While Microsoft has done a number of things the past couple of years to gain favor in the gaming community, the decision to double the price of Xbox Live Gold is both surprising and frustrating.
One of the biggest criticisms in paying to play with others online is how much does it actually cost. We’re not going to speculate how much, though it seems unlikely it’s so high Microsoft suddenly realized they needed to increase it from $60 to $120 because they’re losing money, resulting in some rather sad realizations.
Microsoft’s official statement on the change is as follows.
Periodically, we assess the value and pricing of our services to reflect changes in regional marketplaces and to continue to invest in the Xbox community; we’ll be making price adjustments for Xbox Live Gold in select markets. 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.Microsoft
What stands out about the change isn’t the price, as much as the intent. One statement that stands out is Microsoft is, at least currently, going to honor current 12-month or 6-month subscriptions that automatically renew at the previous rate. The intent clearly being to force people with active memberships who might’ve let it lapse to stick with it for fear of a massive increase. The other more troubling one is that this is part of a much larger push for people to simply purchase Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.
As of yesterday, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate was, all things considered, a good deal. For $180 a year, you got access to over 100 games for free, every Microsoft exclusive, EA Play. If you currently subscribed to Xbox Live Gold, the difference was just $120, making it a moderate choice as to whether or not it was worth it. Where things get interesting is how this change impacts the value of both services.
At this current time, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate did not increase in price, a choice that strongly suggests the intent is less about the cost of Gold and more a desire to make the aforementioned choice between the two easier. With a $120 difference I could see a case for both sides, but now that it’s down to $60, meaning anyone who has Gold and would’ve paid MSRP for one game offered by Ultimate, such as the upcoming Halo Infinite, would be paying the same price.
A number of fans arrived to a similar conclusion, though some think it’s there to supplement the cost of Game Pass. It isn’t uncommon for companies to charge more for one thing and less for another thing because it evens out in the end. A few users have posted more optimistic opinions, citing inflation or increased users causing additional demand, but the increase far exceeds what those costs should be.
Regardless of the actual reason, be it legitimately unsustainable at that cost or something else, it comes at a rather interesting time. Right now I would say demand for PlayStation 5 is higher and this choice works in Sony’s favor, provided they don’t match the price. Naturally, this means we might have another generation dominated by Sony and it would be unfortunate to see competition go away over something like this. But, like everything else, only time will tell.