According to recent leaks, Microsoft will soon announce that Xbox users do not need an Xbox Live Gold subscription just to watch Netflix, MLB.tv, Hulu, and other streaming services. While this may affect relatively few serious gamers, it finally puts Xbox on par with the rest of its competitors in this regard.
As first reported by Ars Technica, this change is apparently going to be announced at June’s E3 conference. While the new Xbox One is impressive for its functionality as an all-around multimedia device, the fact that users had to pay for access to already-paid-for services like Netflix, Hulu, MLB.tv, and the like seemed to undermine its value for any non-gamers who might think about buying it.
Now, the Xbox One and existing Xbox 360s will no longer have this key drawback that likely led some users to its main competitor, the Sony PS4, or to instead choose streaming-only options like Roku or Apple TV. Those customers may now buy the more fully featured Xbox One and after the fact may be drawn into the extensive gaming ecosystem.
Not all is perfect, however, since Ars Technica believes Microsoft is weighing options as to which currently free services they may decide to restrict to Gold users to make up for this change. At this point, it is not clear which services those would be or even could be. The upcoming original television series from Xbox make a likely candidate, though.
Things could change before E3, but this move makes too much sense for Microsoft. Xbox has been a bit of a black sheep in this regard, so this move will be a long time coming.