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Microsoft Starts Testing Free Multiplayer for Free-To-Play Games

Microsoft said Wednesday on the Xbox Insider Twitter account that it is currently evaluating an adjustment to Xbox Live Gold that would let users access some online multiplayer services without an active membership, such as multiplayer gaming in free-to-play games.

The business initially declared plans to implement this modification together with the cancellation of an anticipated Xbox Live pricing increase in January. This information was released two days after Microsoft announced plans to rename Xbox Live to the Xbox network.

Xbox Insiders are presently testing a new version of the Xbox network that eliminates the Gold requirement from multiplayer in free-to-play games, Looking 4 Groups, and Party Chat.

These Insiders are precisely those in both the Alpha Skip Ahead and Alpha programs.
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Microsoft said on Twitter that it is testing the removal of the Gold paywall for Insiders before making the change permanent.

With this change, gamers would be able to interact more directly with free-to-play games like Fortnite and Destiny 2, both of which presently require Xbox Live Gold to access multiplayer.

Microsoft has acknowledged the evolution of video games throughout the course of Xbox Live’s 18-year history with this change. Players can eventually play with their buddies even if they don’t have the extra $60 to spend a year.

Since removing the need for a PlayStation Plus or Nintendo Switch Online subscription, respectively, for free-to-play games like Rocket League, Sony and Nintendo have been making the change. Microsoft has always had a slightly tighter hold on Gold.

Up until 2014, the company required Xbox Live Gold for users to access entertainment apps like Netflix. This change further loosens that hold and puts the Xbox more in line with its rivals.

New Xbox features are made available to gamers through the Xbox Insiders program before they are made available to the general public. Similar to beta testing for games, but for the complete console’s user interface and experience.

As of March 24, these limitations are no longer in effect for Xbox Insiders. When Microsoft will eliminate the paywall for all players is presently unknown.

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Microsoft Competitive with Both Sony and Nintendo

This will align Microsoft with Sony and Nintendo, neither of which insists that you sign up for their premium multiplayer services in order to play online free-to-play games.

Now that that policy change is possible, the business has begun testing an upgrade to the dashboard. It also makes party chat open to non-Gold subscribers, which is an unexpected feature.

Microsoft starts testing free multiplayer for free-to-play games

As a result of the adjustment, players will be able to access party chat and the Looking for Groups features, ensuring that they do not have a subpar experience despite being in the free-to-play category.

Back in January, Microsoft had initially planned to raise the price of Xbox Live Gold subscriptions on a monthly basis by $1 (bringing the total monthly cost to $10.99) and on a yearly basis by $5 (bringing the total to $29.99 for a yearly subscription).

Xbox Live Gold gives users access to online play as well as purchase discounts and a free game per month that may be kept forever on the Xbox 360 or as long as a subscription is active on the Xbox Series X/S and Xbox One.
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It appears that the time for it has finally come. The Xbox Insider program’s Alpha testers are currently receiving these updates, so it won’t be long until it becomes available to the general public.
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Stay tuned, and we’ll let you know when Microsoft begins to push out this functionality more broadly.

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