Today, Microsoft revealed pricing for its next-gen consoles: $ 299 or $ 499 for the Xbox Series S or Xbox Series X, respectively, starting November 10. But Microsoft is also talking about a smartphone-style program that allows players to get both systems for free money upfront as part of a subscription plan called Xbox All Access.
What’s the deal?
First, let’s do the numbers. With Xbox All Access, you commit to paying $ 24.99 / month (for Xbox Series S) or $ 34.99 / month (for Xbox Series X) for two years. In exchange for that commitment, you get the relevant hardware upfront to maintain, plus a two-year Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription.
Game Pass Ultimate usually costs $ 14.99 per month, so Unlimited’s monthly payments end up a little higher to make up for the initial “free” hardware. But in addition to not having to spend hundreds of dollars in one go, All Access subscribers can actually take the lead at the end of two years.
For Xbox Series S:
- With Unlimited: $ 0 upfront + $ 24.99 / month * 24 months = $ 599.67
- Without All Access: $ 299 upfront + $ 14.99 / month * 24 months = $ 658.76
- Unlimited Access Savings: $ 59.09
For Xbox Series X:
- With Unlimited: $ 0 upfront + $ 34.99 / month * 24 months = $ 839.76
- Without unlimited access: $ 499 upfront + $ 14.99 * 24 months = $ 858.76
- Unlimited Access Savings: $ 19.00
So All Access subscribers save a lot of money upfront and some long-term money on players who buy their console and Game Pass separately. Not a bad deal, all in all.
What’s the catch?
Before jumping on the Unlimited train, there are a few things to keep in mind.
First off, All Access is obviously only useful if you’re interested in Microsoft’s Game Pass Ultimate subscription in the first place. That subscription is already pretty good value, however, providing xCloud downloadable and streaming access to hundreds of titles in Xbox history, as well as over 200 Windows games for PC gamers. A Game Pass subscription also includes all games from Microsoft Game Studios on the day of release and now comes with the entire EA Play library as a bonus.
However, if you’d rather buy your games individually and don’t get stuck with Microsoft’s selection of subscriptions, it’s best to buy your console in advance.
Even if you think Game Pass sounds interesting, keep in mind that Unlimited also blocks you on that subscription for two full years. If you try Game Pass and find you want to cancel your subscription after 6 months, or 12 months or 23 months, you will still be busy for the rest of the full two years of monthly payments. If you want more flexibility to try out the subscription plan, Unlimited is not for you.
It’s also important to remember that Game Pass Ultimate memberships are often offered with significant discounts beyond the list price of $ 14.99 per month. Taking advantage of these offers could save a savvy console buyer some money compared to the Xbox All Access plan.
The last thing to keep in mind is that Xbox All Access isn’t actually available to every Xbox buyer. Microsoft has announced 11 countries where participating resellers will offer the subscription deal during the holiday season, with more slated for next year:
- Australia to Telstra
- Canada at the EB Games
- Denmark to Elgiganten
- Finland to Gigantti
- France at FNAC
- New Zealand to Spark
- Norway in Elkjøp
- Polonia at Media Expert
- South Korea at SK Telecom
- Sweden in Elgiganten
- UK at GAME and Smyths Toys
- United States in Best Buy, GameStop, Target, Microsoft Store and Walmart
Even in those countries, not all customers will be able to take advantage of the Unlimited subscription. Participation is subject to a credit check and credit line approval by Citizens One bank, which works with Microsoft on the program. That line of credit carries no fees or interest and can be terminated early without penalty. However, customers who have had credit problems in the past may find that they cannot get approval for Unlimited in the first place.
Microsoft’s shifted focus
For some time now, Microsoft has said it no longer measures success based solely on the console’s market share for Xbox hardware. “We are not motivated to beat Sony, we are motivated to win as many customers as possible,” Xbox boss Phil Spencer said in 2015. More recently, Spencer said he sees streaming giants like Amazon and Google. ” as the main competition in the future “rather than the likes of Nintendo and Sony.
All Access largely reflects this new goal. Rather than requiring an upfront payment to offset the cost of its hardware, Microsoft is playing long by winning All Access customers in a two-year subscription program. For Microsoft, the loss of initial and overall revenue during those two years (compared to “standard” prices) is a small cost to accustom more players to the idea of a Game Pass subscription.
And Microsoft isn’t just hoping All Access subscribers forget to cancel their expensive monthly subscriptions after two years. A Microsoft representative told Ars Technica: “Once the 24-month Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription included with Xbox All Access has expired, you will need to purchase a new Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription or purchase Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass subscriptions. autonomous in order to continue enjoying the benefits of Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass “.
In other words: Microsoft won’t bind you with an automatic renewal plan that blocks your credit card until you remember to tell it to stop. After 24 months, it’s up to you to renew or deny.
Microsoft seems confident that some of its All Access customers will renew after getting a two-year taste of the service. Even those who don’t, however, will be stuck in Microsoft’s console ecosystem rather than Sony’s, without having to commit hundreds of dollars upfront.
When combined with Game Pass, Xbox All Access is one of the most interesting changes in how we’ve been thinking about buying a new generation of console hardware for a long time. We will be watching with interest to see if this no upfront cost program attracts a critical mass of consumers looking for a new console during the holiday season.