Microsoft has changed the name of its Xbox Live service for the first time since it was introduced 19 years ago.
In a statement to The Verge, a spokesperson for Microsoft explained that the rebranding is intended to “distinguish the underlying service from Xbox Live Gold memberships”. The rep also said that the new name “refers to the underlying Xbox online service, which was updated in the Microsoft Services Agreement”.
The service’s new branding began drawing attention over the weekend when several players noticed the name change in their dashboards. Other players who tried to upload data, such as game clips onto the service were also prompted with a notice that read “Upload to Xbox network?”.
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— Tom Warren (@tomwarren) March 21, 2021
The Xbox Live service – now Xbox network – is Microsoft’s free online service for Xbox consoles that gives players access to free games, apps, movies and TV shows, live events, music, and more.
The Xbox Live gold service, which will retain its name, is a paid subscription that gives players access to multiplayer networks. The service also rewards players with free games every month and hefty discounts on multiple titles.
Earlier this year, Microsoft announced a planned price increase for its Xbox Live Gold subscription service. The planned price hike would have seen a one-month subscription increasing from £6.99 to £7.99, three months jumping from £17.99 to £21.99, and finally the six-month subscription seeing a movement from £29.99 to £42.99.
Following an outpouring of disapproval from gamers, Microsoft announced that it would be reversing the price hike. “We always try to do our best for you and today we missed the mark. We hear you, and we’re reversing our Xbox Live Gold pricing updates,” the company said.
Microsoft also announced that free-to-play online games such as Fortnite would no long require a paid subscription via Xbox Live Gold in order for players to connect with their friends.
In other news, Microsoft is reportedly testing out its latest Microsoft Edge Chromium browser via the Xbox Alpha Skip-Ahead testers group. The new Edge Chromium will also reportedly “provide access to Google’s Stadia streaming service, thanks to the improved compatibility support”.