Xbox Live Gold will soon no longer be required to use party chat.
Microsoft will drop the subscription requirement at the same time as it also removes the need for Xbox Live Gold to play online free-to-play games such as Fortnite and Rocket League.
We knew about that latter part already, after a dramatic U-turn from Microsoft over a Xbox Live Gold price hike. That discussion prompted fierce criticism over the fact Microsoft continued to place games like Fortnite behind a paywall, in contrast to the situation on PlayStation and Nintendo platforms - something it then announced it would drop.
Now, Xbox has confirmed its upcoming changes will go further than expected.
Writing on Twitter last night, Microsoft's Brad Rossetti revealed that certain Xbox preview programme members would no longer need Xbox Live Gold for "multiplayer in Free-to-play games, Looking 4 Groups and Party Chat".
These changes are currently being tested ahead of a full public rollout in the near future.
Xbox Insiders in Alpha Skip Ahead & Alpha today we are flighting some new features. Multiplayer in Free-to-play games, Looking 4 Groups and Party Chat on Xbox no longer requires an Xbox Live Gold membership as we flight and test these service changes ahead of general availability— Brad Rossetti (@WorkWombatman) March 24, 2021
While it didn't receive the uproar that paying to play free-to-play games online did, the fact Xbox players were still paying for party chat in the age of Discord and cross-platform play with PC also seems very outdated.
And speaking of Discord? Well, these changes would certainly bring Xbox more in line for any kind of future integration with the service - should those $10bn acquisition talks end up going anywhere.