It’s long been a point of contention in the gaming community that Microsoft’s Xbox Live is the most egregious requirement for online among all available options. Without Xbox Live, you’re left with a very limited range of options on your console, which can make things rather difficult. Still, considering its only been $60 a year, that hasn’t been too big of a deal. Despite that, the community has been less than happy about it being the case at all. With that being said, it seems Microsoft is looking to finally loosen restrictions.
Xbox Insiders in Alpha Skip Ahead & Alpha today we are flighting some new features. Multiplayer in Free-to-play games, Looking 4 Groups and Party Chat on Xbox no longer requires an Xbox Live Gold membership as we flight and test these service changes ahead of general availability
— Xbox Insider (@xboxinsider) March 24, 2021
According to @xboxinsider on Twitter, Xbox Live Gold will no longer be required for multiplayer in free-to-play games, Looking 4 Groups, or Party Chat. As much as free-to-play games have been available for free since Microsoft’s massive mistake not too long ago, this is still massive news for those without the service. Having extra features without having to pay a premium is never a bad thing. Don’t expect these changes to come incredibly soon though, as it will likely require some extensive testing through the Insider program before being pushed to live.
While this all seems great, it’s worth noting that these changes likely come due to Xbox Game Pass. While no official announcement has been made on the subject, Microsoft is making it quite clear that they want to phase Xbox Live Gold into being part of Game Pass, allowing users to only pay one premium instead of two for a fulfilling experience. This, combined with the announcement that Xbox Live is changing to “the Xbox network” likely spells a merger in the imminent future.
Still, I’d love to hear your thoughts on all this. Are you excited for more features to make their way to users without Xbox Live? Let me know in the comments below.