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Xbox Game Pass Ultimate: The best value in gaming
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate offers one of the best, if not the best, value propositions for Xbox console, PC, and even Android gamers. Why? Because for the low price of $14.99 a month, you can play tons of full games, including new titles from Microsoft’s first-party studios, on the day they’re released.
Read more: The best Xbox deals
And that’s just a part of what Microsoft is offering with its premier subscription service. We put together this extensive guide to everything you need to know about Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to help you decide whether it’s right for you or not. You can also sign up at the link below, which currently features a special promo offer of just $1 for the first month.
What is Xbox Game Pass Ultimate?
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is Microsoft’s premier game subscription service. It functions like a Netflix-for-games, with a rotating catalog of games to install on your console or PC. You can also stream Xbox games to your phone or tablet from the cloud with Xbox game streaming, which is currently in beta.
The catalog of games includes all first-party Microsoft games (including new releases on day one) and games from a host of third-party publishers. In fact, Microsoft added the entire EA Play catalog to the console service in 2020 at no extra cost. Typically Microsoft adds 3-5 games each month and removes a few that have been available for a while.
Technically, two Game Pass services are included with Ultimate, one for console and one for PC. You can subscribe to each individually, but each one is only $5 cheaper than Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. That means it’s cheaper to subscribe to Ultimate than the other two separately, even if you wouldn’t use any of the other perks.
Speaking of perks, there’s a lot packed in there. Here’s a quick breakdown of everything included in Xbox Game Pass Ultimate:
- Xbox Game Pass: More than 100 games to download and install on your Xbox One, Series S, or Series X.
- Xbox Live Gold: Required for online play on Xbox consoles. It also includes 2-4 free games every month and discounts on purchases.
- PC Game Pass: More than 100 games to install and play on your PC. It has a separate (but similar) library from its console counterpart.
- Xbox game streaming: Cloud gaming for Android or iOS mobile devices and (starting June 30) 2022 Samsung Smart TVs.
- EA Play: Over 60 EA games, including tons of sports and Star Wars titles.
How does it work?
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate allows you to install or stream any one of a rotating library of hundreds of games onto your Xbox console, PC, or Android device. Although widely hailed as a Netflix-for-games, only the game streaming section is truly instant, and the rest will require some time to install and update.
Fortunately, you can queue up installs using the handy Xbox Game Pass app. The app also keeps track of your games and sends notifications of new releases. It’s also where you start game streams on mobile devices, although this is exclusive to Android for now.
Read also: Xbox Series X review
Just as Microsoft giveth, it also taketh away. Games are frequently removed from the service, but all saved data (and purchased DLC) is retained. You will, however, have to buy the game to access them.
You can also share Xbox Game Pass Ultimate with other users on your home Xbox. This works just like Xbox Live Gold. All you have to do is designate a home Xbox, which you can learn how to do here.
How much is Xbox Game Pass Ultimate?
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate costs $14.99 per month, with no annual plan available. This is still an incredible bargain. Because it combines various console and PC services, you’re saving about $20 a month by getting Game Pass Ultimate instead of paying for each service on its own. Plus, there’s the cloud gaming feature which is only available as an Ultimate subscriber.
You can also purchase one- or three-month digital codes for the service on Amazon. Click the button below to learn more.
Upcoming: Xbox Game Pass Friends & Family
Is Xbox Game Pass Ultimate worth it?
For anyone with a relatively small game library, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is an incredible value. Microsoft is pushing the service hard with its new consoles, and the pricing reflects that. It’s easily the best deal in gaming.
That said, if you’re someone who plays one or two competitive games online, it’s probably cheaper to buy the game and pay for Xbox Live Gold. Likewise, for PC-only gamers, Xbox Game Pass for consoles and Xbox Live Gold are useless for you.
For everyone else, though, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate can’t be beaten. The addition of EA Play (at no extra cost) in 2020 was the icing on the cake.
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate games
Games on Xbox Game Pass Ultimate constantly shift, with five or more new games added every month. These games include brand new titles and titles from the Xbox One, Xbox 360, and original Xbox eras.
A few games also leave the service every month. Thankfully, Microsoft provides plenty of notice beforehand. Typically you can grab outgoing titles at a hefty discount to keep the fun rolling.
To give you some idea of what Game Pass Ultimate has to offer, here’s a small selection of some of the best games to play:
Best Games on Xbox Game Pass Ultimate:
- ARK: Ultimate Survivor edition
- Battlefield V (console only)
- Burnout Paradise
- Cities: Skylines
- Cricket 2019
- Dead By Daylight
- Dead Cells
- Doom Eternal
- Rainbow Six: Siege
- FIFA 21
- Forza Horizon 5
- Gears 5
- Halo Infinite
- Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
- Hollow Knight
- Life is Strange: True Colors
- Microsoft Flight Simulator
- MLB: The Show 2022
- Elder Scrolls: Oblivion
- Ori and the Will of the Wisps
- Psychonauts 2
- Skyrim: Special Edition
- Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
- Sniper Elite 5
- The Evil Within 1/2
- Titanfall 2
- What Remains of Edith Finch
- The Wolfenstein series
Where is it available?
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is available in the following countries:
- Czech Republic
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- Saudi Arabia
- South Africa
- United Kingdom
- United States
The future: Play pre-owned games via the cloud and free game demos
Microsoft announced in June 2022 that sometime later in the year, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members will be able to play a certain number of games via cloud servers that they already own or have purchased that are outside of the Xbox Game Pass library of titles. Also, within the next year, Microsoft will launch Project Moorcroft. It will offer free demos of upcoming games to all Xbox Game Pass subscribers.
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate alternatives
When we say that Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is the best value in gaming, we genuinely mean it. That said, there are a few other competing services that might scratch your gaming itch for a bit less money. Here’s the full roundup:
It might seem strange to start with EA Play since, technically, the service is included with Game Pass Ultimate. However, the standalone subscription is much cheaper at just $5. And if what you’re primarily looking for is sports titles or competitive online games, it’s got everything you need.
A combination of EA’s former services, EA Access and Origin Access, EA Play features a host of sports games and many titles in the Star Wars franchise. Subscribers can also play new EA games before they’re released for up to 10 hours of gameplay. There are plenty of discounts on offer too.
EA Play is available on PC, Xbox, and PlayStation. It costs $4.99 a month or $29.99 a year. There’s also an EA Play Pro service on PC, including EA’s latest games and all DLC for included titles. It costs a bit more at $14.99 a month or $99.99 a year.
Ubisoft also runs its own publisher-centered subscription service called Ubisoft Plus. However, for now, it’s exclusive to PC gamers. US users can get around this by combining it with a cloud gaming service like Amazon Luna or Google Stadia, but that won’t provide the same experience as playing locally.
Ubisoft Plus includes all of the company’s hit franchises like Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, and Rainbow Six. You also get full access to the games, including DLC and early access titles and betas for upcoming releases. It’s the same price as Game Pass Ultimate at $14.99 a month, slightly pricey compared to its peers.
Microsoft’s rival Sony had its own Netflix for games contender in PlayStation Now (or PS Now). However, in June the company is rebranding and consolidating its service under its PlayStation Plus banner. There are three tiers, but two of them will be competing with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. One of them, PlayStation Plus Extra, will offer 400 PS4 and PS5 games for download for $14.99 a month. The PlayStation Plus Premium adds an additional 340 titles, along with the existing PlayStation Now streaming library, for $17.99 a month.
Read more: Everything about Sony PlayStation Plus
Google Stadia Pro
If what appeals to you about Game Pass Ultimate is the streaming aspect, Google Stadia is a decent alternative. It allows you to play games on any screen in your home with no need for any console hardware. The streaming tech is also better than Microsoft’s service, with lower latency, better device support, and higher max resolutions.
Stadia as a platform is free, with games available to purchase individually. On the other hand, Stadia Pro is a subscription service that ups streaming quality and includes a small library of games to claim. Once claimed, you can play them for as long as you’re subscribed.
There are around 30 games to claim right away, but the library isn’t nearly as impressive as Xbox Game Pass. You also can’t play offline, so Stadia is a poor choice for those with a spotty internet connection or data caps. Stadia Pro costs $9.99 a month.
No. Once you cancel your subscription to Xbox Game Pass, all non-purchased games are no longer available to you. That includes games you have downloaded to your Xbox console or Windows 10 PC. Save data and purchased DLC items for any game you accessed via the service are saved. However, you can not use them unless you buy the games.
Yes. While Microsoft constantly adds new games to the service, it also removes others regularly. You can keep up with Microsoft’s current Xbox and PC games list on the official Xbox Game Pass website.
Yes, it does. Ultimate features the full benefits of Xbox Live Gold, including free games every month.
Yes, but only for specific titles in the Game Pass for PC catalog. Game streaming is also available for PC.
While EA Play works on PC, the version included with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate does not. This should change in the coming months.
For pure Windows gamers, PC Game Pass for PC is a fantastic value. It depends on whether or not you want to play online or on your phone for console gamers. If the answer to either of those is yes, Game Pass Ultimate is a better value.
Yes! Included titles often include expansions and DLC, too.
Yes, but only with other users on your home console. It works just like Xbox Live Gold sharing.
Yes. Microsoft does have concrete plans to bring the service to hardware beyond its Xbox consoles and Android and iOS devices. Starting June 30, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate fans with a 2022 Samsung Smart TV can download the Xbox app and stream games from the cloud. Microsoft may add more smart TV platforms to its Xbox cloud streaming service in the future.