The Xbox team has announced their plans of removing the Xbox Live Gold subscription as a requirement for playing free-to-play games. Several online features are being tested today as part of the Xbox Insider Program.
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. 2:35 PM · Mar 24, 2021
“This language update is intended to distinguish that underlying service, and the paid Xbox Live Gold subscription. There are no changes being made to the experience of the service or Xbox Live Gold.”… “We have no plans to discontinue Xbox Live at this time. It is an important part of gaming on Xbox today, and will continue to be in the future.”
The Xbox Live service is being rebranded to Xbox Network in order to not confuse players with the extended perks of Xbox Live.