Xbox Game Pass is Microsoft’s monthly gaming subscription service for Xbox consoles and PC, and is undeniably one of the best deals in gaming right now.
Over the course of the past year, Xbox Game Pass has added a range of EA titles to the service. It has also added mountains of third-party games, ranging from the smallest experimental indie titles to AAA blockbusters. Microsoft added the ability to stream Xbox Game Pass titles from the cloud to your Android devices.
The service lets you access a library of Xbox 360, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S games, even letting you download them to play offline. But unlike Sony’s PlayStation Now, Xbox Game Pass also features first-party games as soon as they’re released, along with a host of other benefits and perks.
What is Xbox Game Pass?
For the uninitiated, Xbox Game Pass is a Netflix-like all-you-can-eat video game subscription service from Microsoft. The service is available on Xbox One consoles, Xbox Series X and S consoles, PC, and Android devices as of writing, with plans to expand to the web in the near future.
Xbox Game Pass comes in three flavors. “Xbox Game Pass” gives you access to a large library of games on your Xbox console, “Xbox Game Pass for PC” gives you access to a large library of games on your Windows 10 PC, and finally, “Xbox Game Pass Ultimate” gives you access to all the games on Xbox consoles, Windows 10 PCs, and a selection of games to stream from the cloud to Android devices. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate also includes Xbox Live Gold, which is needed for multiplayer gaming on Xbox consoles.
Each tier guarantees day-one access to almost all of Microsoft’s own first-party games, which is set to expand by a large amount once the deal with Zenimax closes in the next few weeks. Not only will Microsoft’s internal studio titles be accessible instantly on Xbox Game Pass, but presumably, all of Zenimax’s too, including Bethesda games like Fallout and The Elder Scrolls, id Software games like DOOM, and Machine Games’ Wolfenstein.
How much does Xbox Game Pass cost?
The monthly subscription fee for either the Xbox One or PC version is $9.99, which is substantially cheaper than the $19.99 monthly rate for PlayStation Now, the service’s closest rival. Note that this gets you one or the other of the console and PC versions, not both.
If you like the sound of both, the best value option is Xbox Game Pass Ultimate: for just $14.99 per month you’ll get Xbox Game Pass for both console and PC, and Xbox Live Gold thrown in too. You also get Xbox Cloud Gaming, so you can play all of the Game Pass games on any Android device; full access to the EA Play game library; and a 30-day free trial of Disney+.
Given that those would normally add up to $35 all together, this is a pretty massive saving. In addition, Xbox is also offering the service for just $1 for the first month.
There’s no option to rent individual games on either service, but there’s a 20 percent discount if you decide to purchase any of the games while they’re still part of the Game Pass catalogue, with a further 10 percent off any DLC or other related purchases – though that only applies to Xbox One titles, not the 360 games.
If you’re tempted but don’t yet own an Xbox, you may want to take a look at Microsoft’s Xbox All Access subscription service, which is essentially Game Pass Ultimate but with a console thrown in too.
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What games can I play?
Xbox Game Pass has over 100 games from the Xbox One and Xbox 360 on the service at any given time, but the lineup will change over time, with new titles added every month.
Just about all of Microsoft’s own games are included of course, with many major titles actually arriving on the service the same day they launch. Microsoft is working with major publishers including 2K, 505 Games, Bandai Namco, Capcom, Codemasters, Deep Silver, Focus Home Interactive, SEGA, SNK, THQ Nordic, and Warner Bros, so there should always be a decent variety of titles available.
Since Microsoft bought gaming behemoth Bethesda, you’ll also find many of that publishers games included too, giving you access to all the Fallout, Doom, and Elder Scrolls you could ask for.
Xbox Game Pass 2021 review: Is it worth it?
I feel like even the biggest Xbox and Microsoft haters on the planet are hard-pressed to find a reason to dislike this service. For a maximum of $15 a month, you get blanket access to all Xbox Game Studios games, and soon, all Zenimax Media games, all EA games, and various other third-party games, no questions asked.
- Discovering new games
- Saving money on Microsoft and (possibly) ZeniMax games
- Discovering new games frequently
- Streaming games to an Android tablet or phone
- It’s not great for those who still enjoy collecting physical games
- The lack of a family plan can inflate costs in big families
- iOS and low-power PC users are locked out of streaming (for now)
- The community aspects are weak compared to other services and platforms
For anyone who wants to game while saving money, for others who simply want all-you-can-eat exploration and discovery, and for those who want to take their games on the go, Xbox Game Pass is simply divine.
There are features and improvements that need to come before I would describe the service as hitting maturity. The Xbox app on Windows 10 leaves a lot to be desired, for example, and the ergonomics of gaming on a phone have a long way to go. But at its core, Xbox Game Pass is all about games. Games, games, and more games. When it comes to that, Xbox Game Pass is a champion.
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