Xbox Live Gold, Microsoft’s online service for Xbox, is about to get more expensive. The company announced this morning that subscriptions will go up by $US1 ($1.50) to $US11 ($14) a month in the coming weeks. The new cheapest option for an annual subscription is paying for the $US60 ($78) six month plan twice, double what a year of Xbox Live Gold cost last January.
The service, which is required to play games online on Xbox consoles, was previously priced at $US10 ($13) per month, $US25 ($32) for three months, and $US60 ($78) for an entire year. Last July, Microsoft nixed the year-long subscription option, but it’s still available to buy for a time from stores like GameStop and Amazon. Going forward, Microsoft will only offer half a year of Xbox Live Gold for the same price of $US60 ($78).
“Periodically, we assess the value and pricing of our services to reflect changes in regional marketplaces and to continue to invest in the Xbox community; we’ll be making price adjustments for Xbox Live Gold in select markets,” Microsoft wrote in today’s announcement. “In many markets, the price of Xbox Live Gold has not changed for years and in some markets, it hasn’t changed for over 10 years.”
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Xbox Live originally launched back in 2002 shortly after the original Xbox came out at $US50 ($65) a year. Silver and Gold-tiered plans were later introduced in 2007 with the arrival of the Xbox 360. The last time Microsoft raised the price of the Gold plan was in 2010 when subscriptions went from $US8 ($10) to $US10 ($13) per month, $US20 ($26) to $US25 ($32) for three months, and $US50 ($65) to $US60 ($78) per year. That’s where the price has been until now. PlayStation in turn rolled out a similar service with PlayStation Plus, and Nintendo began charging for online play on the Switch shortly after the console released with its Switch Online program. On PC, games are still free to play online.
This latest increase seems poised to push more Xbox players into becoming Game Pass Ultimate subscribers, the Microsoft service that bundles both Xbox Live Gold and its Netflix-like library of games, Game Pass, into one package for $US15 ($19) a month. Microsoft has been touting Game Pass subscription numbers, which surpassed 15 million last fall, rather than how many consoles it’s actually sold in recent years, as Xbox moves from being a console-specific platform to one that exists on PC and, now with xCloud streaming, smartphones as well.
Update – 1:05 p.m. ET, 1/22/21: The first paragraph of the story was updated to clarify the change in subscription price for 12 months of Xbox Live Gold from a year ago.