Microsoft makes Xbox Party Chat free as part of its Xbox Live free-to-play changes

Microsoft is announcing today that Xbox Party Chat will be free for Xbox owners soon. The software maker has started testing a new Xbox dashboard update with testers today that unlocks Xbox Party Chat, multiplayer in free-to-play games, and the Looking For Groups (LFG) feature.

Xbox Party Chat is a surprise addition to Microsoft’s announced plans to remove the paywall for free-to-play multiplayer games. The removal came after Microsoft was forced to reverse a price hike to its Xbox Live Gold subscriptions earlier this year. Microsoft is also renaming its Xbox Live service to just Xbox network, which is part of dashboard changes the company is currently testing.

Xbox Insiders in Alpha Skip Ahead & Alpha today we are flighting some new features. Multiplayer in Free-to-play games, Looking 4 Groups and Party Chat on Xbox no longer requires an Xbox Live Gold membership as we flight and test these service changes ahead of general availability

— Brad Rossetti (@WorkWombatman) March 24, 2021

Xbox testers can now access multiplayer free-to-play games like Fortnite, without needing an Xbox Live Gold subscription. This puts Xbox in line with Sony and Nintendo’s online services that also don’t require a subscription for free-to-play games.

These changes will appear for all Xbox owners in the coming months, once Microsoft is ready to push this dashboard update out to all users. This latest dashboard update also includes a new firmware update for the Xbox Wireless Headset that will improve mic monitoring levels and lower the volume of status tones.

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