Microsoft is about to change the subscription process for Xbox Live and Game Pass. However, the changes have not come about in the usual manner. They have instead come about via a government investigation.

Subscribing to Xbox Live or Game Pass can be done in a number of ways. You can register via the website, on your Xbox console or by purchasing gift cards. However, the issue lies in what happens next.

An investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) into the online console video gaming sector raised concerns. Certain features of the subscription service, in particular whether it was clear to gamers initially signing-up that their contract would automatically renew, were highlighted.

Whether or not it was easy to turn off the automatic renewal feature was questioned. And whether people realised they were still paying for services they no longer used was also looked at as part of the investigation by the independent government department.

Xbox Game Pass logo

Xbox Live and Game Pass Subscription Changes

Following the investigation, the CMA says it has reached an agreement with Microsoft. Significant changes to the renewal process will come as a result. These include providing better upfront information for customers to help them understand the terms of their membership. That the subscription will auto-renew unless the customer turns off that option will be highlighted. Additionally, when that renewal will happen, how much will it cost and information on how customers can receive any refund after an accidental renewal will be made clearer.

According to the CMA, Microsoft will also contact existing customers who are on recurring 12-month contracts and give them the option to end their contract. Should they chose to do so, they can claim a pro-rata refund. Additionally, customers who haven’t used the service but are still paying money will be reminded how to stop their payments. If they continue not to use their memberships, Microsoft will stop taking money.

The company has also pledged to make sure its information about price increases is improved, with clearer notifications to be sent to Xbox’s online users about future price rises alongside information about how to turn off auto-renewal features if they don’t want to pay the higher price when the deal they are currently on ends.

“Gamers need to be given clear and timely information to make informed choices when signing up for auto-renewing memberships.

“We are therefore pleased that Microsoft has given the CMA these formal undertakings to improve the fairness of their practices and protect consumers, and will be offering refunds to certain customers.

Michael Grenfell, Executive Director of Enforcement, CMA

Do you subscribe to Xbox Live or Game Pass? Will you be affected by these changes? Let us know in the comments below!

Categories: Games