towards adopting an Xbox Game Pass subscription, but whatever the true reasoning behind the move, folks weren’t exactly impressed.
The original plan would have resulted in Xbox Live Gold essentially doubling in price from its usual $60 fee for a year-long sub up to $120. Considering that the subscription service is needed to play free-to-play games (something which Sony avoids on PlayStation with its PS Plus service), and Xbox users were understandably ticked off.
A few hours after the announcement and a digital brouhaha, Microsoft reveresed course and announced that not only would there be no Xbox Live Gold price increases for the forseeable future, but that free-to-play games would no require the Gold tier subscription to be played. “We messed up today and you were right to let us know,” Microsoft said in a statement.
Connecting and playing with friends is a vital part of gaming and we failed to meet the expectations of players who count on it every day. As a result, we have decided not to change Xbox Live Gold pricing. We’re turning this moment into an opportunity to bring Xbox Live more in line with how we see the player at the center of their experience. For free-to-play games, you will no longer need an Xbox Live Gold membership to play those games on Xbox. We are working hard to deliver this change as soon as possible in the coming months.
It’s not clear when free-to-play games such as Destiny 2, Fortnite and Call of Duty Warzone will be exempt from needing the subscription to be accessible, but it is coming. According to industry analyst Daniel Ahmad, this shift was always the plan for Microsoft and had been brewing for months, with the fan backlash to the price increase of Xbox Live Gold being the driving factor behind announcing it.
Whatever your taste is right now, the end result is that nothing else is changing. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate will still offer its usual selection of goodies and Xbox Live Gold within its subscription price, but if that’s too pricy a service for you, you can settle for just plain ol’ Gold instead, which also drops a handful of Games With Gold freebies at the beginning of each month.
Last Updated: January 25, 2021