Microsoft is making some big changes to how both Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Live Gold subscriptions work. One of these changes involves refunds. More specifically, Microsoft will now contact Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Live Gold subscribers on 12-month subscriptions and give them the option to end their contract and claim a proportional refund. Previously, this wasn't possible. This is only one of a few pro-consumer changes.
One of the big worries about signing up for a subscription is forgetting about it. In fact, this is something Netflix, Amazon Prime, and more bank on. That said, going forward Microsoft is now going to contact all existing customers with inactive memberships about stopping payments. From here, if the inactivity continues, the subscription will be halted. How much time has to pass for something to qualify as "inactive" and how long the inactivity has to continue before the subscription is cancelled, we don't know. This information is not provided.
Microsoft is also going to provide better alerts to price increases to both subscription services, though, again, it's unclear how it will achieve this.
Lastly, Microsoft is now committed to providing more information up front, which includes alerting customers to auto-renew policies, how to turn off auto-renew, and how refunds can be granted following an accidental auto-renew.
All of this follows pressure from the UK's Competition and Markets Authority, which is currently investigating not just the auto-renew policies on Xbox, but on Nintendo and PlayStation as well. Right now though, there's no word of changes to subscription services on these platforms.
"Other companies offering memberships and subscriptions that auto-renew should take note, and review their practices to ensure they comply with consumer protection law," said Michael Grenfell, CMA's Executive Director of Enforcement, of the news.
As always, we will keep you updated as the situation evolves. In the meantime, for more coverage on all things Xbox -- including not just the latest news, but the latest rumors, leaks, speculation, and deals -- click here.