According to VentureBeat’s Jeff Grubb, Microsoft could be removing the Xbox Live Gold requirement for playing online multiplayer across its family of platforms.
This new piece of information has emerged following the rumour that Halo Infinite’s multiplayer will be launching as a free-to-play experience later this year, with Grubb conversing with people on Twitter about the potential abandonment of Xbox Live Gold.
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At the time of writing, Xbox Live Gold is required to play online multiplayer in any capacity, and that includes free-to-play experiences such as Fortnite, Apex Legends and Call of Duty: Warzone. It seems that Microsoft is aware that high user engagement can result in bigger returns, and a paywall to online multiplayer is one obstacle they could do without.
Some have previously believed that Xbox Live Gold would instead be incorporated under Game Pass Ultimate, rolling all of Microsoft’s monthly subscriptions into one cohesive service. However, this apparently won’t be the case, and Microsoft won’t force you into the Game Pass ecosystem if you want to play online, although it will remain a big part of its next-gen strategy.
This is positively huge if true, and definitely makes sense when you consider the Xbox experience is now spread across multiple platforms and services. Paying one subscription, in this case Game Pass Ultimate, is easily the most convenient option Microsoft could pursue, and it seems to be the direction it is heading in.
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You will require PlayStation Plus to access online multiplayer on PS5, so if Microsoft abandons Xbox Live Gold it will put them at a huge advantage. We’re set to hear more about Xbox Series X and the coming generation this August, so there’s a possibility Microsoft will address these rumours in some capacity. Xbox Series S is also due a reveal after months of speculation, acting as an entry-level console of sorts for those wanting a more powerful machine without breaking the bank.
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