Microsoft could make Xbox Live FREE to boost Xbox Series X sales after Halo Infinite includes free multiplayer

Could Xbox be about to make its next pro-consumer move?

by Oliver Barsby
xboxlive

The Xbox Series X’s flagship title, Halo Infinite, will include free-to-play multiplayer, according to leaked information from the Irish Smyths website.

This would be a huge pro-consumer move by Xbox, who has already committed to a series of pro-consumer practices including backwards and forwards compatibility.

However, this leak may be a signal of an even greater announcement to come. Is Xbox finally making Xbox Live Gold free?

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Will Xbox make Xbox Live free?

According to trusted Xbox insider Klobrille, “The question is not if the online multiplayer paywall falls. The question is when.”

This lines up with revelations that Microsoft has now removed 12-month Xbox Live subscriptions from the Microsoft Store. One-month and three-month subscriptions still remain on the storefront.

With a leak coming from Smyths suggesting Halo Infinite’s multiplayer will be free-to-play, putting all the available information together strongly suggests Xbox Live may become free in the coming months.

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Why could Xbox Live become free?

This latest Halo Infinite development makes sense when you consider Xbox’s primary selling point for the next-gen of gaming. No, it’s not the Series X. It’s Xbox Game Pass.

After the latest Xbox Games Showcase revealed that all first-party Xbox exclusives would come to the Game Pass upon release, it became abundantly clear that Xbox sees its future revenue stream primarily coming through its subscription service. It truly wants to become the ‘Netflix of Gaming’.

With Xbox Game Pass Ultimate being the best way to play Game Pass games, cutting the price of Xbox Live Gold would potentially increase the appeal of Game Pass Ultimate.

XboxGamePassUltimate
There’s no denying Game Pass is an x-cellent deal for gamers.

Xbox Live Gold has certainly reduced in its appeal since its heyday on the Xbox 360. Games with Gold has decreased in its quality compared to PS Plus games. With Xbox now committed to the PC market, which has never had to pay for online multiplayer through Steam, Xbox Live is fast becoming an outdated concept for the gaming company.

If Game Pass Ultimate became the sole, centralised Xbox subscription service, this would become the focus of Xbox’s marketing, enticing both Xbox and PC users alike to sign up for what is an incredibly generous subscription charge, especially with xCloud streaming coming in September.

However, this shift away from Xbox Live Gold won’t just benefit Game Pass sales.

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Selling the Xbox Series X

The Xbox Series X is still important to the company. As its flagship console, the Series X still needs to be commercially successful and appealing to consumers. In two or three year’s time, when the Xbox One can no longer process next-gen games, the Series X or Series S will be crucial to ensuring console gamers continue to buy Xbox consoles rather than jumping over to the PS5.

In the current state of gaming, the PS5 appeals to gamers more, with statistics suggesting 84% of UK gamers prefer Sony’s console over the Xbox. The sustained release of quality PlayStation exclusive after exclusive has damaged Xbox’s reputation, and it shows. So how does the Xbox compete?

They make their platform more affordable.

Would you buy the Series X for the same price as a PS5?

Rumours already suggest that Xbox plans to wait until PlayStation reveal the price of their console, so they can undercut their competitor to increase the appeal of their product.

As PlayStation has given no indication of making its PS Plus service free, removing the industry-standard £50+ yearly subscription fee will be yet another way Xbox can sell its console as the more affordable gaming experience, similar to how the PlayStation 3 was marketed against the Xbox 360 with its free multiplayer.

The removal of these paywalls for multiplayer can only benefit the games industry. With more games becoming cross-platform, making multiplayer free is the next step to destroying the ‘Walled Garden’ of online gaming.

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Oliver Barsby