UPDATE: A Microsoft spokesperson has responded to comment from Video Games Chronicle, confirming that no change is being made to Xbox Live Gold or online services.
Their statement reads as follows.
“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.”
[…] “At this time Xbox has decided to remove the 12 month Xbox Live Gold SKU from the Microsoft online Store. Customers can still sign up for a 1 month or 3 month Xbox Live Gold subscription online through the Microsoft Store.”
An update to the Microsoft Services Agreement- calling Xbox Live “Xbox Online Service”- has lead to fresh speculation that the Xbox Series X will have free online multiplayer.
We previously reported how a leaked retail listing- later confirmed by Microsoft- revealed that Halo Infinite’s multiplayer will be free-to-play. Thanks to other news, this has also caused speculation that the Xbox Series X will not have charged online. Microsoft stopped selling 12-month Xbox Live Gold subscriptions on July 16th.
A Microsoft spokesperson told Inverse “At this time Xbox has decided to remove the 12 month Xbox Live Gold SKU from the Microsoft online Store. Customers can still sign up for a 1 month or 3 month Xbox Live Gold subscription online through the Microsoft Store.”
Some have speculated Microsoft have begun to phase out their paid Xbox Live Gold service- meaning we could be seeing Xbox Series X, or even the Xbox One, with no online fees by July 2021.
Now, an update to the Microsoft Services Agreement notes several changes. Heading number 6 notes the change from Xbox Live to Xbox online service. You can read the segment in full below.
“In the Xbox section and throughout the Terms, we’ve updated the Xbox heading, changed Xbox Live to refer to Xbox online service, and refer to Xbox consoles, rather than Xbox One and Xbox 360 consoles. We’ve updated ‘Xbox Services’ to include the Xbox online service, Xbox Game Studios games (including Mojang Games), applications, subscriptions, services and content provided by Microsoft. We’ve clarified what Microsoft can do if you sign in to your Xbox Services account to access a non-Microsoft Service (for example, a non-Microsoft game publisher of Third-Party Apps and Services). We’ve also clarified that you must be at least 13 years old to use the Mixer Service and, if you are under the age of majority where you live, you represent that your use is supervised by a parent or legal guardian.”
On the one hand, the rebranding of the name may imply that big changes will be coming to Microsoft’s online services on Xbox- such as dropping Xbox Live Gold or Xbox Live entirely. Then again, this change could be far more mundane, and (as stated above) placing multiple online services under the same name in the terms of service.
What do you think Xbox’ online future will be? Sound off in the comments below!