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Microsoft gives Xbox Live Gold a price hike to make Game Pass more tempting

The new pricing seems designed to push people toward Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.

Eli Blumenthal Senior Editor
Eli Blumenthal is a senior editor at CNET with a particular focus on covering the latest in the ever-changing worlds of telecom, streaming and sports. He previously worked as a technology reporter at USA Today.
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Eli Blumenthal
2 min read

Xbox Live is getting more expensive. 

Josh Goldman/CNET

Update: Later Friday, Microsoft canceled its pricing changes. You can read about that here.

Microsoft is updating its Xbox Live pricing and dropping the one-year subscription option as it reshuffles its online offerings. The move, announced in a blog post on Friday, will also see the software giant raise the price of a one-month subscription by one dollar and a three-month subscription by $5, or the local equivalent amount. 

Here's the updated US pricing for new subscriptions: 

  • One month of Xbox Live Gold: $11, an increase of $1 
  • Three months of Xbox Live Gold: $30, an increase of $5
  • Six months of Xbox Live Gold: $60, an increase of $20

The company says that there is "no price change" for those who already have a six- or 12-month Xbox Live Gold subscription, with membership renewing at the "current price." 

It should be noted that a few retailers -- including GameStop, Best Buy and Amazon -- have 12-month Xbox Live Gold subscriptions still on sale for $60. Costco has 24-month Xbox Live Gold subscription cards available for $95. 

It's unclear how quickly those supplies will sell out, but those looking to delay the price increase may want to scoop those cards up sooner rather than later -- an Xbox Live Gold subscription is needed to play most Xbox games online. 

Microsoft says that it has already begun notifying people in some of the regions where it is raising prices, with emails and a message center notification coming "over the next month" to let people know about the price increase. It adds that "prices won't adjust until at least 45 days after you receive the messages." 

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The new pricing seems to be designed to push users to upgrade to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which runs $15 per month. As Microsoft's top gaming subscription service, Game Pass Ultimate includes Xbox Live Gold, access to cloud gaming for playing games on an Android phone or tablet, as well as the ability to play over 100 games on your Xbox, phone or PC. New Xbox Game Studio titles, including the upcoming Halo Infinite, are also included with GamePass. 

At $15 per month, a year of Game Pass Ultimate would run $180 compared to the $120 you would need to spend if you got two six-month Xbox Live Gold subscriptions. 

Microsoft isn't really hiding this goal. In its post, it details that those looking to upgrade from Gold to Game Pass Ultimate will have any remaining Gold time automatically converted into Game Pass Ultimate (for up to 36 months) "at no additional cost." 

This may allow for a bit of saving if you know you'll use Xbox Live for a few years. In theory, this means you can buy up to three years' worth of cards, add them to your Xbox account and then convert them to Game Pass to save $180 compared to the new Xbox Live rates, or $360 if you can score three 12-month Xbox Live subscriptions for $60 each. 

CNET has reached out to Microsoft for additional details and will update when it responds.