Microsoft won't increase Xbox Live Gold prices for new members

Update: Hours after announcing a price hike for Xbox Live, Microsoft reversed its decision.

Aaron Souppouris/Engadget

Microsoft continues sending not-so-subtle signals that it would really, really like you to drop Xbox Live Gold in favor of Game Pass. The company has raised prices for new Xbox Live Gold memberships across the board, with the changes becoming more noticeable the longer you’re ready to commit. The one- and three-month plans aren’t much pricier at $11 and $30 respectively (up $1 and $5), but six months now costs you $60 — well above the $40 you used to pay. And when there’s no longer a 12-month membership, you’ll be looking at $120 per year if you insist on Gold. (Update: Late Friday night / early Saturday morning, Microsoft revealed it will not raise the prices.)

Existing six- and 12-month members will renew at the current price, Microsoft said. Those who convert their Gold memberships to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate will get remaining time converted at no extra cost for up to three years. If you still have several months of Gold, you won’t face another significant outlay for a while.

The company justified the increase by noting that Gold pricing “has not changed for years” in many places, and in some cases hadn’t changed for over a decade — the Xbox 360 was still in stores back then. In theory, Microsoft is just acknowledging that costs have changed. PlayStation Plus still has a $60 option, although Sony doesn’t bundle its Now game streaming.

It’s not too difficult to see Microsoft’s grander plans, though. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is a relatively easy upsell. You’ll pay more at $15 per month, but you’ll get all of Gold’s features as well as access to a growing library of titles and cloud gaming. The tech giant not only gets more money each month, but is more likely to keep members who might otherwise let their Gold memberships lapse.

Update (12:23 AM ET): Microsoft has walked back the decision, and said that in the coming months, it will add free multiplayer access for free-to-play games like Fortnite.

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