Microsoft pledges transparency in Xbox subscriptions in Britain

The UK’s competition watchdog announced on Wednesday that Microsoft (MSFT.O) will begin providing more information to customers about how it automatically renews Xbox online gaming subscriptions in the UK.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has obtained commitments from Microsoft to inform customers about auto-renewals for Xbox Live Gold and Game Pass subscriptions, which start at £9.50 per month.

Clearer information will help gamers avoid being charged for services they have stopped using, the CMA said.

“We have cooperated with the CMA to address its concerns and are pleased to have reached an agreement that includes some changes,” a Microsoft spokesperson said via email.

In addition, Microsoft has committed to contacting inactive customers to remind them how to discontinue payments and to provide clearer notifications about any price increases. Existing customers with recurring one-year subscriptions will also be able to cancel their contracts and receive pro-rata refunds.

“Gamers need to be given clear and timely information to make informed choices when signing up for auto-renewing memberships and subscriptions,” Michael Grenfell, executive director of enforcement at the CMA, said in a statement.

“Other companies offering memberships and subscriptions that auto-renew should take note, and review their practices to ensure they comply with consumer protection law,” Grenfell said.

The CMA’s worries about Microsoft’s business practices are the organization’s most recent fight with Big Tech. The watchdog has previously chastised Facebook (FB.O) for its acquisition of Giphy and has lately chastised Google (GOOGL.O) and Apple (AAPL.O), alleging that the two companies are abusing their market position to build largely self-contained ecosystems.

Microsoft this week strengthened its position in the videogame business by agreeing to pay $69 billion for Activision Blizzard (ATVI.O), the producer of “Call of Duty.”