The UK government is looking into the practice of auto-renewing subscriptions. And now, Xbox is already promising changes to how it handles subscriptions to its Live and Game Pass services. It says that it will contact inactive users to remind them that they are paying for these subscriptions and even cancel payments if they have not been used for some time.
The Competition and Markets Authority, a UK government agency, focuses on auto-renewal on PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo Switch rather than the practice in general. The consumer protection law investigation began in 2019, but today’s update reveals that he had a correspondence with Microsoft and the studio promised to improve its subscription services.
One of the biggest changes is refunds – and this time, proper refunds. Anyone with 12-month subscriptions will be offered a refund even after renewal and will receive their money in inverse proportion to how much time they have left to subscribe (i.e. not the full amount).
Microsoft will also contact players who have not used their subscriptions for some time and automatically cancel them if they continue to be unused.
It remains to be seen if Sony and Nintendo will adopt a similar procedure. But it is likely that the Competition and Markets Authority will contact them as well, so this could have far-reaching implications for the gaming industry. Which could mean that far fewer people will pay for services they don’t use.