Game Pass Ultimate, 3 months: $28
Save $17 vs. monthly plan
Xbox Live Gold, 3 months: $9
Save $21 vs. monthly plan
Now that it’s finally becoming easier to find the next-gen Xbox Series X in stock (currently available at Microsoft and Walmart), you may be looking to dive in to the expansive world of Xbox games. And one of the most cost-effective ways to try out tons of different titles is with one of Microsoft’s gaming subscriptions. However, there are three different memberships out there, and to help you find the right one for your needs, we’ve broken down the major differences between them below.
We’ve also rounded up some of the best deals available so you can get signed up for less. We’ll continue to update this page as deals come and go, so be sure to check back often for the best prices available.
Gold vs. Game Pass vs. Ultimate
There are not one but three different services that you can subscribe to to beef up your gaming experience on the Xbox, so which should you get? It really depends on what type of gamer you are. You can check out our detailed breakdown of Game Pass versus Live Gold here, but these are the major differences so you can pick the plan that’s right for you.
If you delight in the multiplayer mayhem of online gaming, a Gold membership is pretty much a necessity. To play nearly any Xbox game online, whether it’s running and gunning in the latest competitive shooter or mowing down hordes of zombies with your buddies on the other side of the country, you’ll need to have an Xbox Live Gold membership to do it — with the exception of free-to-play games like Fortnite and Warzone. Gold costs $10 per month, or you can sign up for a three-month subscription for $25 and save a few bucks each month.
If you prefer a single-player experience, Game Pass is a great bargain. Signing up gives you access to more than 400 games from the Xbox catalog. There’s a huge array of games available, from major titles like Batman: Arkham Knight and Back 4 Blood, to small charming indies like Hades and Firewatch. Plus classics from the Xbox 360 era like Mass Effect and Fallout: New Vegas.
There are two versions of this subscription, one for console users, and one for PC users, but they both cost $10 per month. The only major difference is that the PC plan includes a subscription to EA Play, which adds a few more titles to your library, and provides some exclusive rewards and content for select EA games.
Game Pass Ultimate
Game Pass Ultimate is the best of both worlds. At $15 per month, an Ultimate subscription bundles both Gold and Game Pass for $5 less than it would cost to sign up separately. You’ll get access to the entire Game Pass library on your console, PC and mobile device, as well as a Gold membership so you can play games online too. You’ll also get perks like exclusive offers and in-game content, and it includes the EA Play subscription. For all-around gamers who don’t want to compromise, this is your best bet.
Best subscription deals available right now
Unlike the comparable subscriptions for PlayStation, there’s no annual membership plan for either Gold or Game Pass, which makes it a little bit harder to consistently find them at a good value. While deals directly from Xbox turn up occasionally, they’re usually just for new subscribers. However, other retailers and third parties do occasionally have deals on digital codes to help you save some cash each month. Here are the best ones we’ve found that are available right now.
Unless you’re a new subscriber, this CDKeys deal is the best value you’ll find on a Game Pass Ultimate subscription at the moment. Ultimate already saves you $5 a month by bundling a Gold and Game Pass membership, and this three-month subscription deal cuts your monthly cost down to just over $9 per month instead of the usual $15. These codes can be purchased by existing or previous Game Pass subscribers and can be stacked, so you can load up your membership with several months ahead of time at a lower cost.
If you’re looking for multiplayer mayhem, this is going to be your best bet for a good value. This bundle from Best Buy costs $60 for a whole year, which cuts the monthly cost in half to just $5.
If you’re not totally sure if you need or want a Gold subscription, this is a great chance to try it out for a while before you commit to an entire year. CDKeys currently has a three-month Gold membership available for around $9, which drops the monthly cost down to $3 instead of the usual $10. Just note that this deal appears to be exclusive to console users.