Microsoft to increase Game Pass prices and drop day one games from standard tier

Microsoft to increase Game Pass prices and drop day one games from standard tier

Microsoft has announced sweeping changes to the pricing and structure of its Game Pass subscription service. There are price rises across the board; Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is going up to $19.99/month, an increase of $3. And the basic console tier is to be phased out and replaced with a new Xbox Game Pass Standard tier that will not include day one releases like the forthcoming Call of Duty: Black Ops 6.

The changes were reported by Windows Central and confirmed by Microsoft on an official Xbox support page.

Effective immediately, Xbox Game Pass for Console is no longer available for new subscribers. Members who are already subscribed to Game Pass for Console and have automatic payment renewal enabled will be able to continue to use it, including the access it offers to day one games.

Xbox Game Pass Standard will become available to new or lapsed subscribers “in the coming months,” Microsoft said. This new tier will not include day one releases of Microsoft-published games like Black Ops 6, Obsidian’s Avowed, and Bethesda’s Indiana Jones and the Great Circle. But it will include online multiplayer, which is currently not part of the Game Pass for Console plan. Microsoft did not say how long it would take for its big first-party games, or other day one releases, to cycle into the back catalog of “hundreds” of games offered on the Standard tier. At $14.99/month, it will be more expensive than Game Pass for Console, which has a monthly cost of $10.99.

PC Game Pass subscribers will continue to get day one games. But Game Pass Ultimate is now the only option for console players who want day one releases and aren’t already signed up to the existing Console plan. (Microsoft sources told Windows Central that “the vast majority” of Game Pass subscribers are already on the Ultimate tier, anyway.)

Every tier of Game Pass (with the exception of the Console offering, which is being phased out) is seeing price increases. These increases are effective immediately for new subscribers. Existing subscribers will see their charges go up from Sept. 12.

Here’s how the various tiers of Game Pass stack up now, with their new pricing:

  • Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is going up from $16.99/month to $19.99/month. This tier includes day one releases, the full game catalog, online multiplayer, cloud gaming, EA Play membership, and access on both Xbox consoles and PC.
  • Xbox Game Pass Standard will cost $14.99/month when it launches. It will include online multiplayer and access to a back catalog of hundreds of games on console, but won’t include day one releases.
  • Xbox Game Pass Core remains $9.99/month, but a 12-month subscription is going up from $59.99 to $74.99. This tier includes online multiplayer and a small catalog of over 25 games.
  • PC Game Pass is going up from $9.99/month to $11.99/month. This tier includes day one releases and access to the full game catalog on PC.
  • Xbox Game Pass for Console costs $10.99/month for existing subscribers, but you can no longer sign up for it. If you turn off automatic payments and your membership lapses, you will lose access and need to join a different plan. You can continue to redeem codes for this tier and stack them to ensure continued access, but from Sept. 18 the maximum extension limit for the Console plan will be 13 months. This tier includes day one releases and the full game catalog for console, but excludes online multiplayer.

For those outside the U.S., Microsoft has made a full list of worldwide price changes for Game Pass available.

The changes may seem confusing, but ultimately Microsoft’s marketing strategy for Game Pass remains the same: aggressively concentrate the value in the top Ultimate tier, and aim to get most subscribers paying for that tier. But the tactics have changed, with Microsoft choosing to remove day one releases from the middle console tier, rather than online multiplayer, as an incentive to sign up for Ultimate.

Combined with the price increases, it certainly seems as though Microsoft is keen to recoup as much as possible of the revenue it is sacrificing by putting guaranteed sellers like Call of Duty on Game Pass. This strategy is only slightly undercut by the fact that day one releases remain available on PC Game Pass, which increasingly looks like the bargain plan of the lineup.

Approached by Polygon for comment, a Microsoft spokesperson simply confirmed the changes and pointed to the official customer support page.