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Microsoft is set to introduce a new subscription service, Xbox Game Pass Core, which will replace the longstanding Xbox Live Gold. This move comes as part of Microsoft’s ongoing efforts to enhance its gaming offerings and cater to the evolving needs of its user base. With Xbox Game Pass Core, subscribers will continue to enjoy the benefits of online multiplayer support, exclusive deals, and discounts, alongside gaining access to a curated catalog of over 25 games. Notable titles such as Gears 5, Forza Horizon 4, and Psychonauts 2 will be part of the initial lineup.
Existing Xbox Live Gold members need not worry about the transition, as they will be automatically transferred to Xbox Game Pass Core on September 14th, with the subscription price at the same rate of $9.99 per month (or $59.99 per year). However, this change comes with the discontinuation of Games with Gold, a perk that has allowed players to acquire free games every month for the past decade. While previously redeemed Xbox 360 titles will remain accessible in users’ libraries, Xbox One titles will require an ongoing subscription to Xbox Game Pass Core or Game Pass Ultimate.
Microsoft aims to provide a compelling gaming experience through the new subscription model, stating that it sought to reimagine the inclusion of content within the service. Jerret West, CVP of gaming marketing at Xbox, emphasized the selection of titles from the existing Xbox Game Pass catalog as the key to creating an engaging lineup. While the Game Pass Core catalog will be more limited compared to the full Xbox Game Pass subscription ($10.99 a month), Microsoft plans to regularly add new titles to keep the offerings fresh and exciting.
However, the introduction of Xbox Game Pass Core raises questions about the multiplayer aspect of Game Pass as a whole. While Core includes multiplayer support, the standard Xbox Game Pass subscription, which is priced higher, does not. To enjoy the benefits of Game Pass and online multiplayer, users still need to subscribe to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. This situation could potentially create confusion for players and has not been effectively addressed by Microsoft, making the rebranding and subscription structure somewhat convoluted.
The phasing out of Xbox Live Gold does not come as a surprise, as its future has been uncertain for some time. Microsoft previously rebranded Xbox Live to the Xbox network in 2021 but retained the Xbox Live Gold name for its basic subscription tier. The company also faced backlash when it attempted to double the cost of a yearly Xbox Live Gold subscription, prompting a swift reversal. Microsoft subsequently removed the paywall for free-to-play multiplayer games and unlocked Xbox party chat and Looking for Group (LFG) features for non-subscribers, allowing them to play free-to-play games without an Xbox Live Gold subscription.
The introduction of the Xbox Game Pass Core closely follows Microsoft’s recent price adjustments for its overall Xbox Game Pass offerings. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, the comprehensive subscription tier, now costs $16.99 per month, up from $14.99. The base Xbox Game Pass for Console pricing has also seen a slight increase from $9.99 to $10.99 per month. However, the pricing for PC Game Pass remains unchanged.
In addition, Microsoft has announced the discontinuation of its Xbox Game Pass Friends & Family plan, effective from August. Although the plan was available in eight countries, Microsoft clarifies that it was always a “preview program” and will no longer be available as of August 15th. It remains uncertain whether this plan will be reintroduced in the future.
Xbox Game Pass membership
- Pricing: Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for $16.99/mo. // PC Game Pass for $9.99/mo. // Xbox Game Pass for Console for $10.99/mo.
- Play new games on day one. Plus, enjoy hundreds of high-quality games with friends on a console, PC, or cloud. With games added all the time, there’s always something new to play.
- Xbox Game Pass Core (formerly Xbox Live Gold, read the announcement here) and EA Play membership are included with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.