The rumors are true: You can get yourself an Xbox One and a whole library of games to play for a relatively low monthly subscription fee.
The Xbox All Access program — a limited time offering, according to the official website — gives subscribers two options to choose from. Both of them come with an Xbox One fitted with a 1 TB hard drive and the same assortment of games; your choice really depends on what kind of TV you have.
The cheaper $21.99/month option gets you an Xbox One S plus 24 months worth of Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Live Gold subscriptions. The pricier $34.99/month option is the same deal, except you get an Xbox One X instead of an Xbox One S.
The Xbox One X is Microsoft’s current flagship console. It’s got more processing power and memory than the S, which means games generally run better — with higher framerates and support for up to 4K resolution in games that have been patched to allow it.
The more expensive option, then, is a better fit for homes that have a 4K TV already, preferably one that supports HDR. You can enjoy the benefits of the X model’s increased processing power without 4K — the performance boost you see in games is noticeable, I can attest — but there’s a big price difference here.
For either plan to really make sense, you’ll also want to have a decently fast internet connection. Xbox Game Pass is a great service, effectively giving you an instant library of games to play. But to get those games, you’ll need to download them. An important factor to keep in mind.
One other thing to note: Both of these subscription plans end with you keeping the Xbox. Sort of like how you sign a contract when you buy a new smartphone instead of paying the whole amount — often around $800 — up front. So long as you don’t trade up to a newer model phone, an option that many wireless providers offer, you keep your device at the end of the two year payment plan.
It’s the same thing here: After two years, you fully own an Xbox One. You’ll need to re-subscribe to Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass if you want to keep the latter’s readymade game library and the former’s unlocking of online gaming (you need a Gold subscription to play online), though.
The cheaper option especially is a great deal when you add up all the numbers: An Xbox One S ($299) plus two years of Xbox Live Gold ($60/year) and Xbox Game Pass ($9.99/month) comes out to $660 at retail. But paying the $21.99/month All Access price only costs you $528 over a two-year period.
The more expensive one isn’t bad either: An Xbox One X ($499) plus two years of Xbox Live Gold ($60/year) and Xbox Game Pass ($9.99/month) comes out to $859 at retail. But the monthly $34.99 subscription comes out to a total of only $840 over a two-year period. So you still save, but not nearly as much.
You can’t back out of a subscription midway through unless you pay the full price of the bundle, but you also don’t need to give anything back. The Xbox is still yours, the two years worth of subscription to Xbox online services are still valid.
This is a big move for Microsoft. The cost savings should be immediately appealing to any consumer that’s been mulling a game console purchase, since there’s no upfront cost and, thanks to Game Pass, you have a library of more than 100 games to choose from the moment you plug in.
The biggest downside is Microsoft’s lack of Xbox exclusives. Halo, Gears of War, and Forza are great, and they all have huge followings, as well as promising new games incoming over the next year or two.
But it’s been a long time since Xbox introduced a new big-ticket franchise that wowed the mainstream. PlayStation users, meanwhile, have Horizon: Zero Dawn, God of War, Bloodborne, Uncharted, The Last of Us, and the upcoming Spider-Man game — all of these are either much newer, or much more recently refreshed.
There are still plenty of other non-exclusive games to choose from, of course. And Microsoft isn’t exactly struggling as a company; it’s only a matter of time before new exclusives come along to delight Xbox fans. And given the cost savings that come with an Xbox All Access subscription — it really is a good deal — that might be all you need to know.
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