After months of waiting, we finally know about the Xbox Series X's price ($499), the cheaper Xbox Series S alternative ($299), and the console launch date of November 10, 2020. Microsoft confirmed all of this Wednesday morning on Xbox Wire, but two smaller announcements that have flown under the radar will be crucially important to the success of Microsoft's next-generation consoles.
Specifically, the Xbox All Access subscription program lets you purchase a new console at zero percent interest for 24 monthly payments of $35 a month, but this option comes bundled with EA Play as part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. Both of these are incredibly important in terms of the sheer value of what gamers are getting.
Even if Sony prices the PS5 and PS5 Digital Edition competitively, these announcements make it seem like the Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X already offer more value — especially for more casual gamers looking for a lot to play on next-generation consoles — than the PlayStation 5 can match at release.
On September 9, Microsoft detailed via Xbox Wire how the Xbox All Access program would work and confirmed that EA Play would be added to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. For anyone who isn't keen on spending $299.99 or $499.99 on a next-generation console on launch day can instead pay $25 a month for Xbox Series S or $35 a month of Xbox Series X.
Both versions of the subscription also come with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which will include cloud gaming support and EA Play when the next-generation Xbox consoles launch.
GameStop, Best Buy, Target, Walmart, and the Microsoft Store will all support this service in North America. It will also be available in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, South Korea, Sweden, and the UK when the Xbox Series X and S come out in November
As we mentioned, Xbox All Access also includes Xbox Game Pass Ultimate at a cost that's only $10 more than the current rate for the subscription. Game Pass is a gaming subscription service often compared to Netflix that lets players download hundreds of different games through a single monthly subscription. It will be particularly helpful in fleshing out players' launch libraries at minimal additional cost, as it will include several next-generation launch titles like Gears Tactics, Tetris Effect: Connected, and The Medium.
On top of that, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate will start to include EA Play around the launch of Xbox Series X and S. EA's subscription service, while less popular than Xbox Game Pass, is the second-most popular gaming subscription and contains over 60 EA games and trials for newer ones like FIFA 21, which should certainly be appealing for the more casual sports game fans looking to try the next-gen versions of their favorite game.
The service also includes major sports game franchises like Madden, but also Battlefield, Titanfall, Dragon Age, Crysis, Dead Space, and Mass Effect. So there's a little bit of everything included here — especially if rumors about Mass Effect Trilogy remastered edition coming out this fall are true.
For perspective, this strange merger is like if Netflix suddenly also included Hulu.
The fact that Xbox All Access members will have access to so many games on day one is impressive, and bucks the trend of next-generation consoles typically being very expensive to get into. If you're looking to play the most games this fall on next-generation consoles for the least amount of money, Xbox All Access is the obvious best choice.
The long-term value of Xbox All Access is also incredibly strong. While you will end up paying $600 or $840 over the course of two years, that's still cheaper than buying an Xbox Series X or S outright and two years Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for the same period at full price — especially when you really wouldn't need to buy any games outside of what you get through this bundle of services.
Anyone interested in a next-generation console this holiday doesn't need to spend more than $35 this November in order to get one, which is insanely valuable when the PS5's price probably won't go anywhere under $300 and it will still require players to buy every next-gen game outside of Astro's Playroom separately.
There is one major flaw in all of this: Xbox is still missing a killer launch window title. As much of a value proposition as this all is, the game lineup doesn't inspire the same excitement as games like Marvel's Spider-Man Miles Morales or Kena: Bridge of Spirits. It's immensely valuable, but there's no one game that makes it all worth it.
Still, if you don't care much about exclusives and just want to get the most for the least amount of money with a next-generation console, then Xbox Series S and X is clearly the best choice now that Xbox All Access exists and EA Play is part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.
The ball is now in Sony's court, as they have to show whether or not they will compete with these kinds of services, try to release the PS5 first, or just rely on their high-quality exclusives and goodwill from fans to sell consoles.
Xbox Series X|S will be released on November 10, 2020.