Microsoft today announces that Xbox Party Chat will soon be free for Xbox owners. The software maker has begun testing a new Xbox Dashboard update with testers today that unlocks Xbox Party Chat, multiplayer in free games and the Looking For Groups (LFG) feature.
Xbox Party Chat is a surprising addition to Microsoft’s announced plans to remove the payment wall for free to play multiplayer games. The removal came after Microsoft was forced to reverse a price increase to Xbox Live Gold subscriptions earlier this year. Microsoft is also renaming the Xbox Live service to Xbox-only, which is part of the dashboard changes the company is currently testing.
Xbox Insiders in Alpha Skip Ahead & Alpha today we fly with some new features. Multiplayer in Free-to-play games, Looking 4 Groups and Party Chat on Xbox no longer require an Xbox Live Gold membership while we fly and test these service changes before general availability
̵1; Brad Rossetti (@WorkWombatman) March 24, 2021
Xbox testers can now access free multiplayer games like Fortnite, without needing an Xbox Live Gold subscription. This puts the Xbox in line with Sony’s and Nintendo’s online services, which also do not require a subscription to free games.
These changes will appear to all Xbox owners in the coming months, when Microsoft is ready to push this dashboard update out to all users. This latest dashboard update also includes a new Xbox Wireless Headset firmware update that will improve microphone monitoring and lower the status of status tones.