Getting your hands on the next-gen Xbox Series X has finally gotten easier (and it’s currently in stock at Microsoft and Walmart). Now that there’s greater availability, it may be time to deepen your gaming experience with total immersion into the library of Xbox titles.
Gaming is undoubtably an investment (this hobby doesn’t come cheap). But there are some cost-effective, budget-friendly ways to try out tons of different titles — and one of the best ways to cut costs is to sign up for a Microsoft gaming subscription. There are three different memberships to choose from, and we’ve put together this guide explaining the major differences between each option to help you find the best choice for your needs — check out our breakdown below.
We’ve also rounded up some of the best deals available, so you can get signed up for less. We’ll continue to update this page as deals come and go, so be sure to check back often for the best prices available.
Gold vs. Game Pass vs. Ultimate
There are not one but three different services that you can subscribe to to beef up your gaming experience on the Xbox, so which should you get? It really depends on what type of gamer you are. You can check out our detailed breakdown of Game Pass versus Live Gold here, but these are the major differences so you can pick the plan that’s right for you.
If you delight in the multiplayer mayhem of online gaming, a Gold membership is pretty much a necessity. To play nearly any Xbox game online, whether it’s running and gunning in the latest competitive shooter or mowing down hordes of zombies with your buddies on the other side of the country, you’ll need to have an Xbox Live Gold membership to do it — with the exception of free-to-play games like Fortnite and Warzone. Gold costs $10 per month, or you can sign up for a three-month subscription for $25 and save a few bucks each month.
If you prefer a single-player experience, Game Pass is a great bargain. Signing up gives you access to more than 400 games from the Xbox catalog. There’s a huge array of games available, from major titles like Batman: Arkham Knight and Back 4 Blood, to small charming indies like Hades and Firewatch. Plus classics from the Xbox 360 era like Mass Effect and Fallout: New Vegas.
There are two versions of this subscription, one for console users, and one for PC users, but the console subscription costs $11 per month, while the PC Game Pass goes for $10 per month. Otherwise the only major difference is that the PC plan includes a subscription to EA Play, which adds a few more titles to your library, and provides some exclusive rewards and content for select EA games.
Game Pass Ultimate
Game Pass Ultimate is the best of both worlds. At $17 per month, an Ultimate subscription bundles both Gold and Game Pass for $4 less than it would cost to sign up separately. You’ll get access to the entire Game Pass library on your console, PC and mobile device, as well as a Gold membership so you can play games online too. You’ll also get perks like exclusive offers and in-game content, and it includes the EA Play subscription. For all-around gamers who don’t want to compromise, this is your best bet.
Best subscription deals available right now
Unlike the comparable subscriptions for PlayStation, there’s no annual membership plan for either Gold or Game Pass, which makes it a little bit harder to consistently find them at a good value. While deals directly from Xbox turn up occasionally, they’re usually just for new subscribers. However, other retailers and third parties do occasionally have deals on digital codes to help you save some cash each month. Here are the best ones we’ve found that are available right now.