RIP, Xbox Live (2002-2021)

xbox live xbox network
Image: Microsoft / Kotaku

The name “Xbox Live” is dead. You’ll still be able to play Xbox games online, but the suite of Xbox’s online services will now be known as “Xbox network,” Microsoft confirmed today to The Verge.

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This morning, many Xbox users noticed a small change on the the Xbox dashboard. While uploading a screenshot to Xbox Live, some players noticed a reference to “Xbox network” where “Xbox Live” used to be.

“‘Xbox network’ refers to the underlying Xbox online service, which was updated in the Microsoft Services Agreement,” a Microsoft spokesperson told The Verge. “The update from ‘Xbox Live’ to ‘Xbox network’ is intended to distinguish the underlying service from Xbox Live Gold memberships.”

First launched in 2002, Xbox Live allowed players to play Xbox games online for a fee. The nine original Live-compatible games included MechAssault and NFL Fever 2003. As of last year, the service is no longer available for the original 2001 Xbox, but a third-party project is trying to restore functionality.

Xbox Live Gold, which costs $10 a month and is necessary to play games online, comes bundled with subscriptions to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, Microsoft’s $15-monthly games-on-demand service. Members of Xbox Live Gold also get “free” games every month through a program known as “Games with Gold.” In an investor call this year, Microsoft confirmed that Game Pass has 18 million subscribers, a 20-percent jump from the fall.

In January, Microsoft announced an intention to increase the price of Xbox Live Gold, making it so the minimum (official) annual cost would leap from $60 to $120. Following widespread backlash, Microsoft reversed course and further announced that Xbox Live Gold would no longer be necessary to play free-to-play games. That change will happen at some point in the coming months, with no firm date yet.

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In the meantime, let’s take a walk down memory lane and relive some of the best Xbox Live memories:

  • Fishing around the internet for discounted one-year cards of Xbox Live Gold, so you didn’t have to pay $60 for a year-long subscription.
  • Digging out your dusty Xbox 360 to increase the length of your gamertag.
  • Long days spent playing Halo 2 over the internet.
  • Not being able to officially play Halo: Combat Evolved online.

Long live Xbox Live.

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Staff Writer, Kotaku

DISCUSSION

My daughter took her first steps while I was playing Capture the Flag on Colossus on Halo 2. I thought my teammates were cheering for me because I was so excited, but then I found out that they were really screaming at me because I didn’t stop the flag carrier and the other team won.

I was berated by a person with the gamertag “Angry Bedwetter”, and I wouldn’t change a thing. Long live Live.