Microsoft has backtracked on an announcement that it would raise the price of Xbox Live Gold memberships after an outcry from gamers. Many pointed out that it was tactless to raise prices on gaming when many people are staying at home due to the pandemic and gaming provides a much-needed form of safe entertainment.
In a blog post first posted on Friday, January 22, Microsoft said it would increase the price of Gold memberships by $1 for one-month memberships and $5 for three-month memberships in the U.S., with equivalent prices hikes in other regions too. That would have raised prices to $11 for one month and $30 for three months. Prices for six-month and 12-month memberships would have remained unchanged.
The company said this plan reflected changes in regional marketplaces and that, “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.”
However, many gamers were unhappy about this change and felt that it was a deliberate attempt to push people toward the more expensive six- and 12-month membership plans. It came across to some as a rather tone-deaf attempt to capitalize on the popularity of multiplayer gaming during the pandemic.
Microsoft quickly reversed its announcement. In an update to the blog post on Friday, January 22, the company wrote, “We messed up today and you were right to let us know. 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.”
In addition, Microsoft says it is changing the way that free-to-play games work on Xbox Live. Previously, players needed an Xbox Live Gold membership to play free-to-play games on multiplayer. Now, players will be able to play free-to-play multiplayer games without a Gold membership.
Pricing for Xbox Live Gold will remain the same: One-month memberships will cost $10, three-month memberships will cost $25, six-month memberships will cost $40, and one-year memberships will cost $60.
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