Following an investigation by the CMA (UK’s Competition And Markets Authority), Microsoft has agreed to change the way it handles subscriptions for Xbox. The company will now be required to refund and cancel any inactive memberships to their Xbox Live and Game Pass services.
CMA’s investigation began in 2019 and directs Microsoft to provide “better upfront information” for their online gaming services. Microsoft’s current practice involves offering users in the UK, three months of Xbox Game Pass, after which, the membership automatically renews itself.
The CMA is concerned about the ease of access features that allow users to easily sign up for a service but never details the specifics of a cancellation process. This obscure information leads to cases where a person entirely forgets about the subscription but continues getting charged for the service without realising it.
Microsoft will now offer “more transparent” information to help customers understand their Xbox membership – making it clear when and how their subscription will be auto-renewed, alongside the cost and membership period. The company will also be more upfront about how to turn off the process and how a customer could claim a refund after an accidental renewal.
The company will have to contact all their existing customers on recurring 12-month contracts and give them the option to cancel it and claim a proportional refund. Inactive subscribers will be contacted as well and reminded on how to stop payments. Any increase in prices will also be notified clearly, allowing one to cancel auto-renewal if they do not intend to pay that amount.
“Gamers need to be given clear and timely information to make informed choices when signing up for auto-renewing memberships and subscriptions. We are therefore pleased that Microsoft has given the CMA these formal undertakings to improve the fairness of their practices and protect consumers, and will be offering refunds to certain customers,” said Michael Grenfell, Executive Director of Enforcement at the CMA.
These are positive changes that Microsoft will adopt soon on a global scale. We could soon expect to see these practices being implemented on the PlayStation and Nintendo ecosystems as well, as the CMA continues their investigation.