Update on January 26: Xbox has apologized on Twitter for "missing the mark" when announcing that the price of Xbox Live Gold was essentially going to double. After quite a bit of community outrage, Xbox claims that the service will remain the same price it has been for the past ten years. The company also promises that free-to-play games will no longer be limited by Xbox Live Gold, meaning titles like Fortnite and Halo Infinite can be played online without needing a subscription.
Xbox Live has been around for a little over 18 years now, and what started as an online service for $49.99 a year has remained relatively consistent since then. In 2010, Microsoft hiked the price of the service by $10, but ever since, it's remained $59.99 a year for the past decade.
Some believed a price increase was inevitable, while others believed that Microsoft would get rid of Xbox Live Gold altogether. However, it's hard to say that anyone saw this coming: Microsoft just raised the price for Xbox Live Gold from $60 a year to $120 a year, a price hike that will surely shock any casual consumer.
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As far as pricing goes, one month of Xbox Live Gold costs $10.99 in the US. For 3 months, it'll be $29.99, and for 6 months, it'll cost $59.99. As a result, you're going to be paying $119.98 a year for Xbox Live Gold. However, if you're still on an existing 12-month or 6-month subscription, the price won't change until your subscription has been renewed.
It's quite obvious that Microsoft is trying coerce consumers into paying for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which is currently $180 and provides access to Xbox Live Gold, hundreds of games to play, services like EA Play and other perks.
This will force consumers to choose between paying $120 for Xbox Live Gold with minor additional perks, or Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, a service that comes with tons of cool stuff and is frequently referred to as the best deal in gaming. Although this plan might work, it's largely frustrating, and many people have taken to Twitter to voice their concerns.
Jeff Grub, a VentureBeat reporter, predicted last year that Microsoft would get rid of Xbox Live Gold entirely. And when hearing the news of its price increase, it's clear he's not particularly happy about it.
Every few months, Xbox needs to do something to remind people it's not actually that in touch with gamers or reality. $120 for a year of Xbox Live Gold (to bully people onto Game Pass) is the latest example.January 22, 2021
Many seem to agree with him, and the overwhelming consensus within the community is a mix of disappointment and shock. Even though this price increase is extreme, it's hard to tell what the future of Xbox Live Gold might look like.
Some predict that Microsoft wants to coerce people into Xbox Game Pass Ultimate as to slowly pull the service away until it's been proven obsolete. Theoretically, if the company can get as many people off of Xbox Live Gold as possible, they can get rid of the service entirely.
This price hike is dangerous in more ways than one. Microsoft's largest competitor, Sony, prices PlayStation Plus at $59.99 a year. With Xbox possessing a service at double the price, Sony now has incentive to also hike up the price of their service. In the end, we might end up paying a lot more money for little to no reason.