The Xbox Live Team announced today that they are removing the Xbox Live Gold subscription to play free-to-play multiplayer games today.
Effective April 21, 2021, all Xbox players can access online multiplayer for free-to-play games on their console at no charge. For these games, an Xbox Live Gold membership is no longer needed. You’ll be able to download and play online entirely for free on your Xbox console.
In addition to online multiplayer, we’re unlocking Looking for Group with the April 2021 system update, and party chat is available at no cost for all free-to-play games on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One (Xbox 360 players can use the free party option available through the Xbox mobile app).If a game or game bundle offers both free-to-play and premium/paid game modes or experiences, those experiences still require an Xbox Live Gold subscription.
The new policy changes mean that popular free-to-play games like Apex Legends, Call of Duty: Warzone, Fortnite, and Destiny 2 will no longer require a subscription. Right now, over 50 games will now be free-to-play.
It’s expected that Xbox’s strategy is to create a free-to-play ecosystem where players are more motivated to spend on microtransactions, free-to-play users could also be more tempted to join Xbox Game Pass for more free-to-play games without the need of paying two different subscriptions.
Microsoft recently reversed a price hike to its Xbox Live Gold subscription, the company stated that they “missed the mark” and that they will be turning the polemic situation into an opportunity to bring Xbox Live more in line with how we see the player at the center of their experience.
It’s important to mention that demos that require a pre-order or purchase, early access editions, trial license versions, and “$0 sale offers” of a game are considered a premium/paid experience and continue to require an Xbox Live Gold subscription.