Just yesterday, Microsoft announced that it would be bringing back its "Xbox All Access" program to retail stores. A way to subsidize the purchase of an Xbox One console, the program puts up a good front about being a low-cost alternative to outright buying a new console. It even includes access to Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass in one easy purchase.
Coming in at different tiers that may seemingly confuse people, is Xbox All Access actually a good deal? Would it not be cheaper to grab everything on sale and cut out the contract? Why don't we break down the individual prices of the pieces included in each bundle to find out?
New this year to All Access is an Xbox One S All-Digital bundle. Costing buyers only $19.99 a month for two years, the prospect certainly appears attractive at a glance. While the All-Digital version of the Xbox One S is fairly limited in terms of software, getting Game Pass included sounds like an absolute steal. If we look at the current sale price of the console on Amazon, we'll see that the All-Digital variant is going for roughly $199.99 (which is $50 off the MSRP).
Pertinent to every package, two years' worth of Xbox Live Gold would cost about $120 -give or take taxes. Game Pass is essentially the same as the lowest tier for Live Gold costing $9.99 a month. That's $120 a year, again taking taxes into consideration. Where things get a little muddled is that Microsoft recently introduced Game Pass Ultimate, bundling together Xbox Live Gold and Game Pass for $14.99 a month. Doing a year of that would come out to around $180, which is $60 less than doing the two services separately.
So right now, if we combine the $200 console fee and then the $360 fee for two years of Game Pass Ultimate, the total cost for going with Xbox One S All-Digital is around $560. Doing Microsoft’s All Access plan (which is $20 a month for 24 months), the total cost would come to about $480. That's quite the savings –roughly enough to buy another game and controller. With the offer boasting 0% APR financing for the duration of the plan, not to mention an 18-month upgrade option for Project Scarlett, this path is quite the steal.
If you go up to the next tier, a regular Xbox One S, the monthly fee jumps to $24.99. This one is a little harder to gauge since Microsoft doesn't sell individual One S units anymore. Every option available on Amazon includes a game and goes for a range of prices. The lowest I've seen for just the device is about $140, though it currently can be had with Gears 5 for $249.99. We'll take the lowest price just for the sake of comparison.
An Xbox One S at $140 with Game Pass Ultimate clocking in at $360 for two years comes out to $500. Going with the All Access Plan ($25 a month for two years) will see you paying $600 throughout your contract. It will also have an upgrade plan in place for Scarlett, but that price is a little inflated. Even if we were to take the Gears 5 bundle, it would be $10 more than what you'd pay in All Access. That's not exactly great.
The Xbox One X seems to be the best thing All Access has going for. Typically sold at $500, the One X can be found for $100 off in Best Buy's current Gears 5 bundle. Coupled with Game Pass Ultimate at $360 and that's about $760 for everything -$860 at regular MSRP. If you opt for All Access (which is $31 a month for two years), your total cost will amount to around $744. Also keep in mind that the Project Scarlett upgrade plan allows users to trade in their X after 12 months, meaning they'll be gaming on next-gen as soon as it's available.
The One X is, again, not the most significant of savings, but it does give one the chance to get gaming on Xbox One will little hassle. There's bound to be more deals in the future that drop the price of consoles even further, especially during Black Friday sales. One also has to keep in mind that Microsoft has yet to announce any pricing details on Project Scarlett and how the upgrade path in All Access will differ once users trade up. That $31 a month could skyrocket to $50.
There's also the little fact that Microsoft routinely runs deals on Game Pass Ultimate that see the service offered at $1 a month. While you can't stack an entire year that way, it would significantly reduce the cost of getting Live Gold and Game Pass. Those bundles could drop a hundred dollars or so if one strategically purchases months of Game Pass.
Still, if you're not too worried about the future or just want to get gaming immediately, Xbox All Access isn't that bad of a deal. That it doesn't include interest rates or up-front fees is also a blessing, giving people with fixed monthly incomes a way to pay off a console over time. It's currently the cheapest method of getting an Xbox One X, so that's worth something.