Microsoft Unlocks Online Multiplayer For Free-to-Play Games on Xbox

Back in January, Microsoft announced that they would remove the paywall from free-to-play games on Xbox. Meaning, games like Fortnite, Apex Legends, COD Warzone, and other free-to-play games would no longer require Xbox Live Gold to play the titles.

So far, we have seen Microsoft roll out this updated experience to Insiders who are installing pre-release builds of the Xbox OS. Today, the company has announced that they are flipping the switch and making the feature available to all Xbox users – this unlocks more than 50 games.

This is a big change for Microsoft and one that is long-overdue but late is better than never. For gamers who only play these games, you will be able to save a few bucks each month but I suspect that Microsoft realized that most who play these games also play other titles that require Live Gold and this is more of a marketing win than a potential impact to its bottom-line.

There are also a few other changes in the Xbox world that astute observers may have noticed recently as well. But before we dive into this, it is my understanding that this is branding only, nothing is changing with Xbox Live or Xbox Live Gold.

For almost two decades, nearly everything in the online world of Xbox has been Xbox Live branded. But recently, Microsoft has slowly been moving away from calling features Xbox Live and simply Xbox.

What I mean is that we have recently seen the company adopt Xbox network instead of Xbox Live and in other places, the Xbox Live community is now the Xbox community. As Xbox has grown and is now much bigger than online multiplayer, these subtle branding changes reflect the maturity of the platform.

And the Xbox network is growing, just this week Microsoft started to roll out Cloud Gaming for iOS and the browser; if you want to see what the browser experience looks like, here is my hands-on with the feature.

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Conversation 7 comments

  • gregsedwards

    Premium Member
    21 April, 2021 - 1:53 pm

    <p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">This is going to be huge for my family. I've</span> had to pay for Xbox Live Gold memberships for two of my kids for years, just so they could play Overwatch, Fortnite, and Apex Legends on separate consoles. I transitioned them over to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate last year, but given that they only play a handful of games and haven't taken advantage of the XGP library at all, this seems like it'll be a much better fit</p>

  • tripleplayed

    21 April, 2021 - 6:31 pm

    <p>Multiplayer should be free for every game. </p>

  • scovious

    22 April, 2021 - 1:53 am

    <p>Xbox Live and Game Pass should have family packs at a discount.</p>

  • Cardch

    22 April, 2021 - 2:08 am

    <p>But you still need Live Gold to play paid for titles, right? i.e. Minecraft? </p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      22 April, 2021 - 9:29 am


      • Cardch

        23 April, 2021 - 3:10 am

        <blockquote><em><a href="#624309">In reply to paul-thurrott:</a></em></blockquote><blockquote>Thanks for clarifying, good to know (though sadly means I’m out of luck).</blockquote><p><br></p>

  • tedcrilly

    22 April, 2021 - 5:35 am

    <p>Finally, though, Yaris will be truly free-to-play! :-)</p>


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