With Xbox Live Gold yearly subs no longer being available for purchase, it's being speculated that the service will soon be retired. And it seems like this is indeed going to be the case.
Jeff Grubb, who proved to be extremely reliable in terms of gaming leaks, stated today that Xbox Live Gold is "going away" and Xbox online multiplayer will become free, so there won't be any need to subscribe to the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to play online.
Xbox Live Gold is going away and playing online multiplayer will be free. They will not force you into Ultimate to play online.
— grubbsnax is back (@JeffGrubb) July 31, 2020
While Jeff Grubb has been extremely reliable in the past, and multiple things seem to point to the retirement of Xbox Live Gold, we have to take this with a pinch of salt until an official announcement is made. Needless to say, this would be huge, as the Xbox Series X would offer free online multiplayer at launch, potentially forcing Sony to change its strategies regarding online multiplayer on the PlayStation 5.
This isn't the first time we heard that Xbox Live Gold will soon become a thing of the past. Earlier this month, Xbox insider Klobrille stated that the online multiplayer paywall will eventually fall. With multiple insiders talking about the matter, there's very little doubt that something will change regarding paid online multiplayer soon.
The question is not if the online multiplayer paywall falls. The question is when.
As of now, it is still possible to purchase an Xbox Live Gold subscription, as only the 12 months subscription has been made unavailable for purchase, so it will take a few more months for paid online multiplayer to go away if the rumors are indeed correct. As a new Xbox digital event is seemingly happening next month, we will probably hear more about the matter in just a few days, so stay tuned for all the latest news.