Microsoft is changing the name of Xbox Live to the more prosaic Xbox network, a change the company told The Verge will enable it to better differentiate its online networks from the Xbox Live Gold subscription offering.
The change was noticed over the weekend by attentive Xbox Live users:
Dashboard no longer refers to it as Xbox Live pic.twitter.com/nVf0BQ9ABlMarch 20, 2021
"'Xbox network' refers to the underlying Xbox online service, which was updated in the Microsoft Services Agreement,” a Microsoft rep told the site. "The update from ‘Xbox Live’ to ‘Xbox network’ is intended to distinguish the underlying service from Xbox Live Gold memberships."
Interestingly, rumors of a looming name change first came to light in August 2020, when Microsoft "changed Xbox Live to refer to Xbox online service" in its services agreement. The company denied that a name change was in the offing in a statement quite similar to the one it released today, saying that the change to the service terms "refers to the underlying Xbox service that includes features like cross-saves and friend requests."
"This language update is intended to distinguish that underlying service, and the paid Xbox Live Gold subscription," Microsoft said at the time. "There are no changes being made to the experience of the service or Xbox Live Gold."
The Xbox Live name change follows similar recent moves from Electronic Arts, which renamed Origin to the EA Desktop App in September 2020, and Ubisoft, which merged Uplay and Ubisoft Club into Ubisoft Connect a month later. Blizzard tried something similar with Battle.net in 2017, but it was eventually forced to acknowledge that "Battle.net" was a pretty great name to begin with, and switched back.