Free online games still aren’t really free on Xbox One
Yesterday, rocket league developer Psyonix has announced that when the game goes free later this year, you won’t need a paid subscription anymore to play it online on PS4 or Switch. Unfortunately, this will not be the case on Xbox One.
rocket league will instead be the latest in a long line of free online games that aren’t really free on Microsoft’s consoles. Just like with fortnite, Intrepidand Apex Legends, you’ll be able to download and install the game for free, but you’ll still need to pay Microsoft for a monthly Xbox Live subscription in order to play it. Sony and Nintendo also require monthly subscriptions to play online games, but make an exception for free games. The winter release of Ubisoft’s free-to-play Battle Royale Hyperscape is another example. It’s free to play online on PS4, but nearly $15 a month on Xbox One.
While this doesn’t necessarily affect people who play a ton of games and are therefore already subscribed to things like Xbox Live Gold or Game Pass Ultimate, people regularly post to the Xbox Support forums and related subreddits asking if they can play “free” games like Destiny 2 for, well, for free. And the answer is still no. It doesn’t help that Microsoft recently mothballed its $80 Xbox Live Gold annual subscriptions. Now, if you want to subscribe, you have to do so in more expensive one- or three-month increments (i.e. $140-$160 per year).
We still do not know why this is the case either. Microsoft did not respond to a request for comment. When Kotaku asked Psyonix why Rocket League will require Xbox Live but not PS Plus or Switch Online, a spokesperson simply replied, “It’s based on platform policies.”
We are now heading towards a new generation of consoles in which expectations are changing and the habits of the past do not necessarily prevail over the future. Where upgrading games from PS3 to PS4 cost money in 2013, this time around most of those upgrades are free. When Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War releases in November, it will support cross-play across generations and across platforms. This next generation of consoles could be a chance not only for Microsoft to stop requiring Xbox Live for free games, but also for all console manufacturers to stop requiring paid subscriptions to play online games, period. final.
After all, it’s been that way on PC for over two decades. Not to mention it’s going to get awkward when Xbox Series X players are have to pay extra to play Infinite Halofree multiplayerwhile PC gamers aren’t charged a dime.