Microsoft is relaunching its Xbox All Access plan, with a new added bonus tacked on: the option to upgrade to a Project Scarlett console when that platform debuts in 2020. That’s a bit different than what the plan offered when it launched in 2018, but the new plans may prove enticing to gamers who want to experience the best of both generations.
I’ve often wondered how many people actually wait to jump into a console generation near its end. Objectively speaking, a console platform is at its relative best right after the launch of the latest iteration. Prices on the old hardware (and sometimes games) tend to drop, while the game library itself is obviously very close to maximum size. While this approach does leave you playing games years after other people finished them, it’s quite cost-efficient.
The tweaked Xbox All Access program starts at $19.99 for 24 months. Players in the US can choose between bundles with an Xbox One S (original Xbox One), Xbox One X, or the all-digital Xbox One X. Australian players can choose between two different Forza Horizon bundles (one for X, one for S). The 24-month commitment includes 24 months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. Microsoft notes, “While Xbox All Access isn’t eligible to be stacked with any other discounts or limited time promotions, the price you pay per month is dependent upon which console you choose and saves players over $100 dollars compared to purchasing everything separately.”
There is a restriction in place, however — you’ll have to wait a bit. The deal is available in Australia on October 29, launches in the UK on November 5, and launches in the US on November 19. The deal costs $19.99 for an Xbox One S All-Digital, $22.99 for an Xbox One S, and $30.99 for an Xbox One X. The upgrade option, however, needs a bit of unpacking.
Read the Fine Print
If you check the text of these offers, you’ll see some rather careful language. Microsoft notes that you can upgrade to the next Xbox console “after the equivalent of 18 payments.” You’ll be expected to trade-in the console you have been using when you do. That’s important because the next Xbox is expected to launch in roughly a year. The Xbox One S All-Digital has an MSRP of $249 while the Xbox One S has an MSRP of $299. The Xbox One X is officially priced at $500.
You’re going to be forced to make “the equivalent of 18 payments” before upgrading unless you buy the Xbox One X, in which case you owe 12 payments. If you wait to take advantage of the free upgrade until you have actually made 18 monthly payments, you won’t be upgrading until May 2021 (assuming you buy promptly in November). If you buy the Xbox One X, you can upgrade in November 2020.
Upgrading costs $20 and states that “new contract, terms, and pricing apply.” The fine print under the Xbox One X section may contain more details for how MS envisions this going: “Upgrade requires… purchase of a new 24-month Xbox All Access contract for Project Scarlett, expected Holiday 2020.”
MS hasn’t revealed how much those subscriptions will cost, probably because people who take advantage of this deal are supposed to get better pricing on their upgrade offers than someone who was subscribing for the first time. How good a deal this is depends significantly on the price for those later contracts, and we don’t know what that’s going to be, yet. Objectively speaking, the Xbox One X is the best deal on the table — upgrade to an Xbox Next in November 2020, and you’ll have paid $372 towards a console with an MSRP of $500. Take the Xbox One S version of the same deal, and you’ll have kicked over $396 to Microsoft before you are upgrade-eligible, for a console with an MSRP of just $300. Yes, features like the Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Live have objective value, but the console hardware has always been the major draw here.
It’s a clever move from Microsoft that may draw some users into the Xbox ecosystem, even in the Xbox One’s waning years. We’ll see if Sony counters with anything equivalent.
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