Microsoft is launching a two-year Xbox subscription plan that lets gamers pay for a console and two online streaming services with one monthly fee, rather than buying hardware upfront.
The Xbox All Access pass will cost either $21.99 or $34.99 per month, depending on the console chosen, and will include access to game-streaming service Xbox Game Pass and online multiplayer service Xbox Live Gold for one price. At the end of two years, the renter will fully own the console. The subscription option is cheaper than the usual separate purchase of a console and both online services.
The subscription plan, which is unique to Microsoft and has been rumored for some time, offers a lower barrier to buy gaming consoles, which carry somewhat hefty price tags.
It's also a way for Microsoft to get gamers to sign on for its online gaming services, which encourage two growing trends in gaming—streaming games, rather than buying them, and playing with others online.
There are constraints in the subscription plan, however: It's available only in the U.S., you have to go to a physical Microsoft store to sign up (and there isn't one in every state) and sign-ups will end after an unspecified "limited time."
But the savings could amount to more than $130, Microsoft says. The Xbox One S plan, which offers the standard console, a subscription to multiplayer-service Xbox Live Gold and a subscription to Xbox Game Pass to stream games without buying them, will cost $21.99 per month, or at least $130 less than buying those three items separately for two years.
Getting the two monthly services with the higher-end Xbox One X console will cost $34.99 per month for two years, still a savings of about $20 over two years when factoring in the cost of all three items.
The Xbox One X usually carries a $499 price tag, the Xbox One S is about $299 and each streaming service costs $9.99 per month, though the costs can vary depending on promotions and sign-up deals.
Explore further: Xbox adds Netflix-style video game subscriptions