Microsoft has been making some adjustments to their online services recently, with the base, free version of Xbox Live being rebranded Xbox Network, and it seems that won’t be the end of the changes. Today head of the Xbox Preview Program Brad Rossetti announced they’re testing no longer requiring Xbox Live Gold for features like Party Chat, Looking for Group, and playing free-to-play titles. Currently, this is only available to Xbox Insiders in the Alpha Skip Ahead and Alpha rings.
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
New Features and Experiences
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.
Thanks to the hard work of Xbox engineers, we are happy to announce the following fixes have been implemented for this build:
- Fixed an issue where users could not enable HDR on the console.
- Various updates to properly reflect local languages across the console
For some time now, rumors have circulated that Microsoft is planning to slowly phase out, or at least deemphasize, Xbox Live Gold as they focus more effort and attention on Xbox Game Pass. Whether online multiplayer ever goes entirely free remains to be seen, but Microsoft is already pushing Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (which includes Game Pass and XBL Gold) as their main subscription and I wouldn’t be surprised to see more features traditionally restricted to Gold slowly transition to being free.
You can learn more about signing up for the Xbox Insider program so you can test out new features like this, right here.