One way to stop rumors and speculation that Xbox Live Gold is going away is to offer a weekend of free online gaming, right? That seems to be the thinking over at Microsoft. Xbox announced its Big Gaming Weekend today, unlocking multiplayer for all Xbox One consoles from August 6-10. This means for the next four days, players won't need Xbox Live Gold in order to enjoy online multiplayer.
"Multiplayer will be unlocked on all Xbox One consoles for everybody, so you can play with all your friends–even the ones who do not have Xbox Live Gold on every game you own, games like Fortnite and more games that are available to you," wrote Xbox Game Pass Community Manager Megan Spurr on Xbox Wire.
Microsoft is also offering a number of games for free during the weekend. Borderlands 3 multiplayer is available starting today until August 9. The multiplayer side of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare will be available from August 7-10. On the console side, Black Desert, Dragon Ball FighterZ, Monster Hunter World, Elder Scrolls Online, and Naruto to Boruto: Shinobi Striker (multiplayer only) will all be unlocked for everyone to play during the whole weekend. Certain titles will be available on Xbox One and PC, including Gears 5 (multiplayer only), Subnautica, and Ark: Survival Evolved (multiplayer only).
There have been rumors that Xbox Live will be changing in some fashion, with Xbox Live Gold going away completely. This started when some noticed changes in Microsoft's service agreement with "Xbox Live" being referred to as "Xbox online service". This follows the removal of the 12-month subscription option of Xbox Live Gold from Microsoft's online store. Despite that, Microsoft has downplayed these rumors.
"We have no plans to discontinue Xbox Live Gold at this time. It is an important part of gaming on Xbox today, and will continue to be in the future," the company told The Verge.
Still, speculation continues that Xbox Live Gold will be folded into Xbox Game Pass or Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, as the company increasingly focuses on drawing players towards those services. Microsoft recently revealed that Project xCloud, its game streaming service, would be a part of the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription. Halo Infinite, a flagship title for Xbox this year, will have free-to-play multiplayer when it launches. Xbox Game Pass currently has 10 million subscribers, which is a lot of money passively heading Microsoft's way, so it makes sense to push consumers in that direction.