When Microsoft launched its original Xbox in 2001, a key capability of the then-new console was the ability to play games online, as well as the potential for add-ons and downloadable content for many offered titles. The online gaming feature was unveiled a year later, named Xbox Live. It would follow the Xbox line through its successor consoles and even on Windows computers, offering free services and paid subscription options. As a long-running service, one might not be surprised if Xbox Live got a rebranding from Microsoft, similar to CBS All Access recently becoming Paramount+. Microsoft is planning to rename Xbox Live, the better to reflect its numerous expanded services.
The Verge tells us that Microsoft has begun taking steps to rename its Xbox Live service to the more mundane Xbox network (note the un-capitalized second word). Beta testers of Xbox live have started seeing the new name replacing the original “Live” moniker on the online service’s dashboard, and later Microsoft itself has confirmed the change that is coming. Their official statement describes Xbox network as the new name for the overall online service for the Xbox series, in order to make it distinct from the paid-subscription Xbox Live Gold.
Microsoft may have been planning the Xbox network rebranding as early as the middle of last year, as they began editing portions of text on their Service Agreement. One reason for the rebranding, which separates Xbox Live Gold from the rest of Xbox network, was to enable free-to-play games to be played on the non-subscription tier (where originally, and ironically, one needed Live Gold to play them at all). As such, “Fortnite” on Xbox One and Series will no longer require subscription, just like when playing the game on PC. Microsoft has yet to announce when that will happen however, but now that Xbox Live is visibly transitioning to Xbox network, it will be soon.
Image from Video Games Chronicle