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Microsoft is now calling its Xbox network the “Xbox Network” — clever. And this has led the company to drop the Xbox Live branding for the wider service. Microsoft will still use that original naming convention when referring to the Xbox Live Gold subscription program. But it has already replaced all other instances of “Xbox Live” with “Xbox Network” on the Xbox user interface.
The company confirmed the change in the following statement:
“‘Xbox Network’ refers to the underlying Xbox online service, which was updated in the Microsoft Services Agreement. The update from ‘Xbox Live’ to ‘Xbox Network’ is intended to distinguish the underlying service from Xbox Live Gold memberships.”
This move comes as Microsoft continues to shift consumer focus away from Xbox Live. Earlier this year, following a disastrous decision to double the price of Xbox Live Gold, Microsoft reversed its strategy and revealed it will enable free-to-play games to bypass the Xbox Live Gold requirement. Premium-priced online multiplayer games, however, still require a Gold membership.
So as Microsoft is deprecating Xbox Live, it is also limiting references to what is turning into more of an obsolete — or at least vestigial — product offering. This is important because Xbox Network powers nearly every feature on an Xbox, and it doesn’t help Microsoft if people associate something like managing screenshots with a monthly fee. Instead, the company wants Xbox gamers to assume connectivity features as table stakes.
This may help as Xbox Live Gold slides further into the background in favor of an even heavier emphasis on Xbox Game Pass. Microsoft wants more subscribers to its Netflix-of-games service. And part of that is deemphasizing the need for Xbox Live.
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