Microsoft just introduced an ambitious subscription plan that makes the Xbox the best deal in gaming

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Microsoft

  • Microsoft is now offering a far less expensive way to buy the Xbox One: A subscription program called “Xbox All Access.”
  • Starting at $22/month, subscribers will get an Xbox One console, two years of Xbox Live Gold service, and two years of Xbox Game Pass.
  • There are subscription tiers for both the standard Xbox One S console, as well as the more powerful Xbox One X console – your choice.
  • In offering All Access, Microsoft is testing a totally new way to buy game consoles that offers a peek at one potential future for game consoles.

Video game consoles are ridiculously expensive. Even the least expensive used Xbox One or PlayStation 4 is over $200. And a new Xbox One X console? A whopping $500.

The new Xbox One All Access subscription program aims to fix this problem.

Starting at $22/month for 24 months, the subscription program comes with an Xbox One S console, two years of Xbox Live Gold service, and two years of Xbox Game Pass access. There’s a second, more expensive tier as well, which comes with the aforementioned $500 Xbox One X console, two years of Xbox Live Gold service, and two years of Xbox Game Pass Access – priced at $35/month for 24 months. You own the console outright at the end of the 24-month term.

Both plans offer savings over buying the console and services piecemeal: The Xbox One S plan costs approximately $530 across 24 months, while buying each piece individually would cost nearly $650; the Xbox One X plan costs approximately $840 across 24 months, while buying each piece individually would cost approximately $860.

It’s a bold move from Microsoft: The Xbox One is now the most affordable option for a gaming console by far. Even used PlayStation 4 consoles cost over $200 a pop, and Nintendo’s Switch starts at $300.

More importantly, All Access comes with both Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass – Microsoft’s flagship subscription services for gaming – for the length of your subscription,.

You need Xbox Live Gold to play online, making it a must for many on that basis alone. But Xbox Live Gold also comes with additional perks like discounts on downloadable games, and a quartet of free games for your console every month.

Meanwhile, Game Pass opens the door to a huge library of downloadable games from a growing list of hundreds of original Xbox, Xbox 360, and Xbox One titles. It’s kind of like Netflix for gaming, except games are downloaded instead of streamed. You keep access to every title as long as you’re subscribed.

Game Pass is especially important because every major Microsoft-published game arrives on Game Pass the same day as launch, including new entries in the “Halo,” “Gears of War,” and “Forza” series. When “Forza Horizon 4” drops later this year, for example, Game Pass subscribers will get it on day one for no additional charge.

In the Netflix comparison, first-party Microsoft games are the equivalent of Netflix producing its own content.

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In the Netflix comparison, first-party Microsoft games are the equivalent of Netflix producing its own content.
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Microsoft

In so many words, subscribing to Xbox All Access is an all-in-one way to buy a new Xbox console with a ton of games right out of the box.

There is, however, one major caveat: The subscription plan is only available through physical Microsoft Store locations, and not online or anywhere outside the United States. Bummer! Microsoft also characterizes the All Access program as a “limited-time offer”; it sounds like the program is a test run for something bigger down the line.

That makes a lot of sense given Microsoft’s ongoing push with Xbox – the company has been moving away from the traditional game console model, and it looks like the future of Xbox may be in software over consoles.

While the company is currently working on at least one, if not several, new model of Xbox hardware, the overall philosophical approach of Microsoft’s Xbox group has shifted toward enabling players to play games anywhere.

“There are 2 billion people who play video games on the planet today. We’re not gonna sell 2 billion consoles,” Microsoft’s Xbox lead, Phil Spencer, told Business Insider in an interview in June. “Many of those people don’t own a television, many have never owned a PC. For many people on the planet, the phone is their compute device,” he said. “It’s really about reaching a customer wherever they are, on the devices that they have.”

Xbox One X / Xbox One S

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Microsoft

In the case of Xbox All Access, Microsoft is providing devices – the Xbox One S and Xbox One X consoles, both with 1TB of storage – at a far lower cost than the competition. More importantly, the pricing model offers consumer flexibility: People can upgrade their consoles easily.

For example: Instead of feeling buyer’s remorse on that new Xbox One S because you bought it right before the Xbox One X was announced, you could simply go to the more expensive plan and get your new console.

It’s a smart move, and it may offer a look at a new way that companies like Microsoft and Sony can continually upgrade their game consoles while keeping them affordable for customers.