Consoles Gaming

Xbox Game Pass or Xbox Game Pass Ultimate: which is better value?

Xbox controller
Best of both worlds: Game Pass Ultimate offers Xbox and PC games

Shortly before Christmas, I was lulled in. With lockdown in full swing and no family to visit over Christmas, I signed up for the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate – giving me access to a decent library of Xbox and PC games for a monthly subscription fee.

But when the introductory discount offer expired, I had a decision to make: stick with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate or downgrade to the cheaper Xbox Game Pass for the console only. I don’t play many games on the PC, so the cheaper package seemed like the best option. However, it’s not that straightforward.

Below, I’ll discuss the factors you need to take into account when choosing an Xbox Games Pass subscription package and why I ended up staying on Xbox Games Pass Ultimate.

What’s the difference between Xbox Games Pass and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate?

The main differences between Xbox Game Pass (for either PC or console separately) or Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (which gives you access to both PC and console games) are detailed in the table below.

PACKAGEULTIMATEPCXBOX
PRICE£10.99 per month£7.99 per month£7.99 per month
WHAT’S INCLUDED100+ PC and console games100+ PC games100+ console games
EA Play games and content
Xbox Live Gold
Stream to Android devices

The most eye-catching extra in the Ultimate package is the inclusion of Xbox Live Gold. Basically, to play the majority of online games, you will need an Xbox Live Gold subscription, which isn’t included with the regular Xbox Games Pass.

Microsoft cheekily claims the Xbox Live Gold subscription alone is worth £6.99 per month, which may be true if you pay monthly direct from Microsoft, but you can often pick up discounts online that mean a 12-month Xbox Live Gold subscription can be found for £40 or less.

Nevertheless, given that the annual difference between an Xbox Games Pass Ultimate subscription and a regular Xbox Games Pass is £36 (£132 versus £96), you might as well upgrade to Ultimate. After all, this means you benefit from mobile stream and the EA Play games; think last year’s sports titles and various games from the Star Wars catalogue.

The only reason the cheaper Game Pass makes sense is if you never bother with games that require Xbox Live. It’s worth pointing out that Microsoft recently dropped the requirement to have an Xbox Live Gold subscription to play multiplayer in free-to-play games such as Fortnite and Rocket League.

One more thing…

If you’ve just stumped up to renew your annual Xbox Live Gold subscription and are now worried you’re effectively going to be paying twice for the same thing if you opt for Ultimate, relax. Microsoft takes into account credit remaining on your Xbox Live Gold subscription and applies it to your Xbox Game Pass Ultimate billing.

Consequently, even though I signed up for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate in late December, I won’t pay my first month’s subscription until early June, as I’d only just renewed Xbox Live Gold for a year.

I’m not sure how this would work if you bought your Xbox Live Gold subscription from a third party, however. If you’ve any insight into that, let us know on the comments below.

NOW READ THIS: Can you use an Xbox One controller with the Xbox Series X?

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About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at barry@bigtechquestion.com.

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