Microsoft has removed the ability to purchase 12 month Xbox Live subscriptions, prompting speculation that it is preparing to drop the paywall for the service entirely.
Both the single and three-month tiers remain, but the 12 month option has been removed from every territory in which the yearly subscription was available.
Microsoft has not explain why the 12 month option has been removed, but confirmed to True Achievements that it was not accidental.
“At this time, Xbox has decided to remove the 12 months Xbox Live Gold SKU from the Microsoft online Store. Customers can still sign up for a one month or three month Xbox Live Gold subscription online through the Microsoft Store.”
The move coincides with the recent announcement that Microsoft’s game-streaming platform xCloud will be included in Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for no extra cost.
It’s worth noting that Xbox Game Pass Ultimate currently includes an Xbox Live Gold subscription as part of the bundle – if Microsoft is indeed dropping the paywall for Xbox Live, xCloud may have been added to the deal in its place.
Alternatively, it has also been speculated that Microsoft dropping the 12-month tier is a bid to drive users towards Game Pass Ultimate.
Some have speculated that an Xbox Live announcement will be coming on this Thursday’s Xbox Games Showcase, but Microsoft’s Aaron Greenberg has stated that the stream’s focus will be exclusively on games.
I know everyone is excited for Xbox Games Showcase next Thursday. Seen some wild expectations so if helpful this show has one focus, games. No business, devices or similar news, just games. A whole show about hour long focused on games. Hope you enjoy it! https://t.co/eIPBsJtLbJ
— Aaron Greenberg 🙅🏼♂️❎ (@aarongreenberg) July 16, 2020
If Microsoft does drop Xbox Live’s paywall, it will be for the first time in 18 years that the service will be provided for free, having been a paid service since 2002.