Currently if you want to play free-to-play games online on Xbox for free (which means not paying for the Gold membership), you’re out of luck. But the time is nigh. Starting from today, Microsoft is beginning to test the free of charge access with its Xbox Insiders in the Alpha Skip Ahead and Alpha programs.
Microsoft has already confirmed that free online play on Xbox for free-to-play games on the platform would be coming in 2021. It never mentioned when though. The company still hasn’t confirmed exact dates for this change. But with the testing now starting to go live for Insiders, it’s possible that a full rollout isn’t too far off.
Xbox is the only platform that still doesn’t offer free online play
While you’ll still need a membership on PlayStation and Nintendo to play online multiplayer for titles like Call Of Duty, you don’t need it for games like Fortnite or Apex Legends. Or other free-to-play games on those platforms.
That leaves Xbox as the only remaining platform that still requires a subscription to the premium membership. After the testing is done with Insiders though, Microsoft is moving things out to general availability. Which means everyone will then be able to play free games online without subscribing to Xbox Live Gold.
Free online play isn’t the only thing being tested either. Microsoft plans to make two additional features available at no charge.
Party chat and looking for groups are going free too
Joining the free online play for free-to-play titles will be the Party Chat, and Looking for Group features. Both of those features being free also makes sense.
Playing free-to-play titles like Apex Legends and Fortnite, as well as Warframe or other online multiplayer titles, is better when you can chat with teammates. Some activities are much smoother with it. And if you like to play competitively, you’re usually at a disadvantage if you can’t talk with other people on your team.
Having said that, it wouldn’t make much sense to open up online multiplayer for free-to-play titles without the features that enhance the experience. So Microsoft is making all three available.
Xbox Insiders in Alpha Skip Ahead & Alpha today we are flighting some new features. 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 availabilityAdvertisement
— Brad Rossetti (@WorkWombatman) March 24, 2021