Xbox Game Pass Raises Prices, Introduces ‘Standard’ Tier | Lifehacker

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Gamers’ honeymoon period with Xbox Game Pass might soon be over. Microsoft’s gaming subscription bundle previously gave gamers access to hundreds of titles, including day-one releases for as low as $10, but price hikes are here, along with some serious new restrictions. The news was officially confirmed by Microsoft today after initially being reported by Windows Central, and puts Microsoft on a more even playing field with competing options like PlayStation Plus.

Let’s just rip that bandage off right away with the bad news:

  • Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is going from $16.99 a month to $19.99 a month, and will continue to get day-one releases, EA Play Membership, and cloud gaming.

  • Xbox Game Pass Standard is a new tier that will cost $14.99. It won’t have day-one releases or cloud gaming, but will have access to the full Game Pass back catalog.

  • Xbox Game Pass Core’s monthly price will remain $9.99, but the discount for buying a full year upfront will now be $74.99 instead of $59.99. Game Pass Core enables access to a small selection of free games, but is mostly a rebrand of Xbox Live Gold.

  • PC Game Pass, which does not work on consoles, is jumping from $9.99 a month to $11.99 a month. Like Game Pass Ultimate, it has access to day one releases, but not cloud gaming.

  • Xbox Game Pass for Console, which does not work on PC, is going away for new subscribers, but existing subscribers can continue accessing it. It remains $10.99 a month, but if you turn off automatic payments and let your subscription lapse, you’ll need to sign up for a different plan. Existing codes for Game Pass for Console will work, but starting from September 18, there will be a 13-month extension limit for much time you can stack on your plan at once. Game Pass for Console includes day-one releases, but is the only Game Pass plan to exclude multiplayer.

Essentially, prices are going up, one plan is being phased out, and a new middle-of-the-road plan is being introduced around where Game Pass Ultimate’s former price point was. The new pricing goes into effect today for new subscribers, but current subscribers have until September 12 before they’ll see price increases. The whole ecosystem is also a bit more confusing to navigate, and accidentally buying the wrong plan could keep you from playing your favorite participating day-one games on release. I hope Activision Blizzard is ready to get a lot of confused calls when Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 launches in October.

The new Xbox Game Pass versus the competition

Game Pass has become the face of subscription gaming since it launched in 2017, using cheap pricing and Microsoft published games, including those from the company’s many new acquisitions, to corner the market. But with these new price increases, it’s not necessarily the no-brainer it once was. Here’s how the new Game Pass shakes up against the competition.

  • The obvious comparison for Game Pass is PlayStation Plus, which starts at $9.99 a month and extends to $17.99. Game Pass’ new pricing no longer makes PlayStation the more expensive option, and with its highest tier, PlayStation Plus offers access to features like game streaming, trials for games not fully included in the plan, Ubisoft+ Classics, and an expansive library of both retro and current-gen titles

  • Included free with Amazon Prime or available standalone for $8.99 a month is Prime Gaming. A more humble service, it gives away free games on a regular basis and unlocks content in other games. It also gives users one free Twitch channel subscription, exclusive emoticons in Twitch, and various other features for the social media site.

  • EA Play and Ubisoft+ might be available, in part, through other subscription bundles, but you can also buy them standalone to get access to hundreds of games across those publishers’ respective libraries. EA Play is the cheaper of the two, starting at $5.99 a month, which will unlock the library and give you early access to select games. Ubisoft+ Classics lets you play slightly older titles for $7.99 a month, but unlocking newer games with day-one access is a hefty $17.99.

  • Nintendo Switch Online is a more restricted option, being stuck on the Switch and coming with fewer games. It’s primarily there to unlock online play for Switch games, but it also comes with a selection of retro titles. It starts at $19.99 per year, making it the cheapest of the bunch—but paying $49.99 for the expansion pack will net you games from additional systems, including the Nintendo 64 and even Sega Genesis.

  • Apple Arcade and Google Play Pass are the mobile answer to Xbox Game Pass, including unrestricted access to certain games and removing microtransactions. Apple Arcade, in particular, is known for its exclusives, being the debut home for titles like Fantasian. Apple Arcade costs $6.99 a month while Google Play Pass costs $4.99 a month.