Xbox Game Pass: What It Is and How It Works

If you’re an Xbox or PC gamer, Xbox Game Pass is a compelling subscription service with tons of content and value. Curious to know what Xbox Game Pass is and how it works? Find out in this quick explainer.

What Is an Xbox Game Pass?

Xbox Game Pass is Microsoft’s video gaming subscription service, offering subscribers access to a wide range of regularly changing titles for a set monthly fee. In addition, some Xbox Game Pass plans also include online gaming services Xbox Live Gold and EA Play.
Subscribers can download currently available titles to their consoles with no strings attached. As long as you keep your subscription active, you can retain and play any game available on the service as if you’d purchased the game outright.
Xbox Game Pass is a solid add-on service for any Xbox owner who wants to explore a broader ecosystem of games. Purchasing over 100 titles at retail price would be cost-prohibitive for just about anyone, but with the game pass, you can sample as many as you like.
Xbox Game Pass is also available for PC, with a different catalog of games.
Microsoft’s latest innovation, Xbox Cloud Gaming, lets you play many top console games via cloud delivery — on your phone, your tablet, or a PC that can’t run the games natively. Of course, if you want access to cloud gaming, you’ll need to sign up for the pricier Xbox Game Pass Ultimate plan.

How Much Does an Xbox Game Pass Cost?

Both the console and the PC version of the Xbox Game Pass cost $9.99 per month in the US. The PC version also includes EA Play, which adds many new features and more content.
There’s also the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate plan, which costs $14.99 per month. This plan adds in cloud gaming across multiple devices. Progress is saved in the cloud, too, so you can pick up on a new device where you left off on another one.
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate also throws in a free Xbox Live Gold membership and EA Play. If you want to play Xbox online, you need Xbox Live, and a Gold membership would set you back $9.99 a month separately.

What Hardware Do I Need to Access the Xbox Game Pass?

To access the console or PC version of the service, you need a current or previous-gen Xbox (Xbox Series X/S or Xbox One) or a sufficiently capable PC running Windows 10 or 11. Which titles you can play on your PC depends on your hardware capabilities.
If you’re an Ultimate member, you can run games from the cloud on a wide range of devices — even if you don’t own the right Xbox or PC. Here’s a list of supported devices.

What Games Can I Expect to Find?

The selection of games available through Xbox Game Pass changes regularly. Some games will show up on the service on the day of release (but won’t stay there forever). Notable upcoming day-one releases include Back 4 Blood, Forza Horizon 5, and Halo Infinite.
Other games (often big AAA franchise titles) won’t show up on the game pass for some window of time after release.
Older games come and go, as Microsoft constantly seeks to drive interest and keep players coming back.
Many cross-platform titles are available on both the console and the PC version of the service, but there are exclusives on both sides. At the time of publishing this post, there were 406 titles available on the console side and 294 on the PC side.
Microsoft maintains a list of all current games, so you can check out what’s available right now. Some of the most popular at this time include these:
  • Minecraft
  • FIFA 21
  • Forza Horizon 4
  • Destiny 2
  • Halo: The Master Chief Collection
  • State of Decay 2
You’ll always find a collection of classic Xbox titles as well. Microsoft even maintains a list of the games leaving the service soon — and offers members a discount if they want to purchase the titles and keep playing.

Is an Xbox Game Pass Worth the Money?

So, now that you know what Xbox Game Pass is and how it works, there’s just one more question: is it worth the money?
For most Xbox owners, the answer is a clear yes. If you’re already paying for Xbox Live Gold, an Ultimate pass is only $5 more a month. For that small upcharge, you get access to hundreds of games.
PC gamers gain a lot from the service, and the new Xbox Cloud Gaming beta is seriously impressive.

Protect Your Xbox Hardware with Upsie

The game pass may be a fantastic service, but you’ll need quality hardware to run it. Upsie protects your gaming hardware with industry-leading extended warranty protection plans — for Xbox, PC, and mobile.
Upsie’s warranties for Xbox consoles protect against manufacturing defects, drops, spills, and hard drive failure. Likewise, warranties for PCs protect against power failure, RAM failure, screen failure, and more. Upsie offers the best protection against a range of potential issues.
In addition, Upsie’s warranty plans cost up to 70 percent less than warranties offered through other providers. This way, gamers can save money while still protecting their gaming devices with a premium extended warranty. Upsie also offers warranties for Playstations, Oculus devices, controllers, and gaming laptops.

Learn More About Video Gaming:

Return to all posts

* This article is over 6 months old and may or may not be updated.