Microsoft removes Xbox One and Xbox 360 Gold paywall for Netflix, Hulu, and more

Update: Microsoft confirms it's removing controversial Xbox Live Gold requirement for access to streaming apps.

Without an active Gold subscription, this family was forced to play Kinect Adventures instead of watching House of Cards.

Update: It's official! "Coming in June, anyone with an Xbox will be able to access popular entertainment experiences," says Microsoft, "whether or not you have an Xbox Live Gold membership."

All Microsoft apps, like Skype, OneDrive, and OneGuide, will also be available to all Xbox Live subscribers, as well as Upload Studio on Xbox One.

Also this afternoon, Microsoft announced that it will begin selling a Kinect-free Xbox One for $399 starting June 9, and that the company will be bringing its Games with Gold scheme to Xbox One.

Original story: Microsoft looks set to remove the Xbox Live Gold barrier for access to video streaming services, such as Netflix, on Xbox One and Xbox 360, according to a new report on Arstechnica.

Xbox Live Gold costs $60 per year, and is required to play multiplayer games and, for now at least, access streaming services. Gold subscribers also often get earlier access to certain game demos, discount offers, and the ability to use Internet Explorer.

The move, then, would allow users to access apps like Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu. There would still be the respective charges to access each service, of course.

The move, if true, would allow Microsoft to remain competitive with Sony and Nintendo, who both offer access to such services free of charge on the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and Wii U. Not to mention the increasing competition from various electronic doodads and mobile devices, such as Google's Chromecast, the Amazon Fire TV, and the Apple TV.

Microsoft has regularly been criticised for its paywall approach towards streaming apps, and the decision also heavily delayed the release of the BBC iPlayer app on Xbox 360 in the UK.

Arstechnica also suggests that new or existing services may dip behind the Xbox Live Gold paywall to take the place of streaming services, such as the upcoming slate of TV shows from Xbox Entertainment.

Martin Gaston is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @squidmania
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