Microsoft has been experimenting a lot with its Xbox subscriptions, and it appears the company is finally going in the right direction to compete against rivals such as Sony and Nintendo. In a post on Twitter and other social media channels, the software giant has announced that select Xbox users are no longer required to have an Xbox Live Gold membership to play free-to-play-tiles in multiplayer and use the party chat feature. The new development pertains to Xbox Insider testers on Alpha Skip Ahead and Alpha channels, though a mass rollout is expected in the coming weeks, if not days. Microsoft had first announced that it would drop Xbox Live Gold membership to use multiplayer mode for free-to-play online titles like Fortnite back in January after it “messed up” by hiking membership fees. Many fans had noted that changes were introduced to push the premium Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription over the Live Gold model. Currently, the Xbox Live Gold subscription is available to purchase in India at Rs 489 per month.
The decision to drop Xbox Live Gold membership to play free-to-play titles in multiplayer mode is particularly useful for casual gamers or those who do not have the extra money to play a handful of games online. Xbox Live Gold will still seemingly have premium features such as free games and Xbox Live free play days. Back in 2020, Microsoft had also decided to drop the paywall to use cloud storage. The company had also dropped the annual Xbox Live Gold subscription. Earlier this year, the monthly Xbox Live Gold plan in the US was hiked from $10 (roughly Rs 700) to $11 (Rs 800). The three-month plan went from $25 (roughly Rs 1,800) to $30 (roughly Rs 2,00), while the six-month plan was revised from $40 (roughly Rs 2,900) to $60 (roughly Rs 4,400). While reversing the price hike, Microsoft said that Xbox users were right to let them know the company “messed up.”
Xbox Insiders in Alpha Skip Ahead & Alpha today we are flighting some new features. Multiplayer in Free-to-play games, Looking 4 Groups and Party Chat on Xbox no longer requires an Xbox Live Gold membership as we flight and test these service changes ahead of general availability— Brad Rossetti (@WorkWombatman) March 24, 2021
Recently, Microsoft announced its online multiplayer gaming and digital media delivery service Xbox Live is getting rebranded to Xbox Network. The name change is intended to distinguish the underlying service from Xbox Live Gold memberships.