Rumors that Xbox Live could be rebranded have circualted for months, with fans speculating that the online multiplayer subscription could be changed to further emphasize Xbox Game Pass. Microsoft has denied these rumors in the past, but there’s now some new evidence to support a potential overhaul of the service into what could be known as the “Xbox Network,” at least if some console UI changes are to be belived.
First brought to the internet’s attention by The Verge Senior Editor Tom Warren, it appears that some users have had their Xbox UI updated, as it now seems to try and upload screenshots and other media to the “Xbox Network” rather than Xbox Live, as it’s meant to currently. If the UI change does turn out to be true, it could mark a major shift in Xbox’s strategy.
The most telling thing is the name itself. Xbox Network sounds far more cross-platform than Xbox Live Gold has in the past, and Xbox has repeatedly indicated its desire to turn the brand into a game platform rather than just a console manufacturer. It’s likely that this would mean an increased emphasis on PC gaming, as well as Xbox’s game streaming ambitions.
It’s worth noting, however, that Xbox hasn’t confirmed anything yet, and this wouldn’t be the first time that fans were duped by an incorrect UI element if it is proven to be false. Just last week, IGN Italy spotted a reference to an Xbox VR headset while updating the new Xbox Wireless Headset, though this turned out to be a localization error, dashing down rumors.
Still, Xbox Live is in need of an overhaul, especially as a premium subscription service. Access to online multiplayer has been the main draw since the service’s inception, but that’s become the standard. Sony packages free games each month with PS Plus, which is its main draw. Xbox Live Gold includes a similar offer, but the offerings tend to be lackluster, often resulting in disappointment when they’re announced.
The specifics of such a change are still a mystery. Ideally, switching to the “Xbox Network” would mean online play is free, but it’s hard to tell if that would be the case. More likely than not, the Xbox Network would heavily incorporate Xbox Game Pass in some way, as it’s becoming an increasingly important aspect of the company’s business model. Regardless, now that word has gotten out, fans can expect to hear from Microsoft soon.