Xbox Live is officially dead. Long live Xbox Network.
In a move that definitely won't confuse anyone at all, Microsoft has decided to rename its underlying online service from Xbox Live (which it has been called since 2002) to Xbox Network. This, Microsoft says, is to help distinguish the service from Xbox Live Gold, which is the name of the premium membership that grants access to online multiplayer and a selection of monthly free games.
"'Xbox network' refers to the underlying Xbox online service, which was updated in the Microsoft Services Agreement," a Microsoft spokesperson explained to The Verge in a statement . "The update from 'Xbox Live' to 'Xbox network' is intended to distinguish the underlying service from Xbox Live Gold memberships."
The long and short of this change is that... well, nothing is actually expected to change in terms of how players interact with Xbox Network. We're just going to have to get use to calling Xbox Live by a different name after nearly 20 years, which is bound to be an adjustment period for many of the more dedicated Xbox gamers out there. Mechanically speaking, at least, Xbox Network is exactly the same today as Xbox Live was last week. It rather makes me wonder why the name change was needed at all, to be honest.
It's certainly been a turbulent few months for Microsoft's online service. The company faced massive backlash at the start of the year when it announced a price hike for Xbox Live Gold that nearly doubled the annual cost of the membership. The decision was swiftly reversed however, and Microsoft admitted that it had messed up. It also announced that online free-to-play titles would no longer require a Gold membership to access, just to sweeten the deal.
"We messed up today and you were right to let us know," the company said less than a day after it announced the price hike. "Connecting and playing with friends is a vital part of gaming and we failed to meet the expectations of players who count on it every day. We're turning this moment into an opportunity to bring Xbox Live more in line with how we see the player at the center of their experience. For free-to-play games, you will no longer need an Xbox Live Gold membership to play those games on Xbox. We are working hard to deliver this change as soon as possible in the coming months."
I give it a month before Microsoft changes Xbox Network back to Xbox Live, honestly.
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