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Microsoft announces Xbox Live Gold price hike

UPDATE: Microsoft reverses decision.

UPDATE 23 JAN 2021: Microsoft has issued a shock U-turn on its Xbox Live Gold price hike following a backlash, and has announced it will make free-to-play games free to play on Xbox.

UPDATE 22 JAN 2021: A Microsoft representative has confirmed to Eurogamer the UK Xbox Live Gold price hike:

One month goes up from £6.99 to £7.99.

Three months goes up from £17.99 to £21.99.

And six months goes up from £29.99 to £42.99.

This means 12 months of Xbox Live Gold now costs £86. You can currently get 12 months for £49.99.

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ORIGINAL STORY 22 JAN 2021: Microsoft has announced a price hike for Xbox Live Gold.

The price of a one-month Gold membership is increasing by $1, and the price of a three-month membership is increasing by $5 "or the equivalent amount in your local market". Microsoft has yet to publish the changes in pounds. We've asked for clarification.

This means the new pricing will be one month for $10.99, three months for $29.99, and six months for $59.99. That means a year of Xbox Live Gold in the US is now $120.

Messages warning of the price hike are being sent out to subscribers now, and Microsoft promised it won't adjust the pricing until at least 45 days after you receive these messages.

If you're an existing 12-month or six-month Xbox Live Gold member, there is no change, and if you renew your membership, it will renew at the current price.

"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," Microsoft said.

"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."

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Xbox Live Gold subscriptions last got a price hike in the UK back in May 2019, when a 12-month subscription was raised from £39.99 to £49.99, while monthly subscriptions increased from £5.99 to £6.99. Three-month subscriptions also got a price hike, from £14.99 to £17.99, but a six-month membership stayed the same at £29.99.

At the time, Microsoft said it made the change "to ensure gamers have consistent pricing for Xbox Live Gold across Europe" following changes made in the region in 2016.

Perhaps mindful of questions over the value of an Xbox Live Gold subscription, which is required to play Xbox console games online, Microsoft announced a strong lineup of free games due to be released in February.

February's titles include Gears 5, Resident Evil, and Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb (the latter two of which are well-timed, given recent eye-catching announcements).

Here's the list:

  • Gears 5: 1-28 Feb
  • Resident Evil: 1-28 Feb
  • Dandara: Trials of Fear Edition 16 Feb to 15 Mar
  • Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb: 1-15 Feb
  • Lost Planet 2: 16-28 Feb

Already users are seeing this Xbox Live Gold price hike as an attempt by Microsoft to push subscribers towards Xbox Game Pass. To that end, Microsoft said you if you upgrade your Gold membership to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, your remaining Gold time will also convert directly to Ultimate (up to 36 months). For example, if you have 11 months of Xbox Live Gold now, and you upgrade to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, those 11 months convert to 11 months of Ultimate at no additional cost.

It also means that if you load up your Xbox Live Gold at the current prices (pre-price hike), you can get three years of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for the same price.