In preparation for the Xbox Series X, Microsoft looks to be continuing its big overhaul of the Xbox's online services.
In a statement to TrueAchievements (via TechRadar), Xbox has confirmed it is no longer selling 12-month subscriptions to Xbox Live Gold, the service which offers online multiplayer and free downloadable games each month to subscribers. "At this time, Xbox has decided to remove the 12 months Xbox Live Gold SKU from the Microsoft online Store," goes the statement from an unnamed Microsoft spokesperson.
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You can still pay for Gold by monthly or three-month periods, in case you want to maintain online access for the time being. However, if you're a keen Xbox player you're likely going to be more interested in whatever Microsoft is cooking up next.
We recently heard that Xbox would be combining its Game Pass and xCloud services. Merging its game-on-demand and game streaming offerings means that users won't have to fill up their console's storage with games, and can instead play them via the cloud on the Xbox or an Android device linked to their account. With this recent Xbox Live Gold move, it's perhaps possible that Microsoft plans to fold this into the new all-in-one subscription, too.
We can perhaps expect some closer integration for Game Pass Ultimate as well, which features support for PC gaming as well as Xbox consoles. Since Xbox is introducing Smart Delivery, which allows users to buy games on Xbox consoles and PCs simultaneously, it wouldn't make much sense for it to continue running the Xbox and PC versions of Game Pass as separate entities.
The Xbox Series X is expected to launch in November, as is the PS5. The two share many specs, such as ray-tracing compatibility and fast SSD storage. However, the Xbox offers a few more teraflops of GPU output than the PS5, as well as the Smart Delivery system. The PS5, on the other hand, is focusing on exclusive games, 3D audio and its DualSense haptic controller to stand out.