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Rumor: Xbox One, Xbox 360 to ditch paywall requirement for video streaming

Xbox LIVE
Xbox LIVE
Photo courtesy of Microsoft, used with permission

Netflix, Hulu Plus and other streaming media apps have been trapped behind the Xbox LIVE paywall since their release on the Xbox 360 and now the Xbox One. A rumor that appeared Monday suggests that may change with an E3 announcement this June.

Update: Microsoft has confirmed this rumor and has announced a change to the Xbox One along with a price drop.

According to “multiple sources within Microsoft” that have been in contact with Ars Technica, the change to bring media streaming apps from out behind the Xbox LIVE Gold subscription requirement is in the plans. However, Microsoft plans to offset this by putting other services behind the paywall.

Since most every online service requires an Xbox LIVE Gold subscription, it’s hard to image what else could be put behind the paywall. The one unknown is the upcoming Xbox Originals content such as the “Halo” TV series, “Deadlands,” “Every Street United” and more.

If true, this would be a significant step forward for Microsoft and the Xbox One in particular. Both have been hammered by consumers and the media for its insistence on keeping streaming services behind a paywall while direct competitors like the PS4 and media boxes like Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV do not have such a requirement.

Ars Technica stresses that nothing is official yet and that Microsoft could easily change its plans away from the E3 announcment during Microsoft’s media briefing on June 9. Interestingly though, the change has come due to the departure of former Xbox head Don Mattrick and the introduction of Phil Spencer as the new leader for Xbox.

While Spencer has only been officially in charge of Xbox since the end of March, he’s already hinted at plans to improve the Xbox One and Xbox 360. This includes improving the Games with Gold promotion to increase the quality of the free games and a hint at several E3 announcements including the return of older, unused IP.

Xbox LIVE Gold subscriptions are normally $59.99 for a year. They regularly go on sale between $40 and $50 at retailers like Amazon though.