Yesterday, it was announced that the base price of new and renewed Xbox Live Gold subscriptions would increase by quite a bit. The changes hit different blocks of sub time differently, but the big takeaway was that the yearly price for the online multiplayer service would double, all the way up to $120.
The reason for this was not because of a big change in service quality, more that Microsoft wanted to push gamers toward the newer Xbox Game Pass Ultimate service. This bundle would still be more expensive than basic Gold, but also included access to more than 100 downloadable games each month. As one might expect, gamers didn’t like this idea.
A big part of why the criticism was so harsh has to do with the way Xbox Live Gold impacts online multiplayer. Other competing products for Sony and Nintendo consoles are not only cheaper, but offer better service. This is because those other two services don’t charge for multiplayer with free-to-play titles. That has all changed now. Microsoft has reversed course and undone plans for increasing prices for now, although don’t expect it to last.
Once they can get away with it, the price will go up. The company will likely just wait a few months until people forget about all this, then raise prices anyway. At least now, they have committed to not charging for free-to-play content, so that’s nice I guess. That change will take time though, and expect an announcement when it happens.
Microsoft has been pouring tons of focus on Xbox Game Pass in recent months. The company wants to make more money, and whatever, but doing it through massive price increases is bound to anger some people. it only remains to be seen what else they try to change to increase profit margins next.
Here’s Microsoft’s full statement, which was just delivered as an update to a blog post:
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.