The end seems close to Xbox Live Gold, the industry standard paid subscription service that motivated both Sony and Nintendo to offer their paid offerings in the years following their debut.
It could be the end of an era, but the alternative could end up making Microsoft even more money.
There are muttering currently that Microsoft will completely eliminate the concept of Xbox Live Gold, the subscription service that usually retails for around $ 60 a year, giving players the simple option of accessing online multiplayer access for Xbox games.
This has been “accepted” by the players at this point, but it has always been a bit strange, considering that you are already paying your Internet company’s money to access the Internet, so you are paying Xbox to access the online game through that Internet, while also paying for the games themselves, where as you don’t have to do both to say, PC or mobile games.
While Microsoft would hate giving up $ 60 a year, normally, by consumers, the reason they’ll probably do it is because the alternative will make them earn even more.
The answer is obviously Game Pass.
Game Pass is Microsoft’s $ 10 per month subscription service that offers players access to a range of Xbox games ready to play, including all new Microsoft versions on Xbox consoles and PCs.
On top of that, Microsoft eventually created Game Pass Ultimate, which enriched Game Pass and Xbox Live Gold with a $ 15 per month subscription. Recently they have also has added its streaming service, Xcloud, in addition to that, which allows you to stream games without hardware similar to Google Stadia. All this bundled in $ 15.
This is why Xbox Live Gold is actually dead. This week, Microsoft confirmed that Halo Infinite would have had a free-to-play multiplayer, yet it isn’t really free if you still have to pay for gold.
So, here’s what is extremely likely to happen:
“Free” games like Halo MP and Fortnite and the like will be really free on Xbox hardware without any type of subscription, just an Internet connection.
Xbox Live Gold will completely disappear, yet Game Pass will become the new standard instead.
So instead of getting $ 60 a year from most players, Microsoft will get $ 120 a year from 12 months, $ 10 Game Pass subscriptions or $ 180 a year from 12 months, $ 15 Game Pass Ultimate subscriptions they’ll get. however the advantage of included Xcloud. Maybe cut it down to $ 100 and $ 150 respectively with some kind of deal or package, and here it is yet they are doing much, much more than when the $ 60 a year XBL Gold subscriptions were the standard.
You also have the advantage of offering something of real value. XBL Gold was an arbitrary paywall for something everyone should already have access to in the first place. Game Pass and Ultimate are Netflix-like game libraries that you can play on your current hardware or anywhere, via Xcloud. This is a real product that is worth paying for, and at the very least, Game Pass seems like a default purchase for anyone with an Xbox, as two $ 60 game purchases per year will essentially pay for it.
Sony doesn’t have anything like this, and as far as we know, players will still pay $ 60 a year for PS Plus, which is needed for online play, but offers a couple of free games per month. PS Now has a much, much lower adoption rate than Xbox Game Pass, as you won’t find new exclusive Sony versions, and Sony doesn’t have a streaming service like Xcloud that will be coming soon. They have the advantage of … huge console sales and a huge library of exclusive insta-buys, but Microsoft is looking to play the long game here.
And I think it could work really good for them in the end.
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