As of now, every major home console offers an online subscription, enabling or enhancing online multiplayer and other goodies. Microsoft pioneered this space with its Xbox Live system way back in 2002, offering access either on a month-to-month basis or as a yearly charge at a discount. The latter is no longer an option.
Previously available at $60, the yearly pass was a significant savings over the 3-month ($25) or month-to-month ($10) price. If you’re hunting for those savings, some prepaid physical cards are still out there, and might be on shelves at retailers like Gamestop or Best Buy. Amazon’s still selling the digital codes right now. But if you want to re-up your Xbox Live subscription directly from Microsoft, it’s either one month or three months.
Microsoft has been pushing its online services hard as of late, for both Xbox and PC gamers. The new Xbox Game Pass includes unlimited access to “over 100 Xbox games” for $10 a month, with an alternate version for PC featuring a different library of games downloaded from the Windows Store. The Xbox Game Pass Ultimate includes all of the Game Pass titles on Xbox One and PC, plus Xbox Live, for $15 a month. Starting in September, it’ll include access to Microsoft’s fledgling game streaming service xCloud as well.
Microsoft may be trying to wean gamers off of the less robust Xbox Live system, towards the less affordable but more valuable Game Pass, as it prepares to launch the new Xbox Series X consoles in the winter. We’ll see.