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It seems like everyone is starting their own premium gaming service these days. It can be tough for parents to be able to tell the difference between Xbox Live, PlayStation Plus, and all the others. We can’t let that stand here at EFG so we wrote up a big ol’ guide for all of the premium services so our readers can tell them all apart and understand the costs and benefits of each one.

Take a look below for our guide to Xbox Game Pass!

The Pitch

Xbox Game Pass is a service that allows unlimited downloads of a wide range of games on the Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Xbox Series S for a relatively low monthly fee.

How Does it Work?

Subscribers have access to a roster of more than 100 games. They can download as many of them as they want as often as they want for as long as they maintain their subscription. This isn’t a gimmick or a trap either. Subscribers can download, with very few exceptions, the complete version of every game on the service to their Xbox One hard drive. This means that they don’t have to depend on streaming the games over the internet as they would have to if they were using PlayStation Now.

In addition, Game Pass subscribers are given a 20% discount on the digital purchase of games that are included in the Game Pass game list. They also get a 10% discount on DLC for games on the game list. This is relevant for players who decide to purchase a Game Pass game so they can play it after they end their subscription. One unfortunate “loophole” that you will also need to consider is the inherent risk is purchasing DLC for a game you only have access to through the Game Pass subscription. Buying DLC for a game that you technically don’t own is definitely risky.

Xbox Game Pass subscribers have access to first-party new releases on the same day that they are available in stores! This will add up to a significant value each year as Microsoft is bound to release at least a few games each year. The fact that subscribers will have a chance to play all of these games at no additional charge is a very big deal.

How Much Does it Cost?

Xbox Game Pass vs Xbox Live Gold

Xbox Game Pass has only been around for a year or so, but it is often confused with Xbox Live Gold by people who don’t pay a lot of attention to games.

They are not interchangeable services. Xbox Live Gold is a subscription that provides access to Online Multiplayer gaming and a limited suite of free games each month. Xbox Game Pass gives access to a large list of games for free for the duration of the subscription. Game Pass does NOT, however, give access to online multiplayer gaming on those free games.

It is worth mentioning that both of these services are included in Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.


The Xbox Game Pass isn’t for everyone. It does have a few issues that interested families should consider.

  • Many of the games available on the service are rated M. This won’t be a problem for parents who are engaged and interested in the games their kids play. But, it does reduce the overall value of the service for families where only younger kids play video games.
  • The service is expensive. It may not be prohibitively so, but $120 dollars for 12 months is the price of two full price games.
  • Downloading all those games will fill a hard drive up VERY fast. The biggest drive available on an Xbox One is 1 TB so subscribers will want to put some thought into purchasing external memory so you don’t have to delete games every time you want to try something new. We recommend this Seagate External Hard Drive for this purpose.
  • Games aren’t guaranteed to remain on the service forever. Microsoft hasn’t confirmed that their first party games will remain on the service indefinitely, but I think it is pretty safe that they will remain. But, games from companies like Ubisoft and Rockstar Games aren’t under the same protection. They can leave at any time just like shows on Netflix. Its not all bad news though. Microsoft has been adding new games to the service regularly since it was first announced.

Other Guides

There are a ton of other premium video game services out there so we wrote guides for all of them.  Take a look below:

A Parent’s Guide to the Xbox Live Gold

A Parent’s Guide to PlayStation Now

A Parent’s Guide to PlayStation Plus

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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By Stephen Duetzmann

Editor in Chief Founder/EiC Blogger, Podcaster, Video Host RE: games that families can play together.

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