As Xbox continues to work towards improving its platform in all capacities, so too is it working to streamline its online features and make them available to fans on a practical level. Previously, Xbox had announced it was going remove the requirement for Xbox Live Gold subscription from multiplayer free-to-play games like Fortnite. That seems to be going into effect soon. However, Xbox also revealed that it would be dropping the Gold subscription requirement from other features of the online service, such as Party Chat.
Xbox revealed the changes in Xbox Live Gold requirement for various features were being loaded into the system for testing first via the Xbox Insider program. As March 24, 2021, features have been “flighted” into the Alpha Skip Ahead and Alpha ends of the Xbox Insider program, allowing users to utilize multiplayer free-to-play games, Looking 4 Groups, and Party Chat without the need of an Xbox Live Gold subscription that would otherwise be necessary for these services.
Xbox Insiders in Alpha Skip Ahead & Alpha today we are flighting some new features. Multiplayer in Free-to-play games, Looking 4 Groups and Party Chat on Xbox no longer requires an Xbox Live Gold membership as we flight and test these service changes ahead of general availability— Xbox Insider (@xboxinsider) March 24, 2021
Xbox previously announced the change to free-to-play games following backlash about the rise in cost of Xbox Live Gold back in January 2021. After reversing its decision to change cost, Xbox announced it would use the situation as a learning experience to further position the Xbox Live service to put players at the forefront.
“For free-to-play games, you will no longer need an Xbox Live Gold membership to play those games on Xbox,” Xbox Marketing GM Aaron Greenberg wrote. “We are working hard to deliver this change as soon as possible in the coming months.”
It would appear those coming months have passed and that time is coming shortly. After some testing, players should be able to access Party Chat and multiplayer in free-to-play games like Fortnite and Apex Legends without the need for Xbox Live Gold. As we wait for these features to pass through testing, stay tuned for their official launch on the Xbox Live platform.