Microsoft is making its Xbox subscription practices more transparent for consumers

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Following an investigation from the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), Microsoft has agreed to change its Xbox subscription practices to increase transparency for consumers (via Eurogamer). The changes will apply to Xbox Live Gold as well as Xbox Game Pass, Microsoft’s game subscription service that recently crossed 25 million subscribers.

The issue raised by the CMA is that Microsoft’s Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass subscriptions are often offered to consumers on an auto-renewal basis, something that not all new subscribers may not be aware of. Overall, the CMA estimated that it’s probably too easy for consumers to forget how to turn off automatic renewal, or too difficult to find how to do it.

In accordance with the CMA, Microsoft has agreed to introduce the following changes to make its Xbox subscription practices more transparent:

  • Microsoft will better explain to new customers that their subscription will carry on unless they turn off auto-renewal.
  • For consumers who opted for a recurring 12-month subscription, Microsoft will offer them the option to cancel their subscription and get a pro-rata refund.
  • If Microsoft notices that consumers aren’t actively using their subscription, the company will remind them about cancellation options and even stop the subscription (and payments) if consumers continue not to use it actively.
  • Microsoft will also better inform subscribers about price increases and inform them about how to turn off auto-renewal to avoid paying more.

The CMA launched its consumer law investigation into the auto-renewal practices of Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo back in 2019, and Microsoft was the first company to agree to make a series of improvements. “Other companies offering memberships and subscriptions that auto-renew should take note, and review their practices to ensure they comply with consumer protection law,” said Michael Grenfell, Executive Director of Enforcement at the CMA.