Microsoft Breaks The Silence On Free Xbox Live Gold Rumors

Image via Epic Games

Despite what the copious number of rumors over the last few weeks or so have suggested, Xbox Live Gold isn’t going anywhere. Not for the foreseeable future, at least.

For those not up to speed on the situation, suspicions that Microsoft was working towards phasing out the premium service kicked off last month when it was discovered that the option to purchase a 12-month membership had been removed from the list of subscription options. The plot thickened further earlier this week when it was reported that recent changes to the Xbox Services Agreement had removed any references to Xbox Live, replacing them instead, with Xbox Online Service.

Considering the timing, many were naturally led to reach the conclusion that Microsoft would be ditching the model in favor of adopting Game Pass as its primary monetization model. While such a move would certainly make sense, it now appears as if said conjecture was wildly misplaced.

In a statement provided to Windows Central this morning, the software giant said:

The update to ‘Xbox online service’ in the Microsoft Services Agreement refers to the underlying Xbox service that includes features like cross-saves and friend requests. This language update is intended to distinguish that underlying service, and the paid Xbox Live Gold subscription. There are no changes being made to the experience of the service or Xbox Live Gold.

Simply the result of some innocent attempts at clarification, then, but it’s worth noting that nowhere do the comments explicitly state that Xbox Live Gold’s future is secured. Perhaps that’s intended to be implicit, but there’s still a chance, however slim, that big changes are on the horizon. After all, one of the bonuses intended to entice Xbox owners into signing up, Games With Gold, has certainly lost its lustre in recent months thanks, in part, to Game Pass, so wouldn’t be surprising if Microsoft does eventually retire the Gold brand altogether down the line.

Whatever shape the endgame takes, fans can expect things to become clearer as we approach the launch window for Xbox Series X which, with any luck, we may finally get a solid date for later this month. Watch this space.