Skip to main content

Microsoft confirms Xbox Live isn’t going anywhere anytime soon

Microsoft made an important change the other day to its service agreement, replacing mention of Xbox Live with Xbox online service. We reached out to the company regarding this change, and here’s what one of its spokespersons had to say.

“The update to ‘Xbox online service’ in the Microsoft Services Agreement refers to the underlying Xbox service that includes features like cross-saves and friend requests. This language update is intended to distinguish that underlying service, and the paid Xbox Live Gold subscription. There are no changes being made to the experience of the service or Xbox Live Gold.”

The company has clarified here that Xbox Live and its Gold subscription will remain a part of the brand for the foreseeable future, and those wishing to partake in it without committing to the Xbox Game Pass will continue to be able to do so.

Xbox Live has been around since 2002 and the very first Xbox. Its paid Gold service allows for several exclusive features, the most important of which is online multiplayer. It’s a fee that its competitor Sony had never placed on the PlayStation Network, although that changed with the PS4.

However, in recent years, Xbox Game Pass has become the lynchpin subscription that Microsoft has formed its brand around. It allows players to download certain games at no additional cost beyond a monthly fee, including all first-party Xbox games.

The company expanded the scope of the program with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which includes a selection of games to play on PC and an Xbox Live Gold subscription in one.

Massive changes to Xbox Live Gold, such as the recent inability to purchase a 12-month Xbox Live Gold pass, added more fuel to the idea that Microsoft was retiring the Xbox Live moniker altogether. It even recently announced that its flagship title for Xbox Series X, Halo Infinite, would include free-to-play multiplayer that would not require Gold. With how consumer friendly the company has become regarding its gaming sector, it’s easy to imagine how Microsoft could drop any need for a subscription in order to play games online.

Tom Caswell
Professional video producer and writer, gaming enthusiast, and streamer! twitch.tv/greatbritom
Starfield isn’t going multiplatform, but 4 Xbox games are
Key art for Starfield

 

Microsoft finally gave its fans an update on the future of its gaming business during the Official Xbox Podcast today. It clarified some of the speculation around its first-party games going multiplatform, explaining that this move only applies to four titles.

Read more
These Activision Blizzard games need to come to Xbox Game Pass this year
Sekiro easy mode mod FromSoftware Souls games gameplay difficulty

In October 2023, Microsoft completed its acquisition of Activision Blizzard, and by the end of the year, the latter company's CEO had departed. Now, this will be the year where we’ll see how Activision Blizzard functions when fully integrated into Microsoft. The most immediate change for those who play games will likely be Activision Blizzard titles coming to Xbox Game Pass, Microsoft’s subscription service.

Microsoft and Activision have explained that because of the tribulations the acquisition encountered, it was impossible to have Xbox Game Pass additions prepared almost immediately after the acquisition, as it did with ZeniMax Media. In the coming months, I expect we’ll finally start to see Activision Blizzard games trickle onto the service, even if we shouldn't expect it from this week's Developer_Direct. As Activision Blizzard is one of the oldest game publishers out there, having released hundreds of games, there are plenty of titles to choose from. I’ve cherry-picked the ones I want to see most.
Diablo IV

Read more
For Microsoft, indies aren’t Game Pass extras. They’re the future of Xbox
A list of indie games on Xbox appears in a grid.

Xbox may be about as corporate a brand as you can find, but it’s been a surprisingly vital platform for independent developers. That dates back to the Xbox Live Arcade days of old, when small developers were given a place to easily publish their projects on consoles. Rather than pulling away from those days, Xbox has only doubled down on its relationship to indies in the years since through initiatives like ID@Xbox and a Developer Acceleration Program designed to help underrepresented developers get their games out.

Over the past few months, the brand has been on a global tour to reach small developers directly and court them to Xbox. That effort would take the company to New York City on November 18, where Xbox leadership would speak to local developers and students about how to submit to their programs (the event would also feature a questionably timed speech from New York City Mayor Eric Adams amid an FBI investigation into his campaign funds). It’s clear that Microsoft is investing a lot of time and money into signing deals with small developers, but why make the effort when it could comfortably thrive just by publishing major titles through acquired publishers like Activision Blizzard and Bethesda?

Read more