Microsoft made a major misstep this past week, announcing a sudden price increase for Xbox Live Gold. The announcement was met with extreme criticism as the increase would’ve effectively doubled the cost of the online service. Many believed it was Microsoft’s way of encouraging more users to sign up with Game Pass Ultimate.
In any case, Microsoft quickly realized it messed up and acknowledged as much in an updated post. As a result, the company quickly backtracked and decided not to increase the price of Xbox Live Gold.
We messed up today and you were right to let us know. 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 can all agree it was initially a crappy move on Microsoft’s part, but at least the company realized that. And, gamers ultimately came out of it with a better deal than before.
As part of the criticism of the price increase, many also pointed out that Microsoft is the only company of the big three that requires its users to have an online membership to play free-to-play games on its consoles. Games like Fortnite and Call of Duty: Warzone were previously gated behind Xbox Live Gold, while being completely free to access on PlayStation and Nintendo (no PS Plus or Nintendo Switch Online required).
Microsoft apparently has seen the light and also changed its stance on free-to-play games.
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.
Unfortunately, this isn’t an immediate change. Apparently, this requires some work on Microsoft’s end but the company is hoping to deliver this change “as soon as possible in the coming months.”
So while 2021 got off to a little drama, it seems it all worked out well in the end. As it currently stands, Xbox Live Gold in the U.S. will now cost $9.99 for 1-month, $24.99 for 3-months, $39.99 for 6-months, and $59.99 for retail 12-months.