Microsoft’s Game Pass service has been revolutionary for gamers, but which membership actually comes out on top?
All Xbox Game Pass subscriptions give players access to the massive games library. Depending on your subscription you can download and play these games or stream them online, with the option of playing them on an Xbox console, PC or mobile device.
This is perfect for gamers who want to branch out and try more games without paying over the odds, but since Game Pass is split into different services, it can be complicated trying to figure out which one is worth your time.
That’s why we’re here, to break down the key distinctions between both Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate so you can decide which subscription will be most useful to you. Read on to find out the differences in pricing, compatibility, perks, games and more.
The standard subscription for Xbox Game Pass costs £7.99/$9.99 per month and can be used with an Xbox console. Microsoft sometimes offers deals on its subscription services; at the time of writing, you can join Xbox Game Pass for just £1, making it even easier to get in on the fun. Although you will need to pay the standard rate in subsequent months.
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, as the name suggests, has more features than the standard Game Pass subscription, making it more expensive in comparison. Usually, Game Pass Ultimate costs £10.99/$14.99 per month, but Microsoft can also discount the service down to just £1 for your first month.
Players that have never used the service qualify for a 14-day free trial for Game Pass Ultimate too, as Microsoft has been pushing people to check out its highest tier.
You also have the option of purchasing your membership from a third-party, such as Amazon or GAME, with some services offering up a yearly membership of each service for a slightly reduced rate.
What can I game on?
Xbox Game Pass is the base tier for the service, meaning that players will only be able to access the games library with an Xbox console. This can be done using an Xbox One or with the latest Xbox Series X and Series S.
Game Pass Ultimate takes this up a notch, as membership holders will gain access to a PC Game pass, meaning that you can play through the massive library with a gaming PC too, with some exclusive games like Total War: Warhammer 3 thrown in for good measure.
You’ll also be able to play Game Pass games on a mobile device, tablet or laptop thanks to Cloud Gaming technology, which we will touch on further in a later section, making Game Pass Ultimate ideal for those who like to game on multiple platforms.
Looking at the base tier first, a subscription to Xbox Game Pass means that players can use their Xbox console to access Microsoft’s giant library. This library features over 100 titles and a fair few Xbox exclusives, including Forza Horizon 5 and Halo Infinite.
Within these 100 games, there is a lot of variation, from fantastic indie titles like Hollow Knight to massive AAA games such as Mass Effect Legendary Edition.
Moving onto Game Pass Ultimate, you still get access to the game 100 games within the standard library, but since you now have access to a PC Game Pass you can play some exclusive games like Total War: Warhammer 3 too.
Moreover, Microsoft has teamed up with Electronic Arts, giving Game Pass Ultimate subscribers access to EA Play. This additional roster features a lot of the biggest sporting gaming such as FIFA 22 and Madden NFL 22, but some other titles like Battlefront 2042, The Sims 4 and Dirt 5.
Xbox Cloud Gaming
One of the biggest differences between Game Pass and Game Pass Ultimate is the ability to use Cloud Gaming. Unlike the base tier, a Game Pass Ultimate membership means that you can stream most games from the aforementioned library at 1080p, provided you have a solid internet connection with a minimum of 10Mbps download speeds.
This is ideal for people who want to game on the go, and since it comes packaged with Game Pass Ultimate, players have the choice of streaming games on devices like a tablet or mobile phone, or the more traditional method with an Xbox console.
Xbox Live Gold
You can subscribe to Xbox Live Gold as a standalone service for £6.99/$9.99 a month, but it’s important to note that it comes bundled in with a subscription to Game Pass Ultimate.
An Xbox Live Gold subscription means you can play multiplayer games online with friends and is one of the only services available to facilitate that on the Xbox. This service is not needed to play free-to-play games online – meaning games like Fortnite and PUBG are still playable with a regular Game Pass membership – but it does allow you to team up and play games like Call of Duty: Vanguard and other staple multiplayer titles over the internet.
So if you’re planning on playing multiplayer titles with your friends, Xbox Live Gold is a complete necessity. Since it comes bundled in with Game Pass Ultimate, among some other high-end services, you may want to splash out for the highest tier rather than paying for it as a standalone service.
All the perks that come with Game Pass can also be found on Game Pass Ultimate. This includes access to the library of over 100 games with new titles being added all the time. Games published by Xbox Game Studios are available a day after they release, while subscribers also get access to discounts and deals.
We have already mentioned some of the perks of Game Pass Ultimate, like EA Play, access to Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Cloud Gaming. It also comes with the chance of free in-game content and partner offers as well as more discounts and deals in the Microsoft Store.
Since Xbox Game Pass is the lowest tier on offer, it does not have some of the more grandiose features that come with Game Pass Ultimate. This subscription is ideal for those who want to explore more titles and catch up with any Xbox exclusives they missed out on over the past few years. And most important of all, you’ll need to have access to an Xbox console.
If you want to make the most out of your Xbox console or you like to play on various platforms, then Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is a fantastic upgrade. It comes bundled with myriad features like EA Play, Xbox Live Gold and the chance to play games via PC or mobile devices, making it a more versatile subscription service.