In a surprise move, Microsoft has backpedalled on its original decision and will not increase Xbox Live Gold’s cost following significant backlash from gamers.
Below is the complete blog post from Microsoft regarding the decision (note that the prices below are in USD):
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’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.
If you are an Xbox Live Gold member already, you stay at your current price for renewal. New and existing members can continue to enjoy Xbox Live Gold for the same prices they pay today. In the US, $9.99 for 1-month, $24.99 for 3-months, $39.99 for 6-months and $59.99 for retail 12-months.
In Canada, 1-month Gold subscriptions were set to go up to $12.99 from $11.99, 3-months would cost $34.99 up from $29.99 and 6-months would have cost $69.99 up from $44.99. Microsoft didn’t reveal pricing regarding 12-month subscriptions, though their current cost is $69.99, the same price as the new 6-month subscription price if the change went into effect.
The company also says that free-to-play games like Apex Legends and Fortnite will no longer require an Xbox Live Gold membership. Halo Infinite, one of the Xbox platform’s biggest upcoming titles, is set to feature a free-to-play multiplayer mode.
This brings Microsoft’s approach to online gaming with the Xbox in-line with Sony’s PlayStation consoles and Nintendo’s Switch given both platform’s don’t require a subscription to play free-to-play titles online. Microsoft says that it’s “working hard to deliver this change as soon as possible in the coming months.”
This is a great move by the company given the price hike made it seem like the tech giant was pushing gamers towards subscribing to its more expensive $16.99 per month Xbox Game Pass Ultimate service that includes Xbox Live Gold, access to all current and upcoming Microsoft first-party game releases (as well as numerous third-party titles) through Game Pass on Xbox and PC, EA’s video game subscription service EA Play and Xbox cloud gaming on Android (formerly called xCloud).
While Game Pass is a great deal, there are likely a lot of people out there that just want to continue subscribing to Xbox Live Gold and were upset by the price increase.