Microsoft has finally changed one of its most outrageous rules with its Xbox gaming consoles.
You no longer have to buy an annual Xbox Live Gold subscription, at $US60 a year, to use your Xbox for entertainment apps like Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO GO, etc.
This applies to Xbox One and Xbox 360 users.
Forcing people to pay for an upgraded subscription just to use ordinary entertainment services was a universally despised rule and something Sony doesn’t do with its PlayStation consoles.
Windows blogger, Paul Thurrott at Supersite for Windows, called the paywall: “one of the most egregious price gouging experiences in personal technology … I couldn’t be happier that this has finally happened. That said, what took so freaking long?”
Sam Machkovech at Ars Technica broke the news on Monday, but on Tuesday Microsoft officially confirmed it, announcing that Microsoft will be lifting the paywall in June.
Instead, Microsoft will add goodies to the Gold membership to make it something that people want to buy.
Gold members will get discounts of 50%-70% off certain titles each month. In June, Microsoft will offer “Forza Motorsport 5,” and “Ryse: Son of Rome,” and other surprises to Live subscribers, writes Phil Spencer, head of Xbox on Microsoft’s official Xbox blog, where the news was announced.
It also promises something called a “virtual VIP room” for Xbox One owners with a Live Gold subscription where they will get extra free games and deals, Spencer says.
Microsoft needed to change tactics because Sony’s PlayStation 4 has been killing Xbox One in sales. In April, Sony said it sold 7 million units. Microsoft said it had sold 5 million Xbox One consoles.
The higher price for Xbox One was part of the reason, so Microsoft also announced it will be selling a version of the console without the Kinect motion sensor for $US100 off, or $US399.99. That’s the same price as the PlayStation 4.