What is Xbox Game Pass? Your guide to Xbox's Netflix for gaming

By Heidi Nicholas,
What is Xbox Game Pass

If you're new to Xbox, you've probably heard about Microsoft's big Netflix-style subscription service and its promise of hundreds of games that you can download straight to your hard drive. But what is Xbox Game Pass? For that matter, what is Xbox Game Pass Ultimate? Or Xbox Game Pass for PC? It can be a little confusing to the outsider. We're here to let you know what it all means and, ultimately (no pun intended), how Xbox Game Pass works as a service. We'll keep this guide updated with the latest Xbox Game Pass news as we hear about it.

This guide is part of a series aimed at first time Xbox owners. TrueAchievements is the largest Xbox community site on the internet, allowing players to track their gaming achievements, discuss strategies and compete in contests and leaderboards. Once you have set yourself up on Xbox, you can register with us for free using your gamertag.

What is Xbox Game Pass?

Xbox Game Pass is a subscription service for games, often described as "Netflix for games". It exists alongside other similar subscriptions, such as Sony's PlayStation Now. It also used to exist alongside EA Access, until this service was renamed EA Play and brought under the Xbox Game Pass banner earlier this year for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members, although it's still not available for Xbox Game Pass for PC — more on that later. You have access to all of the games in the Xbox Game Pass service, and can download them all, but you can't stream them. This is a direct contrast to PlayStation Now, which used to be purely a streaming service letting games be played instantly without downloading anything, but is now starting to allow some games to be downloaded. Downloading titles isn't really a bad price to pay for all of the games you have at your fingertips in Game Pass, including both Xbox Game Studios games and games from external studios.

What games can I get with it?

Xbox Game Pass usually has hundreds of Xbox One and Xbox 360 backwards compatible games. Xbox's big exclusives are included, such as Sea of Thieves, and the Gears and Halo franchises. Games from Microsoft's 15 Xbox Game Studios, such as Ninja Theory, Double Fine and Playground Games, come straight to Xbox Game Pass on release. Microsoft announces new titles each month, along with those which are leaving, and there's nearly always a few surprise additions mid-month. We've got a full list of all the games in Xbox Game Pass here, which is regularly updated, along with all of the Xbox Game Pass news here, which you can check for details on which titles are coming to and leaving Game Pass.


How does Xbox Game Pass work?

On top of the hundreds of games already in Xbox Game Pass, there are several new titles are added every month, with a few other titles gradually being rotated out as the new ones arrive. Once you're a Game Pass member, you can see all of the titles available to download, under the "Ready to install" and "Game Pass" tabs. It is a bit like Netflix; overwhelming at first, and you might spend the first few times flicking through all of the games available in an attempt to choose what one to try first. Once you've taken the plunge and picked a few, you can download them into your library, and once downloaded, they'll show up under "My games and apps". You'll then have access to the game for the entirety of its time on the Xbox Game Pass service. There's a "Leaving Game Pass soon" tab to help you keep track of what might be leaving, and we make sure to publish articles each time games are leaving the service. Once they're gone, they can't be loaded unless you then purchase the game from the Microsoft Store;.

What other benefits are there to Xbox Game Pass subscribers?

An Xbox Game Pass subscription also gets you member discounts and deals. So if you're playing a game through the service and decide to buy it for yourself, to keep even if it leaves Xbox Game Pass (or if you unsubscribe), you'll be able to do so at a discount of up to 20% off, or up to 10% off DLCs.

How much does Xbox Game Pass cost?

Xbox Game Pass usually costs £7.99/$9.99 per month, or £10.99/$14.99 per month for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (£32.99/$44.99 every three months). However, Microsoft is currently offering a deal where you can get three months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for £1/$1, which is 91% off and 93% off respectively.

Ultimate 3 Months

Ultimate 3 Months

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate includes over 100 high-quality games for console, PC, phones and tablets, all the benefits of Xbox Live Gold, and an EA Play membership, all for one low monthly price. Play together with friends and discover your next favorite game. See more below.

After any promotional period, subscription continues to be charged at the then-current regular price (subject to change), unless cancelled. Plus applicable taxes.

Joining Xbox Game Pass Ultimate will upgrade your remaining Xbox Live Gold or Xbox Game Pass for Console or Xbox Game Pass for PC time into Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for the same amount of time, up to 36 months. All conversions are final. See xbox.com/gamepass for details.

See Xbox Game Pass Ultimate terms and details in the Product Description below.

What is Xbox Game Pass Ultimate?

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate combines Xbox Game Pass, Xbox Game Pass for PC, and Xbox Live Gold into one bundle, along with the entire EA Play catalogue. It means that there's a plan for everyone; for those who want to be able to choose a plan to fit what they want to play on specifically, or for those who want everything at once instead of buying it separately, so that they have access to Xbox Game Pass on console and PC, as well as Live Gold. Live Gold has a value of £6.99 a month, and gives access to the online multiplayer network. So if you just want access to the Game Pass games on your Xbox, you can get Xbox Game Pass. If you want to be able to access Game Pass on both console and PC, and have access to the online benefits of Live Gold, you can get them all together in Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. There are a number of benefits to Xbox Live Gold including free games every month.

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate

Wait, what about Xbox Game Pass for PC?

Xbox Game Pass for PC is much the same as Xbox Game Pass. It offers over 100 PC games on Windows 10, and you can see the full list of games for Xbox Game Pass for PC here. The only difference tends to be the games released for the service each month. Usually, they're available for both Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Game Pass for PC, with just one or two changes; occasionally a title is only available for one or the other. Xbox Game Pass for PC costs the same per month as Xbox Game Pass, but has an introductory price of $1 per month.

How do I cancel Xbox Game Pass or Xbox Game Pass Ultimate?

There are a couple of different ways – check out our guide to cancelling Xbox Game Pass for more info.

Xbox Game Pass for PC

So, a roundup: Xbox Game Pass gets you hundreds of Xbox One and Xbox 360 backwards compatible games for a monthly fee with new games added every month. If you just want access to those games on console, Xbox Game Pass might be the best one. However, if you also want access to Xbox Live Gold, Xbox Game Pass for PC, and the EA Play catalogue, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is the best bundle. The benefits included in Xbox Game Pass Ultimate do tie in with each other; for instance, Sea of Thieves is included in Xbox Game Pass, but requires an Xbox Live Gold membership. If you're not sure about Ultimate, you can make use of the current offer and try it out for one month for $1.
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Heidi Nicholas
Written by Heidi Nicholas
Heidi graduated with an MA in English Literature, and now enjoys writing news, reviews, and features across TrueAchievements and TrueTrophies. When she’s not writing, Heidi is usually either looking for her next RPG, or trying to convince the rest of the team to hear about yet another delightfully wholesome game she has found.