Some serious changes are being made to Xbox Live Gold’s subscription program, as Microsoft has decided to discontinue their year-long subscription plans. As of now, only monthly and three-month Xbox Live Gold subscriptions are available from Microsoft’s website. Unfortunately, this was not an accidental change, and Microsoft definitely intended to make it happen, for reasons they extrapolated on to some extent.
Microsoft revealed their reasons to True Achievements, revealing that they have officially delisted the 12-month Xbox Live Gold plan. Prior to this delisting, such plans were available for $60, while month-long plans are $10 and three-month plans are $25. As one can easily surmise, it was much cheaper to pay for the 12-month plan than to buy four 3 month plans or 12 one-month plans. Because of this change in Microsoft’s policy, it will apparently cost about $100 to get a year of Xbox Live Gold at this point, which is only mildly cheaper than a Game Pass Ultimate subscription, which bundles a year of Xbox Live Gold with a year of Xbox Game Pass.
Granted, Xbox Game Pass has consistently been a great deal, since it lets you gain access to over 100 games for a rather cheap subscription fee. On top of that, it also gets all first-party Microsoft games now, on the very same day as they release for the first time. Going even further, it will also grant access to Project xCloud sometime this fall. But even though Game Pass offers all of this and Game Pass Ultimate bundles it with Xbox Live Gold, Microsoft hasn’t indicated in any way that they will be entirely scrapping the Xbox Live Gold program on its own. Even so, increasing the price of Xbox Live Gold is an obvious monetary ploy: if Xbox Live Gold is barely any cheaper than Game Pass Ultimate, more people will be likely to purchase the slightly more expensive Game Pass Ultimate.
This is all particularly noteworthy because an Xbox Live Gold subscription is required to play online games for Xbox One, just like PlayStation Plus on the PS4. Moreover, the Xbox Live Games With Gold program also gives subscribers four free games every month, with two of them being Xbox One games and two backward compatible Xbox 360 games. If the price of Gold increases, it will technically cost more money to get those ‘free’ games.
All in all, there’s been little reason to not choose Xbox Game Pass Ultimate over Gold alone since 2017 when it first launched, but even so, it’s a little unfair to those who are content with Gold to make their subscriptions so much more expensive than they were before. That said, it’s an understandable financial decision that one can’t really fault Microsoft for, even if it hurts the wallets of some of their customers.
Who knows: a few years from now, they may decide to get rid of Gold entirely, and just make Game Pass the only subscription option.