Microsoft is raising prices for Xbox Live Gold memberships in certain markets in an apparent effort to convert more users to its Xbox Game Pass Ulimate, and the gaming community is not receiving the news well.
Microsoft announced in a blog post Friday that, moving forward, new six-month Xbox Live Gold subscriptions will cost $59.99, while three-month plans will cost $29.99 and one-month plans will cost $10.99.
That means a full year of Xbox Live Gold will go for nearly $120, double the price Microsoft charged for the 12-month plans that it quietly got rid of last year.
"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," the company said.
The pricing changes won't affect existing Xbox Live Gold subscribers, however, as they'll still be able to renew their current plans at the same price. Microsoft is also letting players who upgrade to its Xbox Game Pass Ultimate — which costs $14.99 per month, or roughly $180 per year — convert any remaining time on their Xbox Live Gold memberships to Xbox Game Pass Ulimate without an additional cost.
Microsoft also said that the new prices won't kick in until 45 days after subscribers receive an email and message center notification alerting them to the increases.
The new prices dramatically close the gap between the annual costs of Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscriptions, a sign that Microsoft is likely trying to push more users to sign up for the latter.
The move drew fierce backlash from the gaming commmunity, which accused the company of being out of touch with the economic situation of many customers during the pandemic, as well as continuing to require them to pay for subscriptions even to play free-to-play games like "Fortnite" and "Call Of Duty: Warzone."
"@Xbox have done this in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, where kids will be most affected, where finances are tight and online gaming is their main (sometimes only) way to play and communicate with friends. Let that sink in," @swooper_d tweeted.
"Xbox also still remains the only platform you need a subscription to play free to play games, including Warzone," gaming news site Charlie Intel tweeted.
Others also pointed to the stark pricing differences between Xbox and other online gaming platforms.
"I'm still in shock at how there is now a $100 Difference Between getting Nintendo Switch Online for a Year and Xbox Live Gold for a Year," @JCretor tweeted.
Nintendo Switch Online memberships cost $19.99 and Playstation Plus memberships cost $59.99 for 12 months.
"We invest in our community by strengthening the digital safety of our players, enabling new ways to share, communicate and play with your friends, and delivering industry leading reliability across our network," Microsoft said as part of its rationale for raising prices, while adding: "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."