By Tom Warren, a senior editor covering Microsoft, PC gaming, console, and tech. He founded WinRumors, a site dedicated to Microsoft news, before joining The Verge in 2012.
Microsoft is launching a new Xbox Game Pass Core subscription to replace Xbox Live Gold. This new Game Pass Core offering will include the usual Xbox online console multiplayer support, deals and discounts, and a new small catalog of more than 25 games — including Gears 5, Forza Horizon 4, and Psychonauts 2.
Existing Xbox Live Gold members will be automatically transferred across to Xbox Game Pass Core on September 14th, with the service priced at the same rate of $9.99 per month (or $59.99 per year) as Xbox Live Gold.
As part of this replacement subscription, Microsoft is discontinuing Games with Gold on September 1st, the perk that has allowed Xbox owners to grab free games monthly for a decade and add them to their content library. Any Xbox 360 titles that were redeemed in the past will be permanently kept in a library, but Xbox One titles will rely on an ongoing subscription to Xbox Game Pass Core or Game Pass Ultimate.
The more than 25 games that Microsoft is including in Game Pass Core are designed to replace Games with Gold, and Microsoft says it will add new titles two to three times a year.
“We wanted to use this opportunity to reimagine how to include content with this subscription,” says Jerret West, CVP of gaming marketing at Xbox. “We found that the answer to the most compelling catalog was to leverage select titles from our Xbox Game Pass catalog.”
This catalog of games will be a lot more limited than the full Xbox Game Pass subscription ($10.99 a month), and Microsoft is only confirming 19 of the launch list titles today:
Xbox Game Pass Core could lead to some confusion around the online multiplayer aspects of Game Pass in general, though. While Core includes multiplayer, the regular Xbox Game Pass that’s priced higher does not. You still need Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for the benefits of Game Pass and online multiplayer. Microsoft hasn’t solved the potentially confusing aspect of needing Xbox Live Gold alongside a regular Game Pass subscription, and the rebranding arguably makes it even more confusing.
Either way, the writing has been on the wall for Xbox Live Gold for a couple of years now, so it’s not surprising to see existing subscribers moved over to an Xbox Game Pass-branded subscription. Microsoft rebranded Xbox Live to Xbox network in 2021 but kept the Xbox Live Gold naming for its most basic subscription.
Microsoft then briefly tried to double the cost of a yearly Xbox Live Gold subscription, a move that didn’t go down well with Xbox fans. Microsoft quickly backtracked and offered to remove the paywall for free-to-play multiplayer games. Microsoft then went on to unlock Xbox party chat and Looking for Group (LFG) for anyone without an Xbox Live Gold subscription, alongside allowing anyone to play free-to-play games without Xbox Live Gold.
The addition of Xbox Game Pass Core comes just weeks after Microsoft bumped its overall Xbox Game Pass monthly prices. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate has moved from $14.99 per month to $16.99 (€14.99 / £12.99). The base Xbox Game Pass for Console pricing has also been increased from $9.99 a month to $10.99 (€10.99 / £8.99). Microsoft has not changed its PC Game Pass pricing, though.
Microsoft also announced plans to end its Xbox Game Pass Friends & Family plan in August. The plan had spread to eight countries, but Microsoft acknowledged this was a “preview program” all along and will cease to exist on August 15th. There’s no sign if it will return at a later date.
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