Update: As you've very likely seen by now, Microsoft has decided to reverse the decision to increase the pricing for Xbox Live Gold, as well as announce that free-to-play games will no longer require Gold in the future.
That decision now makes the following reaction outdated for obvious reasons, but we're going to keep it live on the site so you can look over it retroactively and continue to comment if you'd like to.
Original story: Following today's announcement that Xbox Live Gold would be increasing in price for new subscriptions going forward, it's never felt more beneficial to be a member of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. Each membership option for new members will be rising, bringing the monthly and yearly price closer to that of Xbox's near-essential GPU service - which includes Xbox Live Gold as part of the subscription fee.
They're not just small increments either, with a yearly subscription being bumped by 33% for new subscribers. While at the time of writing the official worldwide conversions haven't been shared across the board, Xbox players in the US will see a jump from $39.99 to $59.99 for a six month Gold subscription. It's a big increase, no doubt.
Xbox Live Gold admittedly feels behind the times with its competitors as a result, especially when PlayStation Plus now offers the same services for a cheaper price. Xbox Live Gold has also followed in PlayStation Plus's footsteps by offering a selection of free games across multiple generations, however as Xbox Game Pass has risen in value and dominance, the program has been dishing out fewer AAA titles - at least prior to the first couple of months of 2021, which have begun offering up some impressive additions once more.
It also raises the question on what happens to free-to-play titles that still require a Gold membership. Titles such as Fortnite and Rocket League can both be played for 'free', but still require Xbox Live Gold membership, which has just made the barrier of entry considerably higher for casual fans. That isn't even adding into the fact that Halo Infinite, which is due to launch this Fall, has free to play multiplayer on the way which will likely also require Xbox Live Gold.
For now, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate serves as incredible value for money when compared to standalone Xbox Live Gold, but will it increase in price going forward, too? Or will Gold be eradicated at some point and simply replaced with Game Pass? Judging by today's announcement, it appears Microsoft has no intention of removing Gold anytime soon, creating an illusion of choice which admittedly isn't much of a choice anymore - if you're an Xbox user, being subscribed to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is undoubtedly the way to go moving forward.
Ultimately, much of this feels like a strategy to make Xbox Game Pass Ultimate even more enticing (and hopefully retain its current price), but judging by the reactions so far, Microsoft has a fair bit of backlash to contend with as well. We all know Xbox Game Pass is a fantastic service and incredible value for money - with hundreds of titles in the library and numerous other perks included - and this feels like a very obvious and persuasive nudge towards it.
What do you think about Microsoft upping the price of Xbox Live Gold? Let us know in the comments below.