Fulfilling a promise it made earlier this year, Microsoft has now done away with the Xbox Live Gold requirement for free-to-play games on Xbox. Right now, this is available to members of the free Xbox Insider program, but it should roll out for everyone at some point in the future.
Xbox Live Gold will no longer be required for free-to-play games like Fortnite, Apex Legends, and Call of Duty: Warzone. Similarly, you will no longer need Gold for Party Chat and Looking For Groups. Microsoft is testing this change before rolling it out for everyone later on.
Xbox Insiders in Alpha Skip Ahead & Alpha today we are flighting some new features. Multiplayer in Free-to-play games, Looking 4 Groups and Party Chat on Xbox no longer requires an Xbox Live Gold membership as we flight and test these service changes ahead of general availability
— Xbox Insider (@xboxinsider) March 24, 2021
If you want to get started right now, you can download the Xbox Insider app on Xbox and enroll in the beta-testing program. It’s free and easy to do, but you should know that opting into the program means you’re testing still-in-development features, so bugs and other issues may pop up.
Microsoft announced it would drop the Xbox Live Gold requirement for free-to-play games earlier this year as part of its reversal of its planned Xbox Live Gold price hike. People continue to believe that Xbox Live Gold will be phased out, and this conjecture recently gained steam when Microsoft confirmed it will rebrand Xbox Live as Xbox Network. However, Microsoft has made it clear that Xbox Live is not going anywhere anytime soon.
Microsoft is now more focused on pushing Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, the latter subscription containing Xbox Live Gold in the package.