How much is Game Pass really worth?
Game Pass is touted as the best deal in video games — but exactly how much are you really saving year on year?
This post was sponsored by Lenovo Legion and Game Pass, where you can enjoy three free months of Game Pass with access to hundreds of games on eligible Lenovo laptops.
Having first launched with over 100 current and Xbox 360-era games, Microsoft’s games-as-a-service offering has now expanded to cloud streaming, the PC, and early access titles. And with Xbox’s day one approach extended to Microsoft’s new first-party studios in Bethesda, Activision, and Blizzard, Game Pass’ value has only gotten stronger.
But just exactly how much value are you getting out of Game Pass, against what it’d cost to buy the odd game here and there? And what about those on specialist gaming laptops, like the Lenovo Legion line, or pre-built desktops where online gaming costs nothing and digital stores are offering sales every other week?
There’s only one way to answer those questions: by looking at how many games are on the service — and how much it’d cost to buy each one individually.
Some ground rulesTo make this comparison sensible, let’s establish some ground rules. Nobody is going to feasibly buy over 100 games in the space of a month; plenty will buy a game, play it for a bit and then move onto the next title without ever finishing. So to make this exercise better mirror how frequently people actually buy games, let’s calculate the cost of Game Pass (and Game Pass Ultimate) over a year, rather than on a per-month basis.
If you’re based in the United States, UK or Australia, here’s how much Game Pass will cost:
Game Pass (console only): $9.99/month / £7.99/month / $AU10.95/month
Game Pass Ultimate (console, PC, streaming): $14.99/month / £10.99/month / $AU15.95/month
Game Pass for PC: $9.99/month / £7.99/month / $AU10.95/month
Over the course of a year, those in the United States will spend $119.88 for Game Pass or its PC-only equivalent — or $110.89, if you sign up when one of the many $1 for the first month deals are available.
Game Pass Ultimate has lots of $1/first month deals as well. So in your first year, it’ll cost you $165.89 for a year’s subscription, and $179.88 every year afterward. (If you’re frugal, you can save even more by picking up cheap 3-month Game Pass codes when they go on sale.)
For those in the UK and Australia, here’s what that pricing looks like:
Game Pass (or just Game Pass for PC) for one year: £88.89 / $AU121.45 for the first year, £95.88 / $AU131.40 every year after
Game Pass Ultimate for one year: £121.89 / $AU176.45 for the first year, £131.88 / $AU191.40 every year after
The value for PC-only players will be a little different, primarily because you don’t require a subscription service for online play. There’s also more competition among digital stores, so the prices of PC games are often cheaper, or at least discounted more frequently than their console counterparts. So keep all of that in mind.
It’s also worth emphasising that all game prices are accurate at the time of writing. Video games can vary wildly on price depending on the time of year; it’d cost a whole lot less to grab 5 or 6 titles during Black Friday, for instance. And it wouldn’t be right to just compare games at their recommended RRP given how often games are discounted a month or two after release.
Regional pricing matters, too. While I’ve included the UK and Australia above to give a better idea of the state of play for Game Pass, I’ll be focusing on the cost of US-based games for simplicity’s sake. I also won’t be including the cost of the backward compatible games that make up the Game Pass list: most of these aren’t sold anymore, and pricing in secondhand markets can vary greatly.
How many games are there on Game Pass?At the time of writing, there are 449 games available for console Game Pass subscribers, and 409 games available for PC Game Pass. While there’s a good deal of crossover between the two, there are lots of anomalies. You can’t get Total War: Warhammer 3 or Prodeus on console, because they’re not available there yet. Similarly, most of the Xbox 360 backwards compatible games aren’t playable on PC, because they’re specially coded to take advantage of the Xbox’s in-built emulation layer.
There’s 65 backward compatible titles on Game Pass at the time of writing. Most of these are through Microsoft’s partnership with EA Play, which adds games like Crysis, Dead Space, Battlefield Bad Company, and Mirror’s Edge. But there’s also the older Bethesda and Rare titles too (Fallout 3, New Vegas, Oblivion, Morrowind, RAGE), classics like the original Gears of War trilogy, and the odd gem from the original Xbox era.
But given the likelihood of anyone actually buying physical versions of those games in 2022, we’ll exclude them from the list. That brings the total Game Pass catalogue down about 370, once you remove multiple listings. (NFL and FIFA, for instance, have separate downloads for the Xbox One and the Xbox Series X/S versions.)
All prices were calculated using the game’s current price on the US Xbox store at the time of writing. You might be able to save more for individual games during certain promotions or times of year, but for now, this should give you a pretty good indication of the subscription service’s value. (If you want to have a look at the data, I’ve collated everything in a public Google Sheet.)
How much it would cost to buy every game individually on Game Pass (console only): $10,026.24There are some caveats here. If you wanted to calculate the “true” figure of all the games, you’d probably have to generate an averaged figure for the free-to-play games (Black Desert, Elder Scrolls Online), or games that have such a high turnover of microtransactions (FIFA). Similarly, the figure doesn’t include how much games would have cost when they were added to the service.
But, you might be wondering, what about the Microsoft part of this equation? There’s more than 30 studios under the Xbox banner. And while not all of those developers are working on PC-only titles (like World’s Edge, the team overseeing the Age of Empires remakes), the vast majority of Xbox’s stable is available.
So how much value are you getting out of the service if, for whatever reason, you weren’t interested in Microsoft-only games?
How much it would cost to buy every Game Pass game, excluding all the Microsoft owned titles: $8,201.87Removing Xbox first-party games from the equation really highlights the difference the EA Play partnership makes. It’d cost you thousands just to acquire the NHL, FIFA, Need for Speed, Star Wars, Battlefield, Mass Effect, the DiRT, GRID, and F1 titles from Codemasters, and EA-branded indies like It Takes Two.
There’s still thousands of dollars of value from indies like Slay the Spire, not to mention the suite of AAA JRPGs like the Yakuza series, Scarlet Nexus and Dragon Quest.
But that raises another question: what if you’re not playing on Xbox? What if you’re a PC gamer through and through, or just looking for something you can fire up on a solid gaming laptop like the Lenovo Legion?
For that, we’ll need to work out how much the PC Game Pass library would cost. The methodology will follow the same as above: every game noted down, with duplicates removed, and current prices taken from their primary store (Steam or the Epic Games Store).
How much it would cost to buy every PC Game Pass title: $8,081.91There are a ton of interesting differences in what’s sold between the console and PC versions of Game Pass. While most games make the jump, there’s a whole host of PC-only indies like Raji: An Ancient Epic, EA’s PC classics like Dungeon Keeper and Command & Conquer: Remastered Collection, and the Australian-made Fallout Tactics.
You can see the impact of competition too. Even though PC Game Pass has a similarly sized catalogue, there are more deals available more frequently on PC, bringing the overall cost of the library down.
Even still, it’s still an impressive list. But what’s the value like when Microsoft’s first-party offering is removed from the equation?
How much it would cost to buy every PC Game Pass title, excluding all the Microsoft owned titles: $6,644.32Even if you’re just playing on a desktop PC or a reliable gaming laptop, there’s plenty to get stuck into. The EA partnership adds 71 games by itself, including certified bangers like Jade Empire, Dungeon Keeper and the excellent Command & Conquer: Remastered Collection.
And the indie scene is well supported, with games like BattleTech, Fe, and Everspace 2 — perhaps the best alternative to Freelancer, a Microsoft-published game that’s sadly no longer on digital stores.
So no matter how you slice it, and no matter the platform, Game Pass provides thousands of dollars of value more than the yearly subscription cost. Games will always come and go each month, but over the long term, it’s still the fastest and most efficient way to build up a properly impressive Pile of Shame.