Changes to Xbox Live Gold: subscription no longer required for free-to-play multiplayer games
Microsoft have removed the requirement for Xbox Live Gold subscription when playing free-to-play multiplayer games.
That means games like Fortnite, Destiny 2, Apex Legends and Call of Duty: Warzone can now be played completely for free, without any subscription.
Previously, an Xbox Live Gold subscription was required to play any multiplayer games online, be they paid or free-to-play.
The change has been tested for the past few weeks but now applies to all Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S owners. Owners of the old Xbox 360 will still require the subscription to play online.
In addition, Microsoft are unlocking the Xbox party chat function and Looking For Groups (LFG) feature, to allow for a full online multiplayer experience without paying.
Over 50 free-to-play games will now be fully accessible without Xbox Live Gold.
So where does this leave Xbox Live Gold?
For £6.99 a month Xbox Live Gold members still receive free monthly games, though the subscription is required to play these. This includes backwards compatible Xbox 360 titles.
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Subscribers will also receive exclusive discounts with Deals with Gold, covering games and downloadable content.
Plus, of course, the subscription is required for online multiplayer on non-free-to-play games.
Perhaps, though, this new change is the start of a phasing out of the service. The Xbox Live branding is gradually being dropped in favour of the Xbox Network and the focus from Microsoft appears to be on the substantial benefits and value for money of its Game Pass Ultimate service, which now includes cloud gaming on iOS devices and Windows 10.
Recently, Microsoft was forced to turn around a price hike when they upped the cost of Xbox Live Gold to double the original cost.
Fans were quick to complain before Microsoft reversed the decision and dropped the price.
For a full list of free-to-play multiplayer games, visit the Xbox Wire blog.