Xbox Game Pass auto-renewal subscriptions to change after UK investigation

Xbox Game Pass is a steal — so why aren't people using it?
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft is making changes to its popular Xbox Game Pass subscription service in the UK after an investigation into auto-renewal practices of Nintendo Switch, Playstation and Xbox called for an improvement in services.  

The UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) released an update detailing Microsoft's response to the investigation, stating that the gaming giant will be making a number of changes to its Xbox Game Pass subscription service. Notably, this includes canceling inactive membership and the option of a pro-rata refund for recurring 12-month contracts. 

"Gamers need to be given clear and timely information to make informed choices when signing up for auto-renewing memberships and subscriptions," said CMA executive director of enforcement, Michael Grenfell.

CMA also states Microsoft will offer "better upfront information" to provide further support for customers to understand their Xbox membership. This includes making it clear the subscription auto-renews unless the feature is turned off, how much it costs, when it will auto-renew, and how to receive a refund when accidentally renewing. 

(Image credit: GOV.UK)

If a membership is inactive, Microsoft will contact customers who are still paying for the Xbox Game Pass subscription offering reminders on how to stop payments. If there is no response yet the subscription is still being paid, Microsoft will cancel the subscription. That's good news for anyone who has forgotten they're still a member.

Microsoft will also offer better information about price increases, and contact existing customers on recurring 12-month contracts to give them the option to end their contract and claim a pro-rata refund.

CMA's investigation launched on April 5, 2019, and continues to examine several issues when it comes to online gaming memberships. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which includes access to a growing list of games on PC, Xbox Consoles and other devices through its cloud gaming service, is priced at $14.99 / £10.99 a month.

Microsoft is the first to make these changes due to the investigation, and will hopefully some of the 25 million subscribers a big chunk of change if they don't make full use of the gaming subscription service. However, with Microsoft acquiring Activision Blizzard and continuously bringing new games to the platform, it may be worth keeping that subscription going. 

Darragh Murphy

Darragh Murphy is fascinated by all things bizarre, which usually leads to assorted coverage varying from washing machines designed for AirPods to the mischievous world of cyberattacks. Whether it's connecting Scar from The Lion King to two-factor authentication or turning his love for gadgets into a fabricated rap battle from 8 Mile, he believes there’s always a quirky spin to be made. With a Master’s degree in Magazine Journalism from The University of Sheffield, along with short stints at Kerrang! and Exposed Magazine, Darragh started his career writing about the tech industry at Time Out Dubai and ShortList Dubai, covering everything from the latest iPhone models and Huawei laptops to massive Esports events in the Middle East. Now, he can be found proudly diving into gaming, gadgets, and letting readers know the joys of docking stations for Laptop Mag.