During E3 2019, Xbox revealed two new subscription services in Game Pass for PC and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. The first is self-explanatory, Xbox’s Game Pass service now with dozens of PC games instead of just Play Anywhere titles, but the second is much more interesting. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate combines the Game Pass subscription for both Xbox and PC, as well as Xbox Live Gold, into one single subscription for half the price – just $14.99 a month.
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is a decent discount for those who may already have been subscribing to both Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass. And it’s a great discount for those who want to add Game Pass on PC to their Xbox console subscriptions. But Xbox has even better savings at hand for those willing to upgrade to Ultimate, an upgrade path that anyone can use to get Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for up to 3 years at closer to $5 a month instead of $15.
Here’s the deal. Microsoft policy going forward is to allow those upgrading either their Xbox Live Gold or Xbox Game Pass subscriptions to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to convert all of their pre-paid time to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate without any extra charge. In other words, if an Xbox user has 8 months of Xbox Live Gold paid for on their account, they can upgrade and then have that 8 months converted to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. The only limit is a cap of 36 months of pre-paid months.
In other words, if someone currently has zero months of pre-paid Xbox Live Gold on their account right now, they are able to go out, buy 3 pre-paid 12-Month Xbox Live Gold codes for between $50 and $60 from Walmart, Costco, Amazon, or the like, add those codes to their account, and upgrade it all to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. That’s a $15 a month service that cost less than $5 a month, or, perhaps better put, less than a full-priced game at $60 a year.
Here’s an efficient way to go about the process:
- Visit your Microsoft account and verify the state of your Xbox Live Gold subscription within the Services & Subscriptions tab. Remember, there’s a cap at 36 months and any codes that put you above that won’t be accepted.
- Purchase enough pre-paid Xbox Live Gold codes to bring your account up to, but not beyond, 36 months, or 3 years, from now (today’s cap would be 6/12/2022) and then redeem them. You don’t have to go all the way up to 36 months. Whether it’s one, 12, or 24 months, the upgrade will convert all pre-paid time to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.
- Upgrade to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate by purchasing your first month. Xbox is currently offering this at a special price of just $1, but regularly it will be $14.99.
Note that, after upgrading, it’s entirely possible to revert back to standard Xbox Game Pass or standard Xbox Live Gold once all pre-paid time has run out. You aren’t locked into Xbox Game Pass Ultimate forever. It might even be possible to take advantage of this upgrade deal again, as it seems to be policy and not a special promotion.
Microsoft is clearly very excited and empowered to get players to subscribe to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. It’s effectively offering Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for the same price as Xbox Live Gold, and offering Game Pass for PC for free, to savvy Xbox users willing to pay an up-front cost. That Game Pass for both Xbox One and PC include first-party games as they launch, all while potentially costing less than a full-priced game annually, is an impressive amount of potential savings. Though, to be fair, it requires giving up on game ownership in favor of an all-digital commitment.
Perhaps the best takeaway is that Microsoft is providing new and interesting options for Xbox users. Retail copies of games continue to be fully supported by Xbox and that isn’t changing, even going into next-generation with Project Scarlett. But if users want to buy Xbox One games digitally, they can. If they want to subscribe to Game Pass and relinquish access when the subscription ends, they can. It’s all about having choices that best fit what each person wants. Having it be affordable at the same time is just the icing on the cake.