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Microsoft will change Xbox subscription practices: here are the details

Following an investigation by the CMA (UK’s Competition And Markets Authority), Microsoft has agreed to change the way it manages subscriptions for Xbox. The company will now have to refund and cancel any inactive memberships to its Xbox Live and Game Pass services.

CMA’s investigation began in 2019 and orders Microsoft to provide “better initial information” for their online gaming services. Microsoft’s current practice is to offer UK users three months of Xbox Game Pass, after which the membership automatically renews.

CMA is concerned about the ease of access to features that allow users to easily sign up for a service, but never details the details of a cancellation process. This obscure information leads to cases where a person completely forgets about the subscription but continues to be charged for the service without realizing it.

Microsoft will now offer “more transparent” information to help customers understand their Xbox subscription – clearly indicating when and how their subscription will automatically renew, as well as the cost and membership period. The company will also be more upfront about how to disable the process and how a customer could request a refund after an accidental renewal.

The company will need to contact all of its existing customers on recurring 12-month contracts and give them the option to cancel it and request a proportional refund. Inactive subscribers will also be contacted and reminded on how to stop payments. Any price increases will also be notified clearly, allowing automatic renewal to be canceled if they do not intend to pay that amount.

“Gamers should receive clear and timely information to make informed choices when signing up for memberships and auto-renewing subscriptions. We are therefore pleased that Microsoft has given the CMA these formal commitments to improve the fairness of their practices and protect consumers, and will offer refunds to certain customers,” said Michael Grenfell, executive director of enforcement at the CMA.

These are positive changes that Microsoft will soon adopt globally. We could soon expect to see these practices being implemented across the PlayStation and Nintendo ecosystems as well, as the CMA continues its investigation.