Xbox Game Pass review

Xbox Game Pass is like a buffet comprised of fan-favorite AAA titles and old classics from Xbox One and Backward Compatible Xbox 360 games. The digital gaming service initially launched in June of 2017, providing unlimited access to console gamers. The service expanded its scope to Windows 10 PC gamers in 2019

In 2019, Microsoft also released Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which bundles console and PC subscriptions along with Xbox Live Gold.   

A comparison of Xbox packages

Both the Ultimate and PC plans include a sign-up discount—you’ll only be out one dollar for your first month. You can cancel at any time, no questions asked. 

UltimateConsolePC
Monthly price$14.99/mo.$9.99/mo.$9.99/mo. (beta $4.99/mo.)
First month discountYesNoYes
GamesUnlimited access to Xbox and PC gamesUnlimited access to Xbox gamesUnlimited access to PC games
Exclusive member dealsYesYesYes
Includes Xbox Live GoldYesNoNo

How much is Xbox Game Pass compared to competitors?

Matching PlayStation Plus, Xbox Game Pass costs $9.99/mo. offering Xbox One and 360 subscribers a library of over 100 previously released games. The gaming service also delivers the latest releases as soon as they drop. Xbox Game Pass members can also save up to 20% on Xbox One games from the current Xbox Game Pass catalog and score a 10% discount on related game add-ons and extras. 

Game Pass Ultimate is your overall best value thanks to its inclusion of Xbox Live Gold. You’ll need Xbox Live Gold to participate in multiplayer online games; buying both services separately adds up to $19.98/mo. Game Pass Ultimate offers the most bang for your buck.

Is Xbox Game Pass the right gaming service for you?

Xbox packages are relatively self-explanatory; if you tend to gravitate towards merely PC or console, you have a package tailored to suit your needs. However, Game Pass Ultimate is probably going to be your cup of tea if you like to play online on both console and desktop.

User experience

You can easily dive into your Xbox Game Pass via your Xbox One console’s Home screen. You can also recommend games to your friends via activity feed, club or a message. 

On your PC desktop, it’s probably easiest to access Game Pass through the Xbox app rather than the Microsoft Store.

Device compatibility

Xbox Game Pass is not compatible with Xbox 360. For PCs, Game Pass requires Windows 1903 (or greater) along with the Xbox (Beta) app to run. Xbox Game Pass is compatible with the following devices: 

  • Windows 10 PC
  • Xbox One
  • Xbox One S
  • Xbox One X

Xbox Game Pass features

The team at Xbox is known for listening to its subscriber base and providing features they want. Here are a few that have made Xbox Game Pass an integral part of the Xbox gamer experience.

Online vs. offline gaming

Most games with campaign mode can be played offline. However, games with network co-op or multiplayer features require online access. 

Family sharing

Create multiple personalized accounts for family members, customize safety settings for children and access profiles both at home or at a friend’s.

Find your friends

You can find your friends across multiple platforms like Facebook and Steam, while also connecting to YouTube, Twitch and Reddit. 

Apps and add-ons you’ll love

The new Xbox app for Windows 10 is available in beta for the Xbox Game Pass’ PC plan. Install the Google Play app to experience optimal performance. And if you want to up your gameplay an extra notch, fire up some add-ons

What to play on Xbox Game Pass

The Xbox Game Pass catalog features popular titles like Dead Cell, Gears 5 Ultimate Edition and Metal Gear Solid HD Edition: 2 & 3. At least five new games drop every month, which provides continuous access to an ever-changing library. 

If you’re curious about what others are saying, Metacritic has a list of the 10 best games on Xbox Game Pass.

Fans of streaming games exclusive to Xbox will enjoy Xbox Game Pass. But you may be dissatisfied if you have a faulty internet connection.

How to sign up for Xbox Game Pass

Interested in signing up? Here’s what the process looks like:

  1. Navigate to the Xbox Game Pass site. 
  2. Click on the Join Now button. 
  3. Select your desired plan — Console, PC or Ultimate.
  4. You will be directed to another landing page. Click the Join button. 
  5. If you have a Microsoft account, sign in. If not, create an account and complete the payment information. 

You’ll have to either upgrade to Ultimate or Xbox Live Gold to get access to multiplayer games. Another factor to keep in mind is your console. Specifically, if you own the Xbox One S. Since this console lacks a disc drive, you’re dependent on digital subscription services. Nonetheless, Ultimate complements this form of infrastructure.

The takeaway

Xbox Game Pass provides subscribers with packages optimized for every kind of gamer. Owners of Xbox Ones or Windows 10 PCs will truly benefit from the Xbox Game Pass, but they’ll receive the overall best value with the Ultimate service. With all Xbox Game Pass has to offer, including monthly games, discounts and deals, you really can’t go wrong.

Zack Kulm

Contributing Writer

Zack Kulm is a writer and contributor of soda.com. He covers a variety of topics from entertainment and gaming technologies to pop culture commentary. Kulm received a degree in English from Penn State University and Film Studies from Pittsburgh Filmmakers Institute. He also produces award-winning documentaries.