Some Xbox testers no longer need a subscription to Xbox Live Gold for free-to-play multiplayer games.
Back in January, Microsoft announced, and then quickly reversed, an Xbox Live price hike that would've seen subscription costs increase at every tier. In explaining its decision, the company also said in no uncertain terms that "you will no longer need an Xbox Live Gold membership to play [free-to-play] games on Xbox." Today, Xbox testers can see that change in effect. Microsoft suggested in January (opens in new tab) that the general public can expect the update to launch "in the coming months."
Microsoft has confirmed via Xbox Wire (opens in new tab) that for testers in the Alpha Skip ring of the Xbox Insider program, multiplayer in free-to-play games, as well as the Looking 4 Groups and Party Chat features, no longer require an Xbox Live Gold membership. These updates are currently being tested "ahead of general availability." You'll also find an array of Xbox Insider fixes and known issues in the Xbox Wire post.
Of course, we also just learned that Xbox Live is being renamed Xbox Network, though we've yet to see just what that means for subscription prices. It seems unlikely for Microsoft to stick with the current pricing structure with so many ongoing changes, despite its earlier walking back of price increases.