Update January 23rd: Microsoft has completely backtracked on the entire price hike described below. It will not increase the price, and will instead make multiplayer free for free-to-play games. Read more here.
Original story continues:
Microsoft is increasing the prices of its Xbox Live Gold subscription soon. The software giant has started notifying existing Xbox Live Gold members of the changes in certain markets, and it will see the price rise by a dollar to $10.99 per month in the US and $5 for a three-month membership.
Twelve-month and six-month pricing is also going up, but the increase won’t affect existing subscribers here. Three months will now be priced at $29.99, with six months at $59.99. Microsoft is also allowing Xbox Live Gold members to convert their remaining Gold time into Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (up to 36 months). The conversion means if you have 11 months of Xbox Live Gold left on your account, you can upgrade to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and convert it into 11 months of Ultimate with no extra costs.
Unless you subscribe to Xbox Live Gold, this does mean the price of the service is moving from $60 a year to $120. Microsoft quietly removed its 12-month option last year, which used to be priced at $60. Sony still offers 12 months of PlayStation Plus for $60, and it’s not clear what Microsoft will offer to justify the sudden price jump. Either way, it looks like the move is designed to push Xbox Live subscribers towards Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which offers Xbox Live Gold access, xCloud streaming, and access to more than 100 games.
Many had been hoping, and expecting, Microsoft to scrap its Xbox Live charges altogether, or at least allow free-to-play games to access multiplayer features on Xbox consoles free of charge. That’s clearly not the case now, and for many this marks the first Xbox Live Gold price increase in years. “In many markets, the price of Xbox Live Gold has not changed for years and in some markets, it hasn’t changed for over 10 years,” says the Xbox Live Gold team.
The changes won’t take effect until at least 45 days after Xbox Live subscribers receive a message from Microsoft notifying them of the price increases. Some regions have already started receiving notifications, but most haven’t. “If you’re in a region where prices are being adjusted, you will receive an email and a message center notification over the next month letting you know what the new pricing is for your membership,” says Microsoft.
Update, January 22nd 10AM ET: Updated with more pricing information.