Microsoft has withdrawn 12-month Xbox Live subscriptions from sale in its Microsoft stores.
While codes are still available via third-party retailers elsewhere, the option to buy the 12-month subscription plan – which offered the best value to players – was digitally delisted without notification, prompting some to presume it was made in error.
Now, however, Microsoft has confirmed the removal of the year-long plans from sale was not accidental, kicking off a flurry of speculation that the Xbox Live Gold service – which spans two generations of Xbox consoles – is either going to be significantly changed or removed entirely with the arrival of next-gen.
While the company wouldn't be drawn on why the subscription had been withdrawn, a Microsoft spokesperson told True Achievements: "At this time, Xbox has decided to remove the 12 months Xbox Live Gold SKU from the Microsoft online Store. Customers can still sign up for a one month or three month Xbox Live Gold subscription online through the Microsoft Store."
Speculation is now rife that the subscription service is being phased out as Xbox ramps up support of its Xbox Game Pass and xCloud streaming services, the latter of which will join the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription bundle in September at no additional cost to subscribers.
Microsoft is also no longer making the Xbox One X or the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition. In the lead-up to starting its next generation with Xbox Series X, Microsoft confirmed that it will no longer manufacture two out of the three systems that make up the current Xbox One family. The standard Xbox One S, which is distinguished from the All-Digital Edition by its inclusion of a Blu-ray drive and higher price, is the only one sticking around for the time being.
"As we ramp into the future with Xbox Series X, we're taking the natural step of stopping production on Xbox One X and Xbox One S All-Digital Edition. Xbox One S will continue to be manufactured and sold globally," Microsoft said in a statement at the time.
Check out our big guide to upcoming Xbox Series X games.