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Xbox Game Pass Ultimate: The best value in gaming

December 7, 2021
xbox game pass ultimate

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?

razer kishi xbox xcloud
Oliver Cragg / Android Authority

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.

Read also: Xbox Game Pass vs Game Pass Ultimate — Which is right for you?

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 phone or tablet. It’s expected for iOS and Windows in late 2021.
  • EA Play: Over 60 EA games, including tons of sports and Star Wars titles.
  • Spotify Premium: New Spotify Premium customers can get the first four months of the music streaming service for free with an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription.

How does it work?

xbox series x review controller on top
Oliver Cragg / Android Authority

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. 

Is Xbox Game Pass Ultimate worth it?

xbox logo series x 3
Oliver Cragg / Android Authority

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

xbox series x halo master chief collection screenshot
Xbox Game Studios
Halo: The Master Chief Collection on Series X

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:

  • Age of Empires I-III (PC only)
  • Battlefield V (console only)
  • Burnout Paradise
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Control
  • Cricket 2019
  • Dead By Daylight
  • Destiny 2 (console only)
  • Doom Eternal
  • Dragon Quest Origins/Inquisition
  • FIFA 21
  • Forza Horizon 4
  • Gears 5
  • Halo: The Master Chief Collection
  • Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
  • Hollow Knight
  • Microsoft Flight Simulator
  • Minecraft
  • Elder Scrolls: Oblivion
  • Ori and the Will of the Wisps
  • Psychonauts 2
  • Slay the Spire
  • Spiritfarer
  • Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
  • Streets of Rage 4
  • 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:

  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hong Kong
  • Hungary
  • India
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Korea
  • Mexico
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Russia
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Singapore
  • Slovakia
  • South Africa
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • Turkey
  • UAE
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

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:

EA Play

ea play
Electronic Arts

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 Plus

ubisoft plus

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.

PlayStation Now

ps5 ps now

Microsoft’s rival Sony has its own Netflix for games contender in PlayStation Now (or PS Now). It has over 800 games from the PlayStation back catalog, which you can either download and install on your console or stream on your PC. You cannot, however, stream to mobile devices as you can with Game Pass Ultimate.

PS Now also doesn’t include new games on day one. In fact, it can take a few years for new games to join the service, which might turn away gamers who want the latest and greatest. It costs $9.99 a month, or $59.99 a year.

Google Stadia Pro

Google Stadia controller leaning on railing

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.

Other FAQ

Q: Do I get to keep all of the games if I stop using the service?
A: 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.

Q: Do games leave Xbox Game Pass Ultimate?
A: 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.

Q: Does Xbox Game Pass Ultimate include Xbox Live Gold?
A: Yes, it does. Ultimate features the full benefits of Xbox Live Gold, including free games every month.

Q: Does Xbox Game Pass Ultimate work on PC?
A: Yes, but only for specific titles in the Game Pass for PC catalog. Game streaming is not currently available on PC but should roll out in the coming months.

Q: Does EA Play work on PC?
A: While EA Play works on PC, the version included with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate does not. This should change in the coming months.

Q: Which Xbox Game Pass should I buy?
A: 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.

Q: Does Xbox Game Pass Ultimate include full games?
A: Yes! Included titles often include expansions and DLC, too.

Q: Can Game Pass Ultimate be shared?
A: Yes, but only with other users on your home console. It works just like Xbox Live Gold sharing.

Q: Will Xbox game streaming be available on other platforms in the future?
A: Yes. Microsoft does have concrete plans to bring the service to hardware beyond its Xbox consoles and Android devices. From Spring 2021, the Xbox Cloud Gaming beta for Ultimate subscribers will be available on Windows 10 PCs via the Xbox app or web browser. For iOS users, the service will be made available through the browser, too.