One of Microsoft's big announcements today was the restructuring of Xbox Live Gold; the company will now allow Xbox 360 and Xbox One owners to use entertainment apps like Netflix and HBO Go without requiring a paid Xbox Live subscription. As Microsoft's Phil Spencer clarified to Joystiq today, the latest in a series of "Xbox One-80s" doesn't apply to free-to-play and subscription-based online games.
"Right now we haven't changed the policy on MMOs and free-to-play games," Spencer said. While not getting into specifics, he noted that with some games there are "engineering constraints, policy constraints and partner constraints in each one of these scenarios," so the decision to keep games behind the Xbox Live paywall reportedly doesn't rest solely in Microsoft's hands.
Bethesda's latest MMORPG, The Elder Scrolls Online, will still require a Gold subscription on top of the developer's own monthly fees. For the time being, at least; Microsoft has "about six months" to consider changing its policies, as the game was recently delayed for consoles. The developer was in talks with Microsoft back in August to cut the extra fees for The Elder Scrolls Online, which won't be enforced by Sony via PlayStation Plus for PS4.
Free-to-play games that will continue requiring Xbox Live Gold include World of Tanks, Warface and Happy Wars, the latter of which lifted single-player restrictions for free Xbox Live members in January. Likewise, online multiplayer gaming in general is still locked to paid subscribers, according to Microsoft's list of free and premium Live services.
"So today, the announcement is about the entertainment applications being available to all Xbox Live members," Spencer said. "It was really about going as fast as we could on the things that we completely controlled." Microsoft also announced today that it will begin selling the Xbox One without Kinect in June, which led to some mixed reactions from Dance Central developer Harmonix. The Xbox maker will also kick off its Deals with Gold and Games with Gold programs in June for Xbox One.