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Since its introduction in 2017, Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass has steadily grown into a Netflix-style subscription service that lets players download or stream more than 100 games. Game Pass reportedly has around 29 million subscribers and generated nearly $1 billion in revenue for Microsoft during the first quarter of 2023.
Plans currently start at $10 a month, but a price increase is coming on July 6 that will see certain tiers go up by $1-$2 a month. Separate Xbox console and PC subscriptions are available, giving members access to a library of downloadable games on either platform. The top tier, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, even lets subscribers stream games directly to their phone, removing the need for an expensive gaming PC or console entirely.
Microsoft continues to invest in the platform by allowing Game Pass subscribers to play the latest Xbox exclusives as soon as they’re released. The company also partners with popular publishers like Electronic Arts, and funds indie developers who agree to launch their games on Game Pass. The same-day releases and sprawling library have made Game Pass a trend-setter for gaming subscriptions, leading companies like Sony to adapt with competing platforms like PlayStation Plus.
To help you get started with the service, we’ve broken down how Game Pass works, how much each of its plans cost, and how it compares to Xbox Live Gold. And be sure to check out our full Game Pass vs. PlayStation Plus comparison for details on how the two services stack up.
What is Xbox Game Pass?
Xbox Game Pass is a subscription service that gives members access to a large library of games on Xbox consoles, Windows PCs, or both. The service offers a mix of classic titles dating back to the original Xbox, along with new releases. Games rotate in and out of the library on a regular basis.
New first-party games from Microsoft — like Starfield, Forza Motorsport, and the Gears of War franchise — are available with Game Pass the same day they’re released in stories. Several popular indie titles and online multiplayer games, like High on Life and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge, have also launched on Game Pass.
Game Pass PC members get access to EA Play as well, which features a slightly different list of downloadable games and trials from popular publisher Electronic Arts. That means you can play games like Star Wars Battlefront II, Madden, Battlefield 2042, and It Takes Two with your Game Pass subscription. Console members need to upgrade their subscription to Game Pass Ultimate to get games from EA Play.
Xbox Game Pass also offers members special discounts in the Microsoft digital store. You can sign up for the service through the Microsoft website.
What is Xbox Game Pass Ultimate?
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is the service’s premium tier. It includes membership to Xbox Game Pass on console and PC, and also allows users to stream certain games on their phone, a computer browser, and some smart TVs. That means you can play games from the Xbox Game Pass library even if you don’t own an Xbox console, gaming PC, or gaming laptop.
For example, iPhone owners can use Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to stream Fortnite, even though it’s no longer available in Apple’s App Store. Members with a compatible Samsung TV can even stream games to their display without any other hardware. However, not every game that’s available on Xbox Game Pass supports streaming.
Microsoft’s Xbox Live Gold, which is required for online play on Xbox consoles, is included with Game Pass Ultimate as well. Members can also access games from the EA Play library on both console and PC.
In addition to special Microsoft Store discounts, Game Pass Ultimate subscribers get extra perks and offers from partner companies like Discord, Disney Plus, and Marvel Unlimited.
How much is Xbox Game Pass?
Xbox Game Pass plans currently range from $10 to $15 a month, but Microsoft announced that a price increase is coming on July 6. On that day, new members will need to pay $11 a month for a Game Pass Console subscription or $17 a month for a Game Pass Ultimate subscription. The price of Game Pass for PC, however, will remain the same at $10 a month. Existing subscribers will need to start paying the higher rates on August 13.
Here’s a full breakdown of Xbox Game Pass plans and prices:
What games are included with Xbox Game Pass?
There are more than 100 games included with an Xbox Game Pass membership; you can check the full list on the official Xbox site, and we’ve included some of the most popular franchises you’ll find below.
Games are typically available for at least a year, though some titles have rotated out after a shorter period. Games from Microsoft’s Xbox Studios, like Halo and Forza, are permanent fixtures.
Not every Xbox Game Pass title is available on both console and PC. Furthermore, only specific games will share progression between the PC and console versions. Similarly, only certain games allow online multiplayer between PC and Xbox consoles. When streaming on a phone or different device, players will stream the Xbox version of the game.
Some popular titles on Game Pass as of June 2023:
- Minecraft franchise
- Halo franchise
- Gears of War franchise
- Microsoft Flight Simulator
- Forza series
- Doom franchise
- Fallout franchise
- The Elder Scrolls franchise
- Age of Empires franchise
- Hi-Fi Rush
- Psychonauts 2
- Sea of Thieves
- State of Decay series
- Bleeding Edge
- Ori and the Will of the Wisps
- Ori and the Blind Forest
- Crackdown series
How does Xbox Game Pass compare to Xbox Live Gold?
Xbox Live Gold is a different subscription service that gives players access to online multiplayer, and lets them claim free games on a monthly basis that will remain in their personal library until their Gold subscription ends. It typically costs $10 a month or $60 per year.
Meanwhile, a regular Xbox Game Pass Console subscription costs $11 a month (starting July 6), giving you access to more than 100 games to download to your PC or console, but you’ll still need a separate Xbox Live Gold membership to play most Xbox games online.
However, an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate membership includes Game Pass and Xbox Live Gold for $17 a month.
Are there deals on Xbox Game Pass?
Xbox Game Pass doesn’t offer discounts for annual subscriptions, but new subscribers can frequently find a deal to get their first month or first three months for just $1. Occasionally gift cards offering three months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate have gone on sale for as low as $30; a discount of $15, or nearly one free month.
Currently, Amazon is selling three months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for $41.66, a 7% discount, and three months of Game Pass PC for $25, also $5 off.
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