Following rumors that Xbox Live Gold might be changing to a free service, Microsoft issued a statement to Windows Central, clarifying that the service will not be seeing any sort of major changes in the immediate future. The rumors intensified thanks to some interesting language in Microsoft's Service Agreement, where mentions of "Xbox Live" were changed to "Xbox Online Service." However, it seems that the change in wording was an intentional move on Microsoft's part, in order to distinguish between certain unpaid online services and Xbox Live Gold. Microsoft's full statement to Windows Central can be read in its entirety below.
"The update to 'Xbox online service' in the Microsoft Services Agreement refers to the underlying Xbox service that includes features like cross-saves and friend requests. 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."
Some of the confusion might stem from the fact that multiplayer in Halo Infinite will be free-to-play. While players will need to subscribe to Xbox Live Gold to participate in the festivities, Xbox owners will not have to purchase the single-player campaign, should they choose not to. The move was announced on July 31st, following similar rumors.
The idea of Xbox offering its online service for free might seem a bit far-fetched in retrospect, but the company has been making a number of bold moves over the last few months. The Xbox Series X will have a large focus on backwards compatibility. Xbox boss Phil Spencer has decried next-gen exclusive games, and all first-party Xbox Series X titles will also be available on Xbox One. Additionally, Xbox One controllers will also be compatible with the new hardware. Clearly, the company is looking for new ways to expand its audience, while making some drastic changes to the way that the industry operates. Within that context, the idea of Microsoft's online model shifting to a free service seems a bit more plausible!
Unfortunately, those hoping to see Xbox Live Gold changing over to a free service might have been hoping for too much. For now, Xbox fans will just have to stick with the current tier options, which range from $10 a month to $60 per year.
Were you hoping to see Xbox Live Gold switch to a free service? Are you a fan of the online service? Let us know in the comments or share your thoughts directly on Twitter at @Marcdachamp to talk all things gaming!