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As pictured by a Twitter user and journalist Tom Warren, some Xbox owners have seen reference to Xbox Live replaced with the blanket “Xbox network” term when interacting with the platform’s capture app.
This week fans also discovered that Xbox frontman Larry Hryb recently changed his YouTube name from “Xbox Live’s Major Nelson” to simply, “Xbox’s Major Nelson”, further fuelling speculation that Xbox could be moving away from the Live branding.
UPDATE: Microsoft has told VGC the naming adjustment spotted by users this weekend is intended to distinguish its online service from Xbox Live Gold memberships.
ORIGINAL STORY CONTINUES: VGC has contacted Microsoft to ask why the changes were made and if they’re indicative of anything more than an aesthetic tweak.
The changes follow months of speculation that Microsoft could eventually move to phase out its Xbox Live Gold paid subscription service, due to the popularity of its Game Pass sub.
Last summer it was reported by multiple sources that the long-running service could be repackaged or phased out and multiplayer made available for free. Further fuelling speculation, the company updated its services agreement removing most references to Xbox Live.
At the time, a Microsoft spokesperson told VGC that, “there are no changes being made to the experience of the service or Xbox Live Gold.”
Microsoft recently u-turned on plans which would have seen the price of a six-month Xbox Live Gold subscription increase by 50% to $60.
The company said it had “messed up” following a negative response from fans and confirmed it would remove the requirement for Xbox Live Gold to play free-to-play games.
On Sunday, Verge reporter Tom Warren said he did not know what was happening with Xbox Live Gold, but claimed the recent price backlash “was certainly a wake up call internally at Microsoft.”
In 2019, Microsoft began bundling Gold with its Xbox Game Pass subscription service in the form of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which costs $14.99/£10.99 per month and features on demand gaming and access to EA Play.