It was quite a busy weekend for the Xbox team. On Friday news started to emerge that their Xbox Live Gold service would be getting a price increase. An increase of any sort would’ve probably seen some negative reactions. However, it was the size of the increase that landed up causing a massive stir; The cost doubled from $59.99 for 12 months to $59.99 for just 6 months. Immediately, social media went wild. Most people not only commented on how sudden and drastic the hike was, but also complained that the free-to-play online games (at least on other platforms) were only playable if you signed up for Xbox Live Gold.
You’ve got to hand it to Microsoft though – they heard and reacted to the backlash. Later that same day, all their official channels had the team admitting that they had made a mistake, before announcing that the cost of Xbox Live Gold would be returning to its original price point. Microsoft also announced that all free-to-play games would soon no longer need the required membership. You can read the original press release and the apologetic update here. Xbox had really been on a roll. They definitely didn’t need this negative bit of press. But I’ve got to say their quick reaction really impressed me. Of course, that raises the question why did Microsoft decide on the huge increase in the first place? Surely they knew fans would not be happy, right?
Is it all about Game Pass?
Well, several analysts like Daniel Ahmad think this has to do with Microsoft’s goal of moving as many customers as possible onto their ‘ecosystem’ using (among others) Game Pass Ultimate as a main ‘entry point’. By raising the cost Xbox Live Gold – the idea would then be that most customers would even more clearly see the benefit of switching over. In fact, over the weekend Ahmad posted an awesome thread explaining this opinion. It really is worth a read – you can find it here. I think it makes a lot of sense and if true – it will be really interesting how Microsoft will try to juggle Gold and Game Pass Ultimate in the near future.