Less than a day after announcing a price increase for Xbox Live Gold subscriptions on Friday morning, Microsoft reversed course after the decision was largely condemned by customers and the media throughout the day. In an update to his Xbox Wire announcement Posted at 11:52 pm EST – less than 15 hours after the article was originally published – Microsoft admitted it “messed up” today and “failed to meet gamers’ expectations.”
“We screwed it up today and you rightly informed us,” said Microsoft. “Connecting and playing with friends is an integral part of gaming and we haven’t met the expectations of the players who count on it every day. For this reason we have decided not to change the prices for Xbox Live Gold. “
That means prices for the current tiers – $ 9.99 for a one-month membership, $ 24.99 for three months, and $ 39.99 for six months – will still apply. (Microsoft no longer sells 12-month subscriptions, but they retail for $ 59.99.) “New and existing members can continue to enjoy Xbox Live Gold for the same prices they pay today,” said Microsoft.
Microsoft had planned to increase the fees to $ 10.99, $ 29.99 and $ 59.99, respectively, as the price of Xbox Live Gold has not changed in many markets for years and in some markets in over 10 years. That would have effectively doubled the price of an annual membership to just under $ 120 – twice as much as PlayStation Plus and six times as much as Nintendo Switch Online.
Microsoft announced not only that it had decided not to incre ase the prices of Xbox Live Gold tiers, but also promised to remove the requirement for a Gold subscription to free games “in the coming months”. Part of the complaints about Microsoft’s proposed price hike indicated that while Sony and Nintendo charge subscription fees for online multiplayer games, free titles such as: Fourteen days
“Free-to-play games are really free and you no longer need an Xbox Live Gold membership to play these games on Xbox,” said Microsoft. “We are working hard to implement this change as soon as possible in the coming months.”
A key element of the setback to Microsoft’s proposed price increases for Xbox Live Gold was that they appeared like a transparent attempt to draw customers into the company’s more expensive Xbox Game Pass Ultimate service. Microsoft has increasingly touted the size of its Xbox Game Pass player base, announcing in September that it had exceeded 15 million subscribers.
Xbox Game Pass is $ 9.99 per month on Xbox consoles or Windows PCs. The Ultimate tier, which costs $ 14.99 per month, covers both platforms and includes Live Play EA Play and Microsoft cloud gaming service xCloud as well as Xbox Live Gold. It’s certainly better value than paying for Gold and Game Pass separately, but not everyone can afford to do that – and not everyone wants it, especially if they’re primarily interested in free games.
Update (Jan 23, 12:37 am EST): Late Friday night, Microsoft updated its announcement of planned Xbox Live Gold price increases, saying it had listened to customer feedback and therefore decided against price increases. In addition, the company said that “in the coming months” will no longer require a Gold subscription to play free games.
We have edited the article to reflect this update.