Update, January 23: Hours after Microsoft announced new prices for its Xbox Live Gold subscription service, the company reversed course and decided not to change the listed prices at all. Every price in the below article is now back to its lower, “previously” amount. Additionally, Microsoft went one step further and changed a long-standing service annoyance: Xbox Live Gold will soon not be required to access free-to-play games on consoles. Exactly how that will work wasn’t made clear on late Friday, but from the sound of things, this change will affect online F2P fare like Fortnite. (In other words, those games will finally be “free-to-play” for any Xbox user.)
“We messed up today and you were right to let us know,” the company said in its updated announcement.
Original report, January 22: Xbox users will soon have to pay at least $10/month for the baseline Xbox Live Gold subscription needed for online play on Xbox consoles. That’s a significant increase from the recent floor of $5/month for an annual subscription.
The new pricing, as Microsoft unveiled this morning is as follows (or a “local market equivalent” outside the US):
- One month: $11/month (previously $10/month)
- Three months: $30, $10/month (Previously $25, $8.33/month)
- Six months: $60, $10/month (Previously $40, $6.67/month)
A 12-month, $60 subscription plan was officially removed from Microsoft’s online store last July, but annual digital subscriptions at that $5/month rate are still currently available from a variety of retail partners. It’s unclear if those offerings will continue, but a new annual subscription option was not mentioned in Microsoft’s announcement this morning. Microsoft does note that current 6-month and 12-month subscribers will be able to “renew at the current price” for the time being, though (current members will receive email notices about the new prices, and the new rates won’t apply to them for at least 45 days).
For those who can’t renew at the old rates, the new minimum of $120/year might seem rather steep in exchange for access to online play and a handful of selected monthly “Games With Gold” freebies. A comparable 12-month PlayStation Plus subscription still costs $60, while an annual Nintendo Switch Online subscription runs just $20 (with a bevy of classic emulated NES and SNES games included).
Xbox Live Gold’s new minimum price is also just $5/month less than the $15/month base price for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. That subscription includes all the benefits of Xbox Live Gold and access to hundreds of downloadable PC and Xbox ecosystem games, as well as streaming mobile access through xCloud (regular “Game Pass for console” or “Game Pass for PC” without the Xbox Live benefits currently runs $10/month).
The Xbox Live price increase seems designed to drive more users to that expanded Game Pass Ultimate offering, which passed 15 million subscribers last September. In fact, users who upgrade a current Xbox Live Gold subscription to Game Pass Ultimate will automatically have up to 36 months of pre-paid Xbox Live subscription time converted to Game Pass Ultimate for free (echoing similar conversion deals offered in the past).
Microsoft last raised the price of Xbox Live back in 2010, when a one-month subscription increased from $8 to $10 and an annual subscription went from $50 to $60.
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