March 3, 2024

End of an Era as Microsoft Replaces Xbox Live Gold with Game Pass Core

Microsoft has announced the end of Xbox Live Gold, more than 20 years after it was first launched.

Games with Gold ends September 14 and will be replaced by Game Pass Core, which Microsoft described as an “evolution” of Xbox Live Gold. Core includes access to online console multiplayer and gives subscribers a collection of over 25 games to play on Xbox Series X and S and Xbox One for $9.99 per month or $59.99 per year.

Xbox Live first launched on the original Xbox on November 15, 2002, and was popularized by the online multiplayer portion of Halo 2. The Xbox 360, Xbox One and Xbox Series X and S all used the platform .

Games with Gold was launched for Xbox 360 in July 2013 and required online multiplayer. Sub included a handful of games each month, which was once popular but has become a laughing stock in recent years due to the low profile of free-to-play titles.

Here’s how it all works: at launch on September 14, Xbox Live Gold members automatically become Game Pass Core members. With the introduction of Game Pass Core, Games with Gold ends on September 1st. Here is the list of Core games at launch:

  • Among Us
  • Excerpt
  • dishonor 2
  • Doom Eternal
  • Anniversary Fable
  • Fallout 4
  • Fallout 76
  • Game Forza Horizon 4 online
  • Gears 5
  • On land
  • Halo 5: Guardians
  • Halo wars 2 online
  • Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
  • Human Fall Bald
  • Inside
  • Ori & The Will of the Wisps
  • Checks 2
  • State of decay 2
  • The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited

Microsoft said it will announce more Core games before September 14, and new games will be added two or three times a year.

Thank you to everyone who has been with us since the early days, joined along the way with friends, and now with us on Xbox Game Pass.

Players can continue to access any Xbox One game they previously redeemed through Games with Gold if they remain a Game Pass Ultimate or Game Pass Core member, Microsoft clarified. Regardless of subscription status, any Xbox 360 titles redeemed through Games with Gold in the past will be retained in a player’s library.

“With this evolution, we’re saying goodbye to Games with Gold,” said Jerret West, CVP, Gaming Marketing, in a post on Xbox Wire. “We wanted to use this opportunity to re-imagine how to include content with this donation. We found that the strongest catalog response was leveraging select titles from our Xbox Game Pass catalog.

“Thank you to everyone who has been with us since the early days, who joined us along the way with friends, and now with us on Xbox Game Pass. The stories we hear about online teammates becoming real-life friends after years of playing, or even marriages whose initial spark was ignited in a pre-game lobby, fill me with pride and shame. We can’t wait to hear from the community when it launches on September 14th, and we’ll see you online!”

With the launch of Game Pass Core, Game Pass has four distinct offerings: Core ($9.99 per month); Console ($10.99 per month); PC ($9.99 per month); and Ultimate ($16.99 per month). Here’s a handy graphic that summarizes what’s available:

As before, Console Game Pass does not include access to online console multiplayer. Free online multiplayer games didn’t previously require an Xbox Live Gold subscription, and they don’t now.

Earlier this month, Game Pass received its first price increase since its original launch six years ago. Xbox Game Pass got a dollar increase, from $9.99 to $10.99 per month (Core now carries the $9.99 price tag). Ultimate rose two dollars to $16.99 per month. PC Game Pass remained $9.99 per month.

The price hike and now this launch of Game Pass Core comes after Xbox boss Phil Spencer admitted that Game Pass growth is slowing and has the potential to cannibalize sales. Game Pass has been under the microscope since its inception, with Xbox trumpeting it as a new distribution paradigm and PlayStation boss Jim Ryan claiming publishers don’t like it. Activision Blizzard fan Bobby Kotick isn’t a fan, either, which makes for an interesting debate now that Microsoft is set to buy the Call of Duty maker for $69 billion.

Wesley is the UK News Editor for IGN. Find him on Twitter at @wyp100. You can reach Wesley at wesley_yinpoole@ign.com or confidentially at wyp100@proton.me.

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