Microsoft has recently announced Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which will be a fusion of Xbox Live Gold and the regular Game Pass.
The Xbox Game Pass was launched in June of 2017 offered access to over 100 Microsoft-affiliated titles for around ten bucks a month. Seemingly meant to compete with Sony’s PlayStation Now initiative, the service allowed users to download and play most Xbox One titles as long as their subscriptions remained active. Recently, Microsoft has sweetened the deal with the reveal of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, a service that essentially bundles Xbox Live Gold with the regular Game Pass offer.
For fifteen dollars per month, gamers will have access to all of the features included with Xbox Live Gold, as well as all of the games ready for download via Microsoft’s other service. That may sound like a great deal — particularly for those who already subscribe to the base Game Pass deal and would like to play with friends online — but dubious consumers have already noted that there’s no difference between buying Ultimate and purchasing the base service and Xbox Live Gold separately. In reality, it’s little more than a small quality of life improvement for those tired of seeing two separate billing statements.
The combination of these two felt inevitable, and, for those already doing most of their gaming through Game Pass, the extra fiver for multiplayer functionalities and other bonuses probably feels like a no-brainer. Microsoft is also offering Game Pass for other consoles via its Play Anywhere incentive, though there currently doesn’t seem to be any word on whether the Xbox Live bundle will be available for those playing on other devices. At the moment, that would seemingly raise a few compatibility issues, but Microsoft seems eager to iron out these problems and unite everyone under the Xbox banner.
The new pass was announced via April’s Inside Xbox conference and Microsoft has yet to state when the bundle will officially launch, though it did mention that it’s slated for release at some point in 2019. It also stated that beta testing for the service has already started, so a full release can’t be all that far away.
Those curious about Game Pass can sign up for a three month trial at the cost of one whole dollar, while those already subscribed can take advantage of ten percent off the purchase of any game available through the service.
This is an interesting stance for Microsoft’s gaming division to take; as the top dogs of the seventh generation, it has spent a majority of the Xbox One’s life cycle struggling to catch up with the industry-leading Sony. Allowing players to download well over one hundred titles to their consoles may prove to be a major purchasing incentive in the future, and it seems like this may be a tactic increasingly relied upon by Microsoft as rumors of an optical drive-free ninth console generation abound. It could very well be that subscription services like these are the way of the future as physical media increasingly falls out of date, though some gamers are doubtlessly going to resent that notion.
There are going to be some who find the annual $180 price of admission to be too steep for what’s offered, particularly once the price of a console is added to that bundle. Yet, for those who can’t live without Microsoft’s latest first-party releases, the cost will be covered fairly quickly.