Microsoft pulled another stunning reversal Tuesday by announcing that an Xbox LIVE Gold subscription will no longer be required to use entertainment apps such as Netflix and Twitch on the Xbox One and Xbox 360. An accompanying FAQ that was released reveals that individuals will be able to cancel their subscriptions and get money back when the changes go live. None of these policy changes affects games though.
“Once the Xbox One and Xbox 360 system updates become available in June, Xbox Live Gold members who purchased a paid membership before that day can cancel and receive a pro-rata refund of any unused remaining days between the date of cancellation and the date their paid Gold membership ends,” the Xbox LIVE support FAQ reveals. “Cancellation and pro-rata refund requests must be made by August 31, 2014 and require six to eight weeks for processing.”
Those interested in cancelling their memberships should go to support.xbox.com/contact-us after the updates to both consoles go live in June. Obviously, you should not expect any money back if you are using a free or trial membership.
While Microsoft has changed the Xbox LIVE Gold policy for apps, the policy for games, even the free-to-play ones, has not changed. “Right now we haven't changed the policy on MMOs and free-to-play games," Xbox head Phil Spencer told Joystiq.
This will understandably disappoint consumers who have hoped that Microsoft will make changes to the Xbox One and Xbox 360 to put it on par with the PS3 and PS4 when it comes to free games and MMOs. However, Spencer’s discussion with Joystiq indicates that this hasn’t been ruled out for the future, it’s just something they couldn’t do now. He spoke to “constraints” revolving around engineering, policies and partners that keep them from making the change immediately.
"So today, the announcement is about the entertainment applications being available to all Xbox Live members," Spencer said. "It was really about going as fast as we could on the things that we completely controlled."
That included adding a Kinect-less Xbox One option for $399 and introducing the Games with Gold program for the next-gen console and expanding the program on the Xbox 360. While there are several free-to-play games on the Xbox 360 that would benefit from removing the Xbox LIVE Gold requirement, such as “World of Tanks,” the Xbox One can skate by with the current policy until “The Elder Scrolls Online” releases in six months.