For nearly a decade, Microsoft hasn’t raised the price of its Xbox Live Gold membership in several markets. That is changing in a dramatic way as the company tries to drive users to its newer Game Pass subscription.
Moving forward, those who purchase Xbox Live Gold codes can expect to pay twice as much for an annual membership. Each six-month code will now cost $60. For reference, a 12-month code used to cost the same before Microsoft got rid of them. Those who subscribe on a monthly basis will see a $1 increase, making Live Gold cost $10.99 a month. Three-month subscriptions will increase by $5, making them $29.99.
Microsoft has already started notifying users about the change. Unsurprisingly, gamers aren’t happy.
It’s safe to say that a price increase for Xbox Live Gold was overdue. The Xbox team wrote in a blog post on Friday that, “In many markets, the price of Xbox Live Gold has not changed for years and in some markets, it hasn’t changed for over 10 years.”
It’s worth noting that an active Live Gold subscription is necessary to play with others online. That’s true even for free-to-play games like “Fortnite,” “Rocket League,” and “Call of Duty: Warzone.”
On both PlayStation and Nintendo Switch, gamers can play online with their friends without paying for a subscription. Thanks to the price increase, Xbox gamers now need to shell out $120 a year just to play online—even if they’re only playing free titles.
Unfortunately, there is no way around this other than switching platforms entirely. While that isn’t likely to happen for most gamers, it’s worth considering for anyone that exclusively plays free titles online.
Pushing Game Pass
It’s no secret why Microsoft is upping the price of its Xbox Live Gold subscription. The company went all-in with Game Pass in 2020 and the on-demand service saw huge success. Now, Microsoft needs to find a way to convert a greater percentage of its Xbox player base into paying Game Pass subscribers.
Increasing the price of Live Gold is an indirect way to do just that. Players who sign up for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate get access to a huge library of games, xCloud streaming, and, of course, Live Gold privileges.
Although Game Pass is more expensive, the price increase for Live Gold makes it easier to justify making the switch given the former’s many benefits.
To help facilitate the jump to Game Pass, Microsoft will allow players to convert their remaining Live Gold time into a Game Pass Ultimate subscription. So, for example, if you have six months of Live Gold remaining, you can turn it into six months of Game Pass Ultimate without any extra costs.
That’s a good deal and should entice many players to make the switch. Even so, many who do will be disgruntled. As The Verge’s Tom Warren notes, Microsoft now has one of the best deals in gaming (Game Pass) and one of the worst (Xbox Live). It will be interesting to see how players respond in the coming days.