Ever since Phil Spencer became the Head of Xbox in 2014, he has helped give the Xbox brand a new image, one far different from that which was introduced at the Xbox One reveal. Spencer’s direction allowed Microsoft to focus on creating the best games, coming from the best studios, in-house or otherwise.
One of the bigger contributions he has made to Xbox is the creation of Game Pass, which has become one of the biggest selling points for the Xbox family of consoles. Since Game Pass and its premium option Game Pass Ultimate first hit the scene, the existing Xbox Live Gold service has had its own fate questioned.
A few months before the Xbox Series X launch, it was rumored that Xbox Live Gold would go away, forcing the player to join Game Pass Ultimate in order to get access to both Xbox Live Gold and Game Pass. Xbox quickly put out a statement mentioning that Xbox Live Gold was not going anywhere.
This past week, Xbox announced a price change for Xbox Live Gold. A one month subscription for Xbox Live Gold would increase to $10.99 a month, compared to a $15 a month price tag for a GamePass Ultimate subscription. Instead of one year costing $60 USD, it would now cost $120 USD. That means that Gold would be priced $60 less than a year subscription of Game Pass Ultimate.
One aspect of this price increase which stood out is needing an Xbox Live Gold subscription to play Free To Play titles such as Call of Duty: Warzone, Fortnite and Rocket League. For a service that lets people play online games and gives them a few free titles every month, many people thought this price increase was a bad move following the past year of goodwill that Xbox had garnered up to that point.
Less than 24 hours after announcing the price hike, Xbox reversed their plans to increase the price of Xbox Live Gold. In their statement posted on Xbox Wire, Xbox acknowledged that it messed up.
“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.”
Along with the reversal of the price increase, Xbox also sought to make up for it.
“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.”
It should be stated that people do not need to subscribe to the online services for the other consoles to play free-to-play games. It is great that Xbox is finally adding this ability.
This past year more than any other year proved that video games bring people together. Being able to play some of the most popular games with your family and friends without having to worry about paying an extra fee is a great feature that Xbox should’ve implemented much sooner.
Game Pass Forever
I believe this move was made by Xbox to lead gamers to leave Xbox Live Gold and sign up for Game Pass Ultimate. Xbox doesn’t want to have Xbox Live Gold subscribers and Game Pass Ultimate subscribers. It wants every person who owns an Xbox console to be subscribed to Game Pass Ultimate.
Game Pass Ultimate is $15 a month, giving people access to the Game Pass library on Xbox, PC, the cloud service xCloud, and the Xbox Live Gold subscription benefits. For an extra $5 a month, it would be worth it for all this incredible package.
Game Pass adds titles often throughout each month, and it will also feature every first party Xbox title on release day. Having players spend $15 a month, while giving them a wide variety of games on Game Pass, will keep the players locked into that subscription and by extension the broader Xbox ecosystem.
The Reach of Xbox
When the new consoles were launching, one of the major draws to the Xbox Series S was it being a Game Pass machine. It is a cheaper way to get into the Xbox ecosystem, besides buying the more expensive Series X, and would have the consumer purchase a Game Pass subscription along with it.
With the Xbox app on Android allowing people to play console quality games through the xCloud service on their phone, Xbox is stretching its hand out beyond the walls of console hardware and is trying to reach anyone who wants to play video games. The cloud service will also be coming to iOS devices through a browser in 2021.
Xbox Live Gold is an older subscription, yet while it’s still kicking and going strong, it isn’t in the spotlight as it was during the Xbox 360 era. Game Pass is the hottest part of the Xbox ecosystem, and while the price increase was a terrible move, it’s understandable that Xbox wanted players to boost their Game Pass numbers and broaden the scope of Game Pass beyond their consoles.