For years, Microsoft has forced Xbox users to purchase a subscription to its Xbox Live Gold service if they wanted to play with their friends and family online. This week Microsoft confirmed it has no plans to require games with Xbox Live integration on smartphones, desktops, notebooks and tablets to pay for Xbox Live and it’s making some longtime users very uncomfortable.
Microsoft’s Larry Hyrb confirmed that Xbox Live leaderboards and multiplayer wouldn’t require an Xbox Live Gold subscription for devices running Windows 10. Windows 10 is the operating system that’ll directly integrate Xbox Live. Gamers in some Xbox Live titles will allow for cross-platform play. The company even plans to open up parts of Xbox Live to smaller developers to level the playing field. The entire thing is a pretty aggressive move by Microsoft to turn every Windows PC into an Xbox console. Gigantic and Fable Legends have already been confirmed for Xbox One and Windows 10.
Hyrb notes on Twitter that “Xbox Live Gold will not be required for online multiplayer gaming” on Windows 10 PCs and Windows Phones. It’s a smart move for Microsoft, which is already going to have a hard time convincing PC gamers that they’re serious about bringing the Xbox experience to PCs. The company has made a string of bad decisions in the space including two barely alive versions of Games for Windows Live.
@haydencd Not charging. Xbox Live Gold will not be required for online multiplayer gaming using our service on Windows 10 PCs and Phones
— Larry Hryb @PAX West (@majornelson) March 5, 2015
What we have is the raw ingredients for an Xbox Live civil war. On one side are users who have an Xbox One and have paid for Xbox Live to play games with their friends since the original Xbox. On the other, a new generation of Xbox gamers, who don’t have to pay anything and still get a premium experience. Already, replies to Hyrb’s message include Xbox owners who aren’t too happy about paying for use of the service when others don’t have to.
Xbox Live costs $9.99 a month or $60 a year. Besides online multiplayer and leaderboards, subscribers get two free game downloads a month for as long as they hang on to the service.
Some are speculating that Microsoft doesn’t plan to offer AAA titles, hence the decision to not charge. How accurate that is remains a mystery though. All signs point to Xbox Live on Windows users getting a pretty decent line up of games.
The company says it’ll release a wireless device that allows the Xbox One controller to communicate directly with PCs without a USB cable. Xbox on Windows even includes Game DVR functionality, so gamers can record video clips from within their games and upload them directly to Xbox Live. Both of those sound like moves you make for at least a slightly hard-core audience.
For sure, Microsoft will have more to say about Xbox Live on Windows 10 games at its BUILD 2015 event for Windows 10 in April. Windows 10 will also come to the Xbox One, but we haven’t gotten a look at what it will look like or what features it’ll have.
Windows 10 for PCs and tablets will include a ton of features users have requested. One store will connect the different devices running on Windows 10. That means that apps purchased on one will work on the other. The Start Screen is set to make its return too. Joining it will be a refreshed interface that’ll let Windows Store apps and Desktop programs run side by side. Microsoft has already shown off integration with its Cortana personal assistant from Windows Phone.
Windows 10 will be free for Windows 8 and Windows 7 users to download for the first year. After that, it’s unclear how much Microsoft will charge for the update. Windows Phone 8.1 devices will also get Windows 10 as a free upgrade.