Xbox Live Gold price increase reversed, Gold no longer required for free to play games

Xbox Live Sign
Xbox Live Sign (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Earlier, Microsoft announced the price of Xbox Live Gold would be increased.
  • This price hike has just been reversed.
  • Additionally, Xbox Live Gold is no longer required for free-to-play games.

Earlier today, Microsoft announced the price of Xbox Live Gold was being increased, with a six month subscription going for $60. This led to a large outcry, including scathing commentary from our own Xbox lead Jez Corden, who called it "the worst deal in gaming."

Microsoft has just announced (opens in new tab) that the price hike is being cancelled. Additionally, Xbox Live Gold will no longer be required for free-to-play games, such as Fortnite or Call of Duty: Warzone. This latter change is being worked on but will be coming sometime "as soon as possible in the coming months."

Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate are staying unchanged, meaning they'll deliver the same benefits as before.

This change was sudden and brings Xbox Live Gold closer in line with PlayStation Plus, which has not been required for playing free-to-play online games. Halo Infinite is set to release sometime in Fall 2021 and when it does, the multiplayer will be free-to-play. Now, players will no longer need to pick up Xbox Live Gold in order to enjoy it, making it truly free.

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Samuel Tolbert is a freelance writer covering gaming news, previews, reviews, interviews and different aspects of the gaming industry, specifically focusing on Xbox and PC gaming on Windows Central. You can find him on Twitter @SamuelTolbert.

17 Comments
  • uh this is awkward
  • Pay no attention to the dumbass behind the curtian.
  • Somebody got taken to the wood shed.
  • They probably were testing the waters but it backfired heavily, at t least now they are almost at the level of the competition (they still don't offer 12 month subscription option). I won't commend them for this, they were trying to be super anti-consumidor and online should be free.
  • It’s not a bad policy. Even PlayStation Plus is required for online play and that costs the same too. They have to pay for servers and pay to take care of them and pay for support, there is no earthly way for them to make money without paid services.
  • It's a bad policy, Steam, GoG, Epic game store, Google Play store, Apple App Store, Microsoft Store on PC, etc. don't do it, that's because maintaining the servers is super cheap and doesn't require 60$ a year for PS and 80$ for Xbox to maintain. The PS3 and Vita don't need it and the stuff there works well.
  • @Goncaio Your basic point is right. But PS3 days of Sony's online services sucked. It was down for weeks at a time. It was hacked several times. They were sued and fined several times. It was just god awful because they didn't charge and no incentive to actually make it good.
  • The PS3 was awful at the beggining but at the end it was nice, games didn't have any problems.
  • If that is the argument it still doesn't explain how PC games, using the same Live services, can be free then. I still maintain that almost all other similar online services don't charge because it makes little sense nowadays to do so. Only consoles seem to do it. The original need for charging for Gold was for building out data centers themselves. Gold existed long before Azure and these billion-dollar data centers were constructed and the new Azure business model was created (2010). Prior to that Xbox had to really do a lot of it on its own. Now Gold just tags along for the ride when these huge data centers are built. The actual maintenance is quite low as you can see from how profitable Gold is.
  • What the heck were they thinking? If they really wanted everyone to be on game pass, all they had to do was cancel gold and everyone that had a gold subscription would automatically be upgraded to Xbox game pass ultimate. Problem solved. To be a multi-billion dollar company, they sometime make the most questionable decisions
  • But ultimate coats more so no. Suddenly charging more never goes well. Seems pretty obvioua
  • Well over a hundred games available to play at any given time plus Xbox live gold for 15 bucks is a great deal. Not to mention if you search the internet, you can find a good deal on game pass ultimate at a discounted price almost all the time. Just last month it was going for 20 bucks for 3 months
  • I argued the other day that canceling the need for Gold entirely would have been a bigger drive for increasing GPU enrollment than this foolish attempt to price out Gold and make GPU seem like a bargain. First, it would be pro-consumer and that always makes good headlines compared to the anti-consumer move they made the other day and the barage of bad press. Secondly, it would have put pressure on Sony who relies very much on PS+ and made Xbox stand out as a better proposition. Would Sony be able to react similarly? Doubtful. Those looking at PS in that situation would calculate the advantage of no paying $60 every year for Gold in their decision (saving $300+ over a gen). That would lead to more sales for Series console which would lead to more possible subscribers in Game Pass and Game Pass Ultimate. Just like those seeing Gold possibly going through the roof were eyeing PS5 as a better proposition. Third, those already on Xbox not having to pay Gold any longer would at some level invest in a tier of Game Pass. Much more likely than seeing a rush to pay GPU after hiking up Gold prices. Several people I know who plan on buying Series X in the coming months were rethinking that decision yesterday and might have bought a PS5 instead for the very reason that removing Gold would drive users to Xbox, it was cheaper on PS. Can you imagine a casual price-conscious gamer looking at Series S as a bargain then realizes that Gold costs twice as much and in that first year of Gold they are closing in on the $100 price differential of the PS5 AD. I can't understand how MS ever thought nobody will do the math in their head.
  • Halo Infinite multiplayer microtransactions are going to be insane
  • And? What does that have to do with Gold costing more or being free?
  • Gears 5 will be a part of gold next month. Also Indiana Jones and the Emperor's tomb. Definitely not a coincidence after the Bethesda announcement last week. Could this be a sign that the new Indiana Jones is going to be XBox exclusive? Stay tuned!
  • Strange way to test out new policies but on the positive side at least now we get free multiplayer for free-to-play games. Even though you will get accurate feedback when you do these things in production it hurts your reputation and that's the last thing MS needs.