After a widespread outcry on Friday, January 22, Microsoft did a 180 and decided to nix its plans to raise the price of Xbox Live Gold subscriptions, which is a requirement for online gaming.
“We messed up today and you were right to let us know,” said the company in its amended statement.
The panned changes would have doubled the price of an annual Xbox Live Gold membership, a 6-month membership would have cost gamers $59.99.
“Going forward, new pricing will be 1-month for $10.99, 3-months for $29.99, and 6-months for $59.99, or your local market equivalent,” said the original statement.
Later that same day, Microsoft announced that pricing for memberships would remain the same – $9.99 for 1-month, $24.99 for 3-months, $39.99 for 6-months and $59.99 for retail 12-months, in the United States.
Microsoft also announced that it is working on an update that would allow free-to-play games to be played without an Xbox Live Gold membership.
At present, some of the world’s most popular and competitive online games – such as Call of Duty Warzone, Fortnite and Apex Legends – can be played free of charge but they require an active Xbox Live Gold membership to be played on the console. Microsoft said it would try to change this as soon as possible in the coming months.
Xbox gamers’ frustration was compounded by the fact that Sony’s Playstation Plus subscription would have remained $60 per year.
Gamers speculated that Microsoft’s move was an attempt to force gamers to switch to its Game Pass subscription – which is a more expensive membership that gives users access to games and other benefits. If the price increase went ahead, the price difference between the two would have been negligible.
Microsoft said their initial decision to raise prices was motivated by the fact that the price of an Xbox Live Gold membership has not changed for more than 10 years.
An Xbox Live Gold membership in South Africa will cost you R99 per month, while a 3-month subscription will set you back R249.
There are no annual or half-annual subscriptions listed on Microsoft’s South African website.
A Game Pass Ultimate subscription costs R149 per month.