After tweaking the Xbox One bundle to drop the Kinect, Microsoft was not done with the changes. It is amazing what being behind two million consoles in sales to Sony will do! It will be launching a number of changes to its Xbox Live Gold subscription to bring it more in line with Sony’s PlayStation Plus subscription program.
The first of these big changes is that an Xbox Live Gold subscription will no longer be required for entertainment applications starting in June. That’s right, starting in June the long standing tradition of Microsoft putting streaming applications such as Netflix, HBO Go, Twitch, Skype, Machinima, GoPro, Red Bull TV, the NFL, MLB.TV, NBA Game Time, and NHL Game Center behind the Xbox Live Gold subscription wall will come to an end on both the Xbox 360 and Xbox One. This is a very significant step for Microsoft and will put its consoles on an equal footing with Sony that does not require a PlayStation Plus subscription to use streaming apps on the PS3 and PS4.
In addition it will be expanding the Games with Gold program to the Xbox One. This is something Xbox One owners have been asking to be adding for what seems like forever. In addition Xbox One owners will also be able to take advantage of Deals With Gold on the Xbox One as well with Xbox One titles being sold at sale prices. The first two freebies to be offered by Microsoft for Xbox One owners will be Max The Curse of the Brotherhood and Halo: Spartan Assault. (With the news that month free game downloads are coming to the Xbox One, we can only hope that Microsoft will release an update quickly to allow the addition of USB 3.0 connected storage!)
Microsoft is making these changes ahead of E3 and it is obvious that they want to right the ship quickly, build some buzz, and start to narrow the sales gap between the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4. While all of these moves are great, the best thing that will help the Xbox One will be three things that need to happen at E3: First Microsoft needs to announces significant new exclusive titles, then Microsoft needs to announce a project date when DirectX 12 will be deployed on the Xbox One to narrow the graphics performance gap between it and the PlayStation 4. Finally, with so many Xbox One users either out of hard disk space or close to out of hard disk space on their consoles, news of when users will be able to add storage to their consoles has to be announced, along with a firm date of when it will happen.