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Microsoft is breaking up the family, putting an end to Xbox Live Gold Family Packs

If you are currently enjoying the Xbox Live Gold Family Pack your days are numbered. Starting August 27, 2013 Microsoft will begin converting each activated account in the Family Pack to individual Xbox Live Gold memberships.

If you are planning on getting an Xbox One, this shouldn't be an issue with the new Home Gold feature that allows for the sharing of membership benefits. However, if you're sticking with the Xbox 360, it kinda sucks.

You see the Family Pack ran $99.99 annually and allowed for up to four accounts to tap into the Xbox Live Gold benefits. Where individual memberships run about $50 annually, the Family Pack could save a family up to $100 a year.

In addition you had activity monitoring reports with the Family Pack so you could keep tabs on the younger family members and if they needed Microsoft Points, you could transfer points to them from the primary account as needed.  As a severance package, Microsoft will credit each converted Xbox Live Gold membership with three months credit to the remaining time on the membership's term (maximum 36 months).

The move may force some to make the jump to the Xbox One and while that may save on the cost of the Xbox Live Gold memberships, the cost of buying multiple consoles will be a sticking point.  One can only hope that eventually Microsoft will offer bulk discount on Xbox Live Gold memberships for families not planning on making the move to the Xbox One.

Otherwise, you may see a sudden drop in Xbox Live Gold memberships simply because families can't afford the extra $50-100.  You can read all the FAQ's on this conversion here at Xbox's support page.

George is the Reviews Editor at Windows Central, concentrating on Windows 10 PC and Mobile apps. He's been a supporter of the platform since the days of Windows CE and uses his current Windows 10 Mobile phone daily to keep up with life and enjoy a game during down time.

  • I get they want to have an account for everyone, but they should discount for familly members. 25$ each ...
  • Lol again, Microsoft giving less for more. PS4 BEYOND! Lol
  • Just curious how does this work on the PSN➕❓
  • Most things on PSN are free. You only pay for PS+if you want cloud saves, auto updates and Instant Game Collection. Media streaming and online gaming are free.
  • Online gaming requires PS+ on PS4.
  • You're right. If they do this they need to drop the gold requirement for media content. I have a family account now so all my Xbox's can access media content at the same time.
  • Yeah, there has to be some break. 240.00 for the same 4 accounts is quite ridiculous. Not happy about this at all.
  • I got my year membership for $30 dollars flat, on eBay through TigerDirect, and if I remember correctly they've dropped to as low as $28. The smart shopper can easily get 4 for $120 by being patient and watching for deals, which isn't much more than the $99 MS charged initially for families.
  • I've seen 12 month gold as low as $20 on group on before.
  • That's great and all, but consumers shouldn't have to jump through all these hoops just get get a decent price for Xbox Live, especially when you consider it's required for simple tasks such as Netflix and internet browsing. I personally am an avid Microsoft supporter, but I've never used any Xbox or PlayStation. However, by the sound of things, this whole Xbox Live thing is starting to get ridiculous. I was interested in the Xbox One, but if Gold is required for even basic functionality, then what's the point?
    If Microsoft is going to act like a carrier, charging just to use your device, they should at least give a subsidy.
  • There have been rumors about a subsidy for the Xbox One with a requirement to signup for 2 years of Xbox Live Gold just like a cell phone companies do. Gamescom is coming up later this month and supposedly there will be some new announcements by Microsoft.
  • Agreed and how about an Xbox that is worth the money and not a piece of junk like the last 3 have been, lve often thought as much as l pay for the usage with all the games, extras and memberships the box should be free!
  • Hey, quit telling our secrets. Seriously though, I hear the moaning and groaning about XBox Live being soooo expensive, yet I've never spent more than $40 for the annual subscription.
  • I guess everyone missed the part that as long as one account on the Xbox One console has gold everyone else on the console can access XBL Gold and all associated features at no added cost? This actually is cheaper than paying for a family account.
  • I guess you missed the part that this doesn't apply to the 360, so if you want the same Gold benefits for four people there you're paying more?
  • While that is true, my Xbox family uses 3 different Consoles in 2 citys. That would still require 3 gold accounts. So it's PS3 for me in 5 months. No online charge, no charge to surf and watch 4OD and iPlayer that are free on any laptop.
  • This is straight bull! Microsoft...sticking it to the little guy.
  • I say we hold signs out front of their offices
  • WE ARE THE 99%!
  • And pitchforks . . . and firebrands, even.
  • Just don't buy anything from microsoft
  • And yet here you are on WPC!
  • Yes, I'm stupid. Bought HTC Titan, lumia 920, Surface RT, xbox 360, upgraded all my PCs to windows 8.
    Sold HTC titan long time ago, sold 920  two months ago, selling my xbox, selling my surface RT. Bought Chromecast, Using an iphone 5. It that makes you happy.
  • Three questions for you. Why would trade an L920 for an iPhone 5? What is wrong with W8? Why are you here on WPC if you dislike MS so much?
  • This is a free country. When I going to a particular website, I do not have to have a reason. When a company charges a fee for using a web browser, watching nbc news on a device the company has good market share, it is wrong. I will speak out against that company. I do not hate wp8. I still believe Nokia is doing best it can to deliver quality product like lumia 1020. Why did I trade Lumia 920 for an iphone 5, you are biased if you don't know why. First of all, Lumia 920 is bulky. Second, the two apps I used most often are a violin tuner and google voice. Tell me is there anything good for a tuner in wp market? 
  • No need to get your knickers in a twist there Peter. I was asking you legitimate questions. If the 920 was too bulky, the 927 & 925 certainly aren't. Actually, most people are pretty unimpressed with iPhone 5, even iPhone fans, and is why I was asking what you like better over WP8 (other than apps of course) and over Nokia. I happen to agree with you about MS charging for free content. I have a 360 S which works great as an extender and for my limited gaming so wondering why you're hating on that too.
  • You shouldn't have to explane yourself... At least you're standing up and saying charging a fee to watch netflix and videos or surf the internet is rediculous, when we already pay to watch netflix, we pay for our internet conecrtion so why the hell should we have to pay to use our own internet conection? If I go over my data being there is a data gap now I have to pay for it not microsoft, this should be ilegal. Something needs to be done.
  • Quite literally sticking it to the little guy. My wife and I had gold memberships, and we extended it to the kids since it was basically free. Sorry kids, not paying an extra $100 a year just so you can watch Netflix for Kids. Just as well, the unbelievably bad implementation of parental controls on the 360 made it eye-gougingly painful for the adults to use anyway. Microsoft is probably doing me a favor, if I look at it from the right angle.
  • The Xbox 360 should share the Xbox one's family share feature. It's not like companies are going to continue making new games in the long run anyways. The Xbox one is as any console, an eventual forced upgrade to keep up with the new games and features that people actually use.
  • I completely agree with you. This is once again a problem with too much Microsoft. You get more than one of any of their tech, you start getting screwed. Its like they're not used to success and can't fathom someone having more than one (if any ay all). This is especially annoying as they themselves touted the 360 being the solution if you didn't like the one. I feel like they are trying to help Sony or something. First a blueray drive and now pushing people to their console.
  • Dumb. BTW, if a family can't afford the extra cost of purchasing individual Gold memberships, how can they afford $400 on a new system PLUS having to buy all new games?
  • ^This
  • Maybe they save up for the $500 system at the holiday, as console releases are 8 years apart this time around. Yes, the family might spend $500 now, but that's for keeps. Over the life span of the console, the added Gold costs would be about $800.
  • They breaking but only the law just for existing on the market,still.Rubbish and that what you called gdr2,what a s....
  • Lol, you make a lot of sense :)
  • I think it's trying to communicate!
  • What's with the mom? lolz
  • lol!
  • Must be one of those "confused" gender people
  • I think this is George's account guy be nice.
  • Mom doesn't do Xbox... myself, my son and my daughter do... son is just a goofball
  • Hahahaha ;-)
  • Just get a wack in the a...
  • My kids will not be happy, we used this and loved it...
  • Ugh. Misled decision. Sure, individual accounts are nicer financially but you have to consider this from a different perspective. This will lead to a cancellation of the other two accounts with only the primary one being retained in most cases. People don't like the "individual customization" that Microsoft is banking on if it is going to cost them an extra $100. Stupid move. Instead, they should go in the opposite direction and come up with a Xbox music family pass. I can't recall how many times I've cursed them for not having a system like that in place. Just charge me a higher fee for including two other family members that'll use it occasionally instead of them spending an extra $10. Not to mention how good a selling point it'll be too.
  • There will be GDR5 for xbox users.great news.
  • Uh, what are you on about? Smoking a bit too much crack today?
  • Smoke that shit won't help,mate.
    Microsoft that's amazing. Feel great,man.
  • Any more leaks guys?
  • I know good plumber if you need it.
  • I do need one!!!
  • Who, Mario? xD
  • That's BS because not every family shares an Xbox. I have 3 in my house & the 4th spot is taken by one of my cousins I will not be paying Microsoft $180+ BAD MOVE MICROSOFT. I was told last month I'd be grandfathered in just like with Zune Music Pass (XboxMusic) $14.99 plus 10credits
  • Me too. Living room xbox, and 2 in teenagers rooms. One family account. Not pleased with this.
  • Good ol' Microsoft, always finding new ways to needlessly piss people off.  That's some innovation right there.
  • I figured out their pattern. Piss everyone off, partially redeem, repeat.
  • That's bull$#!%
  • I just got an email saying as of Aug 27th all of my family members will be moved to regular live accounts... Where's the petition :D
  • My kids live with ex wife. I pay for their membership that way.
  • Old news. Knew that for months.
  • Me too, they said Family Gold will disappear this year. And the MS Points too.
  • Everyday that passes I feel as if Microsoft is making me want to switch to a ps4.
  • will PS4 have family PSN? Xbox One Will do
  • And what's PS4s plan for digital sharing now that PS+ is a paid service? Has Sony announced anything on this?
  • Sony said sharing is free.
  • Free sharing between ps+ and non-ps+ subscribers?
  • Not sure what you mean.
  • Home gold allows xbl gold features to extend to silver member's console if the gold member is logged on.
    Your comment implied a superior premium share experience on ps4. As I haven't followed the ps+ new paid subscription plans, I'm askiing will they allow ps+ features on non-ps+ consoles similar to xb1?
  • MS had better drop this BS and fast! If you screw your 360 Customers that isn't going to make them more interested in the One. It'll make them more interested in the Playstation 4. Myself included.
    MS - yank the cord on this and axe whoever came up with it like the Always on internet connection!
  • Quick, to the petition-mobile!
  • It seems that the writer of this article doesn't know what he's talking about. The only thing he is right is that the family pack is going away. Families will now only need to have the main account with live gold, and the remaining accounts that are on the console will feed off of that account. The most a household will now pay is $60 (if they are stupid enough to pay retail.) This is going to cost much less for the people who currently use the account how Microsoft intended it. For those people that had friends going in together in order to get the discount, but not using the same console, your free ride is over. This is great news, and even better that it will apply to the 360 as well.
  • This is fine if you have one Xbox One, but not good if you have multiple consoles in one home especially 360s
  • From what I've read, you will be able to use the primary live account on multiple consoles...although there are missing details on how that will work. Either way, still can't believe WPCentral is spreading this crap. Look at the comments and see how people are reacting to this incorrect article.
  • Wilbur... with the new Home Gold plan you will be able to share the features of your Xbox Live Gold account with others. What you are missing is that the Home Gold plan is exclusive to the Xbox One. It is not available for the Xbox 360. And even then, I'm not sure if the Home Gold plan will extend to multiple consoles. We know from the home console it will share with multiple accounts but if the Gold member can't sign into multiple consoles at the same time you will need multiple Gold memberships as well. Regardless, there will be no way to share Xbox Live Gold features on the Xbox 360 now that the Family Pack is done away with. No crap being spread. But thanks for checking in.
  • Exactly. I will have an Xbox One plus the three Xbox 360s I have today. Anyone that had Family Gold + 360s just got the big middle finger. If you're not going to keep the 360s, great. But if you plan to like I do you either need Gold accounts for your family members or you need to give them your password just to watch Netflix. Not cool.
  • That's how it will work on the One, but they never said they'd make it work that way on the 360. Unless the One surprise-ships early on Aug 27th, a lot of people stand to get screwed. (Unless the 360 gets an update to work as you describe above).
  • Well, there is the Fall Update, which some of us are beta testing. Can't say what it will change for sure, but I wouldn't be surprised if they are making changes to the entirety of Gold, not just how it works on the X1.
  • It's still stupid no matter how ya look at it. I have 3 360's so I am soooo screwed. My son is pissed. Ya ever seen 14 year old rant about his/her Xbox? Its scary. Microsoft!
  • And than we will have xbox 720
  • MS works so hard to make loyal customers not want their products. I will miss the family pass and so will my kids. They will have to pay their own way now. I wouldn't mind if they would do some bundling. $100 a year for music pass including a Gold pass. $175 a year for Office 365 including Gold and Music Passes.
  • Xbox One is coming and it lets silver accounts to use gold features...if you dont like it sell your 360... even though you wont get much value back. but Im glad they are doing it for xbox one users. finally everyone around dont need to be gold member to get features from it.
  • And $200 for pass of passes
  • Silver with gold,oh man,quality
  • Wow this is a bummer. I have four 360s and I sure can't afford four One's. I've had the family plan since it debuted. Maybe they'll bring the family share to the 360. One can only hope.
  • I love this site a lot, but sometimes I wonder if you're just trying to generate hits. I got an email about this today also, but there's something you forgot to add; As a bonus, we will give each converted individual Xbox Live Gold membership from your Gold Family Pack an extra 3 months of Gold (in addition to the time remaining on your membership term).** Yeah, that's an important detail to leave out. In addition to that, what most people don't know is that only the primary account can participate in the games with gold promotion currently. I have two other people on my family gold account that can't enjoy the free games right now, but after Aug. 27th, they can. For those not planning to get a Xbox one soon, maybe this change stings a little, but it's not all bad news. By the way, if you shop around, a gold account can be had for as cheap as $29.99.
  • This is wrong.. all 4 accounts on my family plan have been able to download the free games.
  • Um, no it's not. I spent a good 45 minutes with customer support the other day. Their official stance is that each account in addition to the primary is merely a secondary account to which all the benefits of having a gold account are extended to with the explicit exception of certain discounted promotions, games with gold being one of them. Let me ask you this, are all of your family gold accounts on the same console?
  • hmmm.. guess we've just been lucky then. i just checked to make sure the "purchase" has stuck with each account and it did... and we play on multiple consoles so i know it's not just shared.
  • Must be luck. My brother and I live on opposite sides of Dallas. I can download the free games, he can't. When he called xbox live support to find out why he couldn't, they told him that his account wasn't officailly recognized as a genuine gold account. They told him that the secondary accounts on the family gold account aren't even recognized by the network as true gold accounts and that the benenfits of the primary are merely being extended to the secondary accounts. It sux, but after the 27th it won't matter anymore.
  • Yea I can't either because it requires you to enter a credit card since it is games on demand and not arcade titles. Also got an email talking about points going away soon and that they switch to local currency but when the switch happens you need to use it up by sometime in 2015. That's total BS as points were always supposed to be forever unless it was from the Xbox rewards. Plus what about local areas where gift cards never expire. I live in NH and gift cards can never expire here.
  • Everyone on my family plan has been able to get the free games, even those of us that use the same console. You just have to "buy" them from instead of the console.
  • Didn't forget to add it... I refer to it as a severence package because it's not a bonus.
  • If you're worried over an extra 25 a year for the 360, get your priorities in order.
    For One owners this is a non-issues, one main HOME account with Gold is all thats required and since my family doesn't take their gamertags with them, its perfect. 
    For 360 users, tough luck. This isn't new news. Family Passes were on the chopping block months ago.
  • Try managing the purchases of a bunch of kids, then tell me its a non issue.
  • I do, and I simply add points as needed on a per purchase basis. Keeps things very simple for each account I manage.
  • where do you get $25 extra a year? try $240 a year for 4 Vs $99
  • Gold is about 25$ for a year.
  • I'd like to know where you get it for $25 a year. Link, please.
  • I will hold Microsoft liable for any unapproved purchases my child makes on "His" account, which will have be tied to a credit card - unless they are going to issue one to him! Currently, the kids are in my family Pack and only My account can purchase Points, which I can transfer to them as I see fit. MS must be populated by only non-breeding Nerds and overpaid Executives if they think this is going to increase revenue. Families will upgrade their 360's for PlayStations in droves!
  • I switched to XBox after PlayStation had their debacle and enjoyed it so much I bought a second 360 so we don't have to play the sucky split screen. Now I have to sell one since I am NOT paying for 3 additional memberships and I guess I will sell the 2nd one too so we don't have to fight over who get's to play the one.
    I'm going back to my PS2 and Microsoft can go screw themselves, screwing up the ONE thing they have EVER done right.
  • This I have to say sucks, but I'm going to enjoy my XB ONE
  • Might have to up it in a week. Just before it expires.
  • The Gold account on the Xbox One is still a single account, family members are able to share the benefits so long as that one account is signed in. On the 360, as long as the Gold member is signed, anyone using the console can use Gold media features and content, it just won't be under their own gamertag. That how my daughter watches Netflix on it. It has been that way for years, and I'd argue the reason the Family Plan is going away is a combination of this and people electing to simply buy discounted 12 month LIVE cards affecting Family Plan sales.
  • Live memberships do not have to be tied to credit cards. 12 month cards are sold at retail and online, as are MS points/currency cards. Often times, these cards are cheaper than auto-renewing on your credit card.
  • Good news for me since I'm getting the X1 and only have to pay for one Gold now for the family. Everyone can get the benefits of Gold on the house console without the gold account holder having to be logged in.
  • Interesting. Mine got canceled few months ago with emails before warning me that once my subscription ran out they weren't offering anymore. Didn't think this was news
  • Not sure what I think abou this yet. On the one hand it could be cheaper but I need to replace the 3 current units with new ones which means that it will not be.
    My main gripe right now is the loss of central control, I use famiy to manage the accounts and granting allowances is the biggest feature I use.
  • My family pack is getting 3 months free for each of us. And I only need to buy one in future for Xbox one! Nice
  • Oh no.....
    Now I have to pay 8p x 4 per day.... This is going to break the bank.... NOT!
  • Good example of press twisting the facts to sound worse than it is. All accounts will get single gold membership for however long that may be (tip:- renew beforehand get a single gold valid for 12mths) users on Xbox then will enjoy the new share option. This allows all in same house to run off the back of the primary account, DLC, ONLINE, SKYPE ETC all covered. This article states "end of the gold family pack" ... What's the FULL STORY?!?!
  • Well that's a bit shitish then
  • So glad im getting a ps4. Microsoft has been screwing Xbox users for a while now
  • Another bad PR move. Shocker.
  • Microsoft is on a roll turning gold into lead. Now that's a trick.
  • I could put up with thus if MS gave me Balmer's credit card to hook my children's individual accounts to. So he can pay the freight when an underage child goes on a spending rampage with it on their Individual Account. Right now I'm the only one who has the ability to spend my money on our 360. Look for MS to get deluged by refusals to pay the bills for $80 games downloaded by 8 year olds. These aren't $3 Apps on the family iPad which is a constant problem for Apple.
  • GROUPON should jump on this.....boy, what exposure this would get them!
  • You guys crack me up. The features between the PS4 and Xbox One are not really a one to one ratio. I can assure you that the Live features associated with Xbox One will be in a class of their own. Microsoft has the experience, the expertise, the resources, intellectual property and one of the single most advanced cloud infrastructures on the planet. The old saying that you get what you pay for will be equally true for Live. How many new servers did they put in to support Xbox One? Its a truly staggering accomplishment in and of itself and it has the potential to become a persistent gaming experience like no other. Do you guys think that kind of infrastructure is cheap? Sony knows that they don't have the stones to compete with that so they had to try to play up the console specs and "free" features. Provided that developers make use of the distributed computing model, the Xbox One will provide gaming features and quality that is second to none. There is a good chance that Microsoft's up front investment is seriously eating into their profit margin but true to form, they are playing the long game. They have invested vast resources from countless product lines to create a, "gaming console". Everything from the Windows 8 kernel to Azure. They are probably using an iteration of App-V for streaming games. These are tried and true products not something that they threw together to compete with the PS4 feature list. Obviously, Microsoft believes that they are delivering the best experience by including things like Kinect and requiring Xbox Live Gold to access advances features. You may prefer it if they didn't but no one is forcing you to use their world class cloud infrastructure or to pay the price of admission. If next generation computing and gaming is not what you want, buy something else. Nearly all of you would have considered $100 per month for a mobile phone with data plan to be ludicrous 5-10 years ago but its pretty clear that the cost to benefit ratio is worth it to a very large percentage of the world's population now. Maybe many of you will feel differently when you experience it first hand or maybe Microsoft and their developer partners will drop the ball. When someone holds a gun to your head and forces you to buy something, feel free to whine. Until then, try to remember that product release cycles have a tendency to change and the best way to influence that is with constructive feedback. Just imagine how much more money you would have in your pocket if people invested this much time and energy into a democratic political process. Government officials just piss away tax dollars every day but most don't bat an eye. When Microsoft changes a few features, policies and prices, everyone pulls out pitch forks. Its mind boggling when you think about it.
  • MS will back track and modify it's position without a doubt. The optics of recent moves are just horrible.
  • This article is misleading. Home Gold is the new standard and makes it cheaper for the household. They only need a gold account PER CONSOLE. Every account on the console will benefit from gold. Last I checked PS offers something similar. Ignorance is bliss..
  • Oh look, MS and the X-Bone are at it again!
  • Cancelled all my family accounts, and won't be buying xbox products in the future. 
    Extremly disapointing as I've been a supportor since the original xbox and have had a family membership for my kids since they first offered them.
  • Totally disgusted with MIcrosoft and their Xbox live department. There was an Xbox 360 dashboard update around the 10th of December 2013 and as of this day, 1000s of child accounts are still locked out of xbox live and possibly remain so for the christmas holidays with an error code 83118853 .  It asks the child to get a parent to approve their accounts all over again, with an additional email address, mobile number and worse credit card details to make a transaction of .50c to prove it's controlled by a parent. You can imagine how many parents would think they are doing something wrong, or have a corrupt email accont. The whole process loops around.  I wasted hours thinking the problem was our end, waited days for something to clear, until we discovered the xbox support forums and it seems Microsoft don't have a fix. There are 25 pages of complaints in one thread alone. There's a lot of angry and stressed parents unable to get through to Microsoft's phone support. the forums just use 'ambassadors' , there are no official staff there. The official staff are too busy bragging on Twitter about Xbox One exploits. What MS don't seem to realize, is that these kids (and parents) are their potential customers of new products in a very uncertain future for Microsoft. As for customer service, they' made no attempt to contact owners during this down period, like Apple or Steam do. Asking money for every gamertag is price gouging. You should pay per console, imagine if our ISPs charged internet access at home per person.
  • I'm a latecomer to this whole thing, and I know this thread isnt exactly new, but wanted to add my dimesworth... My situation is thus: mum, dad and 2 daughters. Live together in same house. Share the use of a single XBox 360 console (i.e. No other consoles in the house). Dad has a 12 month live gold subscription. The other 3 family members do not. Dad purchased this subscription for the purpose of getting online / using Netflix. Little to no interest in multiplayer gaming online. Dad wants to allow wife and daughters to get online at home WITHOUT the need to log into his account to go online / use Netflix etc. It appears from what I've read up to now that to achieve this, Dad is going to have to purchase 3 more subscriptions, so another $180? Effectively saying that MS is charging per user to access Live Gold features on a single physical console... Bearing in mind of course, that by simply allowing Mum and the kids to log into his account, Dad can have everyone getting online without having to pay for extra accounts. (Don't even get me started on the fact that after paying over $250 for our console / Kinect, and $20 - $60 per game (depending on which game it is), and $30-$60 per extra controller (we have 2 extra controllers) , Microsoft is now charing me $60 annually  for me to access the internet via a home connection that I already pay $60 per month for from my ISP...)