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Game Pass Ultimate: worth the hype?

After a week and a half worth of speculation surrounding Walking Cat‘s tweet, on April 16th, Microsoft officially announced their plans for Game Pass Ultimate through their official blog. It appears that the rumors were true. Game Pass Ultimate will launch later in 2019 at $14.99 a month. 

Game Pass Ultimate

It’s happening it’s really happening!

In their blog post, Microsoft goes on to say: 

A top request you have shared from day one is to provide an option to get Xbox Game Pass and the most advanced multiplayer network, Xbox Live Gold, in a single membership. We heard you. Today, we’re excited to announce Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate will include all of the benefits of Xbox Live Gold with Xbox Game Pass. That means the full Xbox Game Pass library of over 100 high-quality games, and Xbox Live Gold online multiplayer, in one convenient membership for $14.99 a month. With Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, gamers will be able to play together on the most advanced multiplayer network and discover their next favorite game.

Trouble in paradise

Readers of Xbox Enthusiast will find no surprise in the fact that I became extremely excited about the prospect of this combination. I must admit, however, the longer I have given this combo consideration, the more cautious I have become. Revisiting my previous arguments would help readers at this pointwherein I eventually was able to convince myself to become a Game Pass subscriber.

Within my first piece Game Pass: Make me a Believer articulated this point: “As consoles move ever closer to a diskless design a fear of mine is that the secondary market of used games will eventually cease to exist. By losing this critical component of the market, we could very well see gaming becoming increasingly inaccessible to lower-income individuals and families. While the pricing scheme of Xbox Live and Game Pass is not exactly ideal, it does provide a more budget-friendly alternative to try test games without having to commit to the retail sticker price.

The main dilemma

For me, one of the greatest values of the Game Pass subscription model is its flexibility. On months where you find the offerings, not to your liking, or need to watch the budget a bit closer you can discontinue the service. By bundling the services together players are locked into paying for the service whether you play the games or not. While bundling makes paying easier, it ultimately has given Microsoft more money for less control.  Why would I sacrifice the ability to pause a service simply to the number of transactions on a credit card? Especially if I am not going to save any additional money by bundling.

Closing thoughts

At this point, I also would like to state for the record that I think Microsoft botched the pricing. Big time. 12 months of Xbox Live runs $59.99 through the game store. Game Pass will run you $9.99 a month. Simple arithmetic will tell you that you have arrived at the exact price of Game Pass Ultimate. For me to feel as if I‘ve received a proper gift from Microsoft I would have expected to have a least saved a little money on the deal. I may just be a little grumpy but even saving $22.99 by pricing Ultimate at $12.99 would have been a nice gesture. But the powers that be have set $14.99 as the magic price point. It should be said that a few select few Xbox Insider community members will receive introductory pricing for whatever that is worth. For the rest of us though, the pricing will be equal to that of the two independent subscriptions. We’ll have to wait and see how it ends up going.

Those are a few of my thoughts.
 How do you feel about Game Pass Ultimate? Am I barking mad? Am I expecting too much from Microsoft? Do you think they got the pricing right? Let me know in the comments below!

Allen H. Mowers
Allen works professionally in photography, cinematography, and marketing. As a lifelong camera junkie, he channels his creative and technical energy into the craft of photography, both in digital and analog processes.He also loves playing games of all sorts, shapes, and play styles. Most days when he's not doing photo related things he can be found playing D&DDiablo IIIBattlefield 1, or something retro. He also is a co-host and producer on the Min/Max Podcast.

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