UPDATE: The changes will be rolling out globally.
UPDATE 01/28/21: Microsoft has now said the changes to Xbox Live Gold and Game Pass agreed with the UK Competition and Markets Authority will be rolled out globally. “The inactive subscription changes will initially roll out in the UK and will soon be available globally,” a Microsoft spokesperson told The Verge.
Details of all the changes are listed below in our original report.
ORIGINAL STORY 1/27/21: Microsoft will make changes to the way it handles automatic renewal of Xbox Live Gold and Game Pass subscriptions after agreeing to a set of commitments with the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
The regulator is currently investigating the automatic renewal practices of the big three platform holders: Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft.
Under the terms of the agreement, Microsoft will make the following enhancements to address AMC’s concerns:
- Best initial information: Microsoft will provide more transparent up-front information to help customers understand their Xbox subscription – stating, for example, that the subscription will automatically renew unless the customer turns off auto-renewal; when the subscription will automatically renew; How much will it cost; and how the customer can receive a refund after an accidental renewal
- Refunds: Microsoft will contact existing customers on recurring 12-month contracts and give them the option to end their contract and request a prorated refund
- Inactive subscriptions: Microsoft will also contact existing customers who have not used their subscription for a long time but are still paying. These customers will be reminded how to stop payments, and if they continue not to use their subscriptions, Microsoft will eventually stop accepting further payments.
- Better information on price increases: Microsoft will provide clearer notifications of any future price increases and ensure users know how to turn off auto-renewal if they don’t want to pay the higher price.
Michael Grenfell, CMA’s Executive Director of Enforcement, said: “Other companies offering auto-renewing memberships and subscriptions should take note and review their practices to ensure they follow the consumer protection law.
The CMA’s investigation will continue, and we’ll likely see similar changes from Sony and Nintendo in a moment.
While these changes are clearly welcome, it’s unclear whether Microsoft will apply the same changes outside of the UK.