Microsoft has announced that Xbox Live Gold, its subscription service which has been running for over 20 years, is being discontinued. In its place, Xbox Game Pass Core, a new, cheaper tier of the existing Game Pass subscription, will be introduced with similar features.
Xbox Live Gold is leveling up 📈
— Xbox (@Xbox) July 17, 2023
Xbox Live Gold was originally introduced back during the days of the original Xbox and evolved during the lifespan of the Xbox 360, offering online play, cross-game voice chat and messaging. Starting in 2013, Games with Gold was added, providing subscribers with a regular drip-feed of free games, and forming the basis of the modern Xbox Game Pass subscription. In September of this year, those services will essentially be merged in a similar way to Sony’s three tiers of PlayStation Plus subscriptions. The Core subscription will provide online play, exclusive member deals and over 25 free games to play. 2-3 new games are set to be added to this service per year.
For existing Xbox Live Gold subscribers, they will automatically become Game Pass Core members, with no change in pricing. As long as they remain an Xbox Game Pass Core or Ultimate subscriber, any Xbox One games they previously redeemed through Games with Gold will remain playable. Regardless of if you are subscribed or not, Xbox 360 games redeemed as part of Games With Gold will remain in your account.
From a branding perspective, merging the services and giving them a consistent naming scheme is probably a good idea. Xbox Live Gold was a good name, but with Game Pass being Xbox’s new signature service, bringing Xbox Live Gold under that umbrella makes sense.
In terms of pricing, the Core membership is going at $9.99 USD per month. For comparison, this is the same as PC Game Pass or a dollar less per month than the basic Xbox Console Game Pass membership which doesn’t include online multiplayer. Considering the Core membership only offers around 25 games, whereas Xbox Console Game Pass offers hundreds of games, including day one releases, it’s strange that Core isn’t cheaper consider the much lower value proposition, as long as you don’t care too much about online multiplayer. Even Sony’s comparable offering, PlayStation Plus Essentials, provides a few new games per month, rather than per year.
At any rate, Games with Gold will be coming to an end on the 1st of September 2023. Xbox Game Pass Core will be formally added on the 14th of September, with existing Xbox Live Gold subscribers being automatically shifted over to the service.