The change is currently in testing for Xbox Insiders
Microsoft is currently testing a change to Xbox Live Gold that would allow players to access certain online multiplayer features — such as multiplayer gaming in free-to-play titles — without an active Xbox Live Gold subscription, the company announced Wednesday on the Xbox Insider Twitter account.
The company originally announced plans to make this change alongside a rollback of a planned Xbox Live price hike in January. This news comes two days after Microsoft confirmed a rebrand for Xbox Live, announcing plans to call it the Xbox network instead.
Xbox Insiders — specifically, those in both the Alpha Skip Ahead and Alpha programs — are currently testing a new version of the Xbox network that removes the Gold requirement from multiplayer in free-to-play games, Looking 4 Groups, and Party Chat. Microsoft said on Twitter that it is lifting the Gold paywall for Insiders as a test ahead of rolling out that change for everyone.
This shift would let players engage more directly with games like Destiny 2 and Fortnite, both free-to-play games that currently require players to have Xbox Live Gold to access multiplayer. This change is a recognition by Microsoft of the way games have changed over Xbox Live’s 18 years of existence. Now players who may not have the means to pay an extra $60 a year can — eventually — play with their friends.