Microsoft Will Reach Out To Inactive Game Pass Users Due To UK Government Investigation

If you've ever had a subscription to anything – be it PS Plus, Netflix, or Amazon Prime – you have almost certainly overpaid for it. How many times have we got an email at the start of the month, letting us know that we've just forked over a tenner for something we don't even use? And then promised ourselves that we'll cancel it next month since we can't get a bloody refund, and might as well make the most of it?

Finally, after years of consumers spending eyewatering amounts of money on unused services, the UK government is investigating the practice of auto-renewing subscriptions. And now, Xbox is already pledging to make changes to how it handles subscriptions of its Live and Game Pass services. It says that it will reach out to inactive users to remind them that they are paying into these subscriptions, and will even cancel payments if they go unused for some time.

The Competition and Markets Authority, a UK government agency, is specifically honing in on auto-renewal on PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo Switch, rather than the practice at large. The consumer law investigation kicked off in 2019, but an update earlier today reveals that it has had correspondence with Microsoft, and the studio has promised to make improvements to its subscription services.

One of the biggest changes is refunds – and proper refunds this time. Anyone on 12-month contracts will be offered a refund even after renewal, and will get their money back in proportion to how much time they had left on the subscription (so not the full amount).

Microsoft will also get into contact with players who haven't used their subscriptions in some time, and will automatically cancel them if they continue to go unused.

It remains to be seen if Sony and Nintendo adopt a similar procedure. But it is likely that the Competition and Markets Authority will be in contact with them too, so this could have far-reaching consequences for the gaming industry. And fingers crossed, it means a whole lot less of us will be forking over hundreds for services we forget to cancel.

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