Earlier today, Microsoft announced a price increase for Xbox Live Gold, the subscription service that lets Xbox users play games online. Somehow, Microsoft was surprised to find out that this was an unpopular move.
So less than 24 hours later, Microsoft is backtracking. Xbox Live Gold will not see its price raised. Further, free-to-play games like Fortnite will no longer require Gold to play online, making the service more competitive with PlayStation’s offering.
“We messed up today and you were right to let us know,” Microsoft notes in the announcement. “Connecting and playing with friends is a vital part of gaming and we failed to meet the expectations of players who count on it every day. As a result, we have decided not to change Xbox Live Gold pricing. We’re turning this moment into an opportunity to bring Xbox Live more in line with how we see the player at the center of their experience.”
The original decision was a bizarre one. Xbox Live Gold has done nothing to increase its value to gamers. It does what it has done for years: make online gaming possible and offer a few free titles every month. In recent years, Microsoft has put more focus on Game Pass, a subscription service that gives users access to a library of downloadable games.
If anything, we expected Microsoft to get rid of Xbox Live Gold entirely and focus instead on getting more players to subscribe to Game Pass. That’s what made the Gold price increase so strange. And, you know, this is Microsoft. If anyone could afford to lose a few dollars in the name of consumer goodwill, it’s them. Besides, free-to-play games like Fortnite bring in a ton of money to Microsoft thanks to the cut it gets from all microtransactions. Why gate people from playing those games in the first place?
Thankfully, Microsoft has come to its senses (after having to take a social media beating all day).
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