Microsoft has announced that an Xbox Live Gold membership is no longer needed to play free-to-play titles.
In the past, Xbox actually required its players to pay for Xbox Live Gold in order to play free-to-play games on Xbox One, Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X. After 16 years of being required to pay for multiplayer, free-to-play games like Fortnite, Apex Legends, and Phantasy Star Online 2 will actually be free to play. The free-to-play restriction was made official by Xbox back in March and was being tested by members in the Xbox insiders beta testing program.
You can check out the full list on Xbox Wire of more than 50 titles that will literally be free to play as of April 21st. While it does break walls down, there are a few exceptions to the initiative like the free-to-play weekend promotions where a paid game is up for players to play for free for a limited time, this will still require Xbox Live Gold. Although demos won’t require Xbox Live Gold as they are free downloads. It’s a different story if a demo was acquired through pre-order or purchase, early access editions, trial license versions, and “$0 sale offers” of a game. They would be considered a premium/paid experience and therefore require Xbox Live Gold to play.
The free-to-play move by Xbox comes after PlayStation and Nintendo have made an exception for free-to-play titles like Rocket League, War Frame and more requiring PlayStation Plus or Nintendo Online. The move by Xbox comes after Xbox announced that Halo Infinite‘s multiplayer would be free-to-play and the quick realization Halo players would still have to pay to play, but that is no longer the case thankfully.
In addition to the news Xbox is unlocking two Xbox Live Gold benefits, “Looking for Groups” and “Party” for all Xbox players which will go live in an upcoming system update.