Microsoft tests free Xbox Party Chat and more as part of Xbox Live changes

Microsoft tests free Xbox Party Chat and more as part of Xbox Live changes

Microsoft has announced it’s currently testing changes related to free-to-play games, including the ability to use Xbox Party Chat. The new Xbox Update Preview is coming to the Alpha Skip-Ahead ring.

The update means Xbox owners can play free-to-play games, including Fortnite, Call of Duty: Warzone, and Apex Legends, without an Xbox Live Gold subscription. Microsoft’s policy has always been a pain point for Xbox users because Sony and Nintendo don’t require subscriptions to their respective online services to play free-to-play titles.

Microsoft’s release notes were shared in a blog post on Wednesday. Here are the release notes, in part:

Multiplayer in Free-to-play games, Looking 4 Groups and Party Chat on Xbox no longer requires an Xbox Live Gold membership as we flight and test these service changes ahead of general availability.

The changes were originally announced after Microsoft reversed course on a planned price hike for Xbox Live Gold. In January, the company announced it would increase the price of a subscription to $60 for six months. The news was universally panned and led many to point out that not only was the price absurd, but a subscription was inexplicably required for free-to-play titles.

The newest Xbox Update Preview includes many other changes, including new firmware for the new Xbox Wireless Headset and a fix for Edge where players couldn’t select items with a controller. Unfortunately, Microsoft said there are still some known issues, which will need more time to be fully addressed. One of the issues has seen some users reporting that their mouse isn’t working correctly in Minecraft.

With these changes currently in testing, Microsoft is on its way toward making its online platform a lot more accessible. Hopefully, testing goes smoothly, so the changes are rolled out to everyone. We’ll let you know as soon as they’re available in a stable release.

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Brandon Russell
Brandon Russell

Brandon's love of technology can be traced back to his childhood, when he would obsessively watch Back to the Future. Since then he's followed the industry and its many innovations, from handheld consoles to powerful smartphones. He's still waiting on a hoverboard.