Call of Duty: Warzone is free on PC and PS4 – but not Xbox One

(Image credit: Activision)

Call of Duty: Warzone is launching on March 10, but it seems that the free-to-play game isn't quite as free as we first thought, with a paywall on Xbox One that means you'll require an Xbox Live Gold subscription in order to play the game online.

It's a rather different situation on PC and PS4, where Warzone will be – as expected – free to download and play.

It's a curious move from Microsoft, given the impetus it gives players to access the game on other platforms – and it flies in the face of the usual narrative around Sony's lack of cooperation when it comes to cross-platform, free-to-play games like Warzone, Fortnite, or Apex Legends.

It took Sony a really long time to enable cross-play for Fortnite on PS4, largely because of the company's desire to keep players in its own platform – with former boss of Sony Entertainment Online Joe Smedley admitting this was more to do with financial profit than technical difficulty.

What do Xbox players have to pay?

An Xbox Live Gold subscription will set you back around £34-£38 in the UK$46-$50 in the US, or $60-$65 in Australia for 12 months of use. 

While it does give you access to online capability for a host of other Xbox One games, it does leave a sour taste when gamers on PC and PS4 aren't having to put up with a paywall.

Will this stunt the growth of Warzone? Probably not – and we should be glad that the game is, at the very least, cross-platform. But Xbox One players have been given the short straw, and those without a paid subscription will likely be looking to play elsewhere, either on PC or with a different Call of Duty fix altogether, such as COD: Mobile.

Henry St Leger

Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former News & Features Editor for TechRadar, where he specialized in home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, projectors, soundbars, and smart speakers. Other bylines include Edge, T3, iMore, GamesRadar, NBC News, Healthline, and The Times.