Recent speculation that Microsoft are planning to nix Xbox Live Gold subscriptions continues to raise eyebrows, and could be a consumer friendly carrot worth dangling as we hurtle towards the debut of next gen hardware.
With hype for the upcoming Xbox Games Showcase reaching stratospheric levels, it's interesting to see news of 1 Year Gold subs getting discontinued leading to so much fervent theorising. Something like this could easily be dismissed as a technical error, or perhaps a potential re branding that's little more than a graphic design facelift.
But the more we think about it, the more it makes resolute sense for Microsoft to double down on the value of its core services. For the first time in years, Xbox and PlayStation are taking radically opposed approaches to their next gen offerings.
The former is placing an emphasis on cross gen compatibility and its best in class Game Pass subscription, while the later maintains the trajectory that led them to market dominance with the PS4: big budget single player exclusives and a clear generational transition.
For Microsoft then, getting rid of Gold would separate them from the other two big consoles players in a significant way; even though Nintendo don't see themselves in direct competition, they too now have a premium charge for the privilege of online multiplayer.
Sending Gold to the chopping block may force Sony's hand, or simply reaffirm in their own minds that they have a different strategy.
Either way, it would earn Microsoft some much needed good will. They have struggled throughout this gen to justify their early attempts with Kinect, the "TV TV TV" pitch, and their reliance on existing franchises hasn't generated the gains necessary to keep pace with PlayStation.
It would also drive a lot of folks on the fence to consider Game Pass as their go to subscription on Xbox, not least of which because it's such a good deal.
The question Microsoft could pose is if you're already willing to pay "x" amount for online access, and we're about to make that free, there's every chance people would then take a closer look at Game Pass and make the leap.
If nothing else, it would be a statement of intent, that Xbox is a platform willing to evolve, and make bold moves to win over anyone jaded by the Xbox One.
Healthy competition is ultimately a good thing for the industry at large, and this could be another great way for Microsoft to course correct their narrative and come out the gate swinging later this year.