Microsoft has announced that it's hiking the price of Xbox Live Gold membership - by quite a bit.
The one month Xbox Live Gold membership price is going up by $1, while the price of three month's membership is increasing by $5 USD (or the equivalent amount in your local market, so around £3/AU$6 for three months or 70p/AU$1.30).
That means new pricing will be one month for $10.99 (roughly £8/AU$14), 3 months for $29.99 (£22/AU$39), and 6-months for $59.99 (£44/AU$78) – i.e. it would cost a whopping $120 for one year of Xbox Live Gold membership if you only buy three-month memberships at a time.
The good news, however, is that there is no price change for folks who already have 12 month and six-month subscriptions to Xbox Live Gold – meaning those who renew their membership can do so at the same price.
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"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 Xbox Live Gold Team wrote in a post announcing the price hike. "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."
"If you’d like to upgrade your Gold membership to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate your remaining Gold time will also convert directly to Ultimate (up to 36 months)," the post continues. "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."
According to the post, members will be notified if their region is being affected by the price hike - via email and via the Xbox message center. If you're in an affected region, your price won't be adjusted until 45 days after you've received a message telling you this is the case.
It's possible that the UK may avoid this price hike as UK Xbox Live Gold membership underwent a price hike back in 2016, which increased the cost of both one and three-month memberships. Microsoft has not yet confirmed which regions will be affected outside of the US.
Why the change?
Microsoft has been leaning more heavily into its Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription services in recent years, with the latter including Xbox Live Gold membership as part of its membership fee. The price hike of Xbox Live Gold, makes Xbox Game Pass Ultimate a more tempting offer as the game subscription service now comes in cheaper than an Xbox Live Gold subscription - and includes more for your money.
With Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, subscribers get access to hundreds of free games, cloud gaming and Xbox Live Gold membership plus more, while Xbox Live Gold grants access to free games each month and access to online play - required for games such as Fortnite.
While Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is now the better value offer, many aren't happy with the price hike, with some feeling that Microsoft is forcing them into Game Pass and others claiming the new pricing is inaccessible.
I am a little disappointed in the XBL price hike. looking at what it costs someone like me to have all of our family online access plus game pass... its 200 dollars for the whole fam for live and 357 for the whole fam for gamepass. stay consumer friendly PLEASE.January 22, 2021
Doubling the price of Xbox Live is the scummiest way to push people to Game Pass UltimateJanuary 22, 2021
Every few months, Xbox needs to do something to remind people it's not actually that in touch with gamers or reality. $120 for a year of Xbox Live Gold (to bully people onto Game Pass) is the latest example.January 22, 2021
Grab cheap Xbox Live Gold while you can
As it takes 45 days from when you're notified for your Xbox Live Gold price to go up, you may want to make use of picking up cheaper membership while you can.
Below, you will find the cheapest Xbox Live Gold membership prices right now:
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Vic is TechRadar Gaming's Associate Editor. An award-winning games journalist, Vic brings experience from IGN, Eurogamer and more to the TechRadar table. You may have even heard her on the radio or speaking on a panel. Not only is Vic passionate about games, but she's also an avid mental health advocate who has appeared on both panels and podcasts to discuss mental health awareness. Make sure to follow her on Twitter for more.