Xbox Live Gold price hike announced — what to do now

xbox live gold
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Xbox Series X games may soon cost $70 apiece, but that’s small change compared to how much it now costs for a year of Xbox Live Gold membership. As of today (Jan. 22), the cheapest Xbox Live Gold membership costs $60 for six months — a staggering change from yesterday’s price, in which $60 covered you for a whole year. 

Now that Xbox Live Gold’s price has essentially doubled, there are a few ways to retain old pricing, but only if you’re already subscribed. Information comes from the official Xbox Wire blog, in which Microsoft defends its decision in a variety of ways. 

The company claims that Xbox Live needs better infrastructure, and that its price hasn’t changed meaningfully in some markets for 10 years or more. 

While the blog dances around the fact that the least expensive Xbox Live Gold option has doubled in cost, it does at least provide a few ways to get around the price hike for the moment.

First, a little math. Up until yesterday, Xbox Live Gold memberships cost $10 for one month, $25 for three months and $60 for twelve months. As of today, the prices are $11 for one month, $30 for three months and $60 for six months. There is no 12-month option, meaning that the cheapest 12-month subscription available would be two six-month packages, for a total of $120.

Don’t think that subscribing for shorter periods of time will save you money, either. Twelve months at $11 apiece would cost $132; four three-month packages at $30 apiece would cost $120.

If you think these price increases are extreme, then a) You are not alone, and b) Microsoft has offered two ways around them. The only catch is that you have to be an existing 6- or 12-month Xbox Live Gold subscriber already. If you’re not, you should buy a physical or digital code from a third-party ASAP, although it may already be too late to get grandfathered in.

The first method is to simply renew your 6- or 12-month membership on your Xbox account page. They’ll renew at the current price. Microsoft probably won’t keep this option open forever, so the sooner you set your account to auto-renew, the better. (Remember: If you quit in disgust now, it’ll be more expensive to rejoin later.)

The second option is to upgrade your Xbox Live Gold membership to an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate membership. There’s no extra cost for this feature, and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate offers a game subscription library on top of Xbox Live Gold’s features. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate also costs $120 per year, but you’ll get a lot more features than you will from Xbox Live Gold alone.

If you think this sounds like a ploy to convert Xbox Live Gold subscribers into full Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members, well, Microsoft’s focus on Game Pass functionality isn’t exactly a secret. 

Game Pass is arguably at the center of the Xbox ecosystem, tying together the Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC and Xbox Android app. The program will soon expand to non-gaming PCs and iOS, too. It’s worth the cost if you want a full game library at your fingertips for a flat fee — and a very hard pill to swallow if you’re used to getting Gold benefits for half the cost.

Marshall Honorof

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.