What Is the Difference Between Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate?

Xbox has made a name for itself, to say the least. With all the different ways you can play — on new consoles, old consoles, PCs and now Android devices — you’ll have hours upon hours of entertainment. The Xbox Game Pass or Xbox Game Pass Ultimate can then add to that excitement with their countless features.

The two passes have similar names and similar offerings, but they do have a few key differences. Before buying, you’ll want to take into consideration how much you play, whether you want to use Xbox Live to play online and what devices you use. These factors will help you decide which pass to purchase.

Features and Compatibility

You technically have two Xbox pass options to pick from, but the standard offering has two choices — the PC version or the Xbox console version. With the Xbox Game Pass, you can only choose one or the other to match which device you use to play. If you use multiple devices, the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate bundles them together.

After Microsoft announced xCloud — a project where Xbox users can now play games on their Android devices — the stakes went up for the Ultimate bundle. If you use multiple devices to game and would like to explore the hundreds of games now available for Android users, the Ultimate pass would be a wiser investment.

Both pass options include access to roughly the same number of games. As of now, you can get over 100 games on each pass, with new titles releasing frequently. As a bonus, you get access the games on the same day of release.

In terms of compatibility, you’ll get big names like “Doom Eternal” on “Celeste” in either game pass option. Xbox has recently been coy about some newer titles that are about to drop as well. With hundreds of compatibility titles, you’ll want to check backwards compatibility before you play. 

Each pass also comes with exclusive deals and discounts that you won’t find anywhere else. However, the Ultimate pass does have some exclusive in-game content that the standard pass does not.

Pricing and Value

With over 15 million Game Pass subscribers, these options speak for themselves. They provide the best bonus features for Xbox users of all kinds. Whether you have the older Xbox 360 models or the newer Series S or Series X, the passes have something for everyone.

At $14.99 per month, the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate also includes an Xbox Live Gold membership in the bundle. Outside of the Ultimate pass, this kind of Live membership would cost $5 per month for a year or $60 upfront. Bundling is then ideal for anyone who wants all-around access. Plus, the cloud connectivity extends to gaming on Android devices now, too.

If Xbox Live, which allows you to connect online with friends and other gamers, isn’t something that interests you, then the standard pass may be more reasonable.

For $9.99 the Xbox Game Pass is the cheaper option but comes with fewer options. If you only want to use this pass for one gaming device — your Xbox console or your PC — then the standard is the best bet. Keep in mind, if you’re looking for EA Play on the PC version of the pass, Microsoft has delayed its launch to some time in 2021, with no specific date available yet.

The Verdict — It Depends

Both options are ideal values, so it will ultimately depend on what you’re looking for. If you only use one device, PC or Xbox console, to game, then the standard option is the one to choose. However, if you use multiple devices, then the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate will be your best bet.

Other factors will play into your decision, like whether or not you want Xbox Live. Also, consider the price. Do the benefits of the Ultimate option balance well with your budget? Once you know what you want, you can make the choice and get to enjoying your new gaming experience.