Microsoft is ringing in a new era in its gaming saga as it prepares to sunset Xbox Live Gold, a service that has been an integral part of the Xbox gaming experience for over two decades. In its place, Microsoft is set to launch Game Pass Core on September 14, promising a unique transformation in the Xbox gaming landscape.
Launched on November 15, 2002, Xbox Live Gold has been a pivotal service across several generations of Xbox consoles. However, its glory days, particularly marked by the online multiplayer portion of Halo 2, will now make way for an innovative platform that extends the gaming experience beyond multiplayer online console gaming.
Game Pass Core is set to be a game-changer in the realm of online gaming subscriptions, offering access to over 25 games for play on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One at a monthly cost of $9.99, or an annual subscription of $59.99. This move comes in the wake of dwindling interest in the Games with Gold promotion, which has been criticized for its lackluster free titles.
On launch day, existing Xbox Live Gold members will be automatically migrated to Game Pass Core. This also marks the end of the Games with Gold service starting from September 1. The inaugural list of Core games includes fan favorites like Doom Eternal, Halo 5: Guardians, and The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited, among others. Microsoft promises to add new games to this list a few times a year.
Addressing questions about previous game entitlements, Microsoft assured that players can still access their redeemed Xbox One games through Games with Gold, provided they remain Game Pass Ultimate or Game Pass Core members. Xbox 360 titles redeemed via Games with Gold will stay in a player’s library regardless of their subscription status.
In the words of Jerret West, CVP, Gaming Marketing at Microsoft, the transformation to Game Pass Core is an opportunity to reimagine gaming subscription content, leveraging select titles from the Xbox Game Pass catalog.
Now, Game Pass will be divided into four offerings: Core ($9.99/month), Console ($10.99/month), PC ($9.99/month), and Ultimate ($16.99/month). The Console Game Pass will continue to exclude access to online console multiplayer.
Despite a slight increase in the pricing of Game Pass services, Microsoft remains committed to providing a rich gaming experience, even as the company faces criticism over the profitability of the Game Pass model. As the tech giant gears up to finalize its acquisition of Call of Duty maker Activision Blizzard, the advent of Game Pass Core signals a significant moment in the future of online gaming.