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Are the new Xbox Game Pass tiers actually confusing? We investigate

There's a lot of reading to do, but do you actually need to be an alien with two separate brains to figure out what Microsoft's done here?

The Xbox Game Pass logo on top of art for some Game Pass games.
Image credit: Xbox

Alright, have a seat. I'd offer you a cup of tea, but that's physically impossible for me to do through a screen, so sorry about that. We're here to talk about Xbox Game Pass, now that we've all had a little bit of time to take in the raft of changes Microsoft has just unveiled to the service. There's a big question to be delved into, and it's not what does this all mean for Xbox's future and/or standing in the games industry.

It's this: are these changes and the revised tier structure they entail actually confusing? No, don't just say yes by default, we need to discern whether — once you've done the proper in-depth reading we all hate doing — they're still confusing, with that being the true threshold of bamboozlement, a phrase I definitely haven't just invented.

Let's start with the new tier that's coming in to upset the applecart in September - Xbox Game Pass Standard. Basically, it's a replacement for the current Game Pass for Console tier, with that £8.99/$10.99 per month tier no longer being offered to new folks looking to join Game Pass as of today, July 10. So, if you've got it, you're good for right now, but will need switch to a different tier once your current subscription expires, with Microsoft having specified that codes for it will "continue to be redeemable until further notice".

Though, once September 12 hits, the maximum extension limit of Game Pass for Console will be set to 13 months, so you won't be able to stack up subscriptions for longer than that once we're past that point. Anyone who's currently got longer than that queued up shouldn't have that particular supply of extensions curtailed by the incoming limit, you just won't be able to go beyond stacking 13 months after that magic date.

Going back to Standard, the big differences between it and Game Pass for Console is the fact it's more expensive at $14.99 per month - which'll be about £11.99 - and doesn't include the day one releases that've historically been Game Pass' big calling card. While it does feature online mutiplayer alongside its library of games, it's without EA Play membership and Xbox Cloud Gaming, with those and the day one releases being unique console-wise to the more expensive Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.

Game Pass Ultimate has also had its price hiked as part of the changes - from $16.99/£12.99 to $19.99/£14.99 per month. As to whether the games that hit Ultimate on day one will all then become available via Standard down the line, Microsoft's not totally committed to doing that, instead saying that games which don't hit Standard right away "may be added to the library at a future date".

Very quickly hitting Xbox Game Pass Core, it's basically the same as Standard, except it only promises "25+" games, as opposed to "hundreds", and also its yearly price has now risen to $74.99/£55.99. Though, it'll still be £6.99/$9.99 per month. For a clear picture of what all three of these tiers that'll be on offer to console players from September onwards at a glance - look here.

However, it's PC players that are getting the best deal out of the changes, as even though PC Game Pass is going up to £9.99/$11.99 a month, it'll still get those day one games. So, if you're wanting to play Call of Duty Black Ops 6 on Game Pass at launch, Ultimate and PC look to be your only two options.

Finally, if you're wanting to check the exact new prices in whichever currency your part of the world uses, this document covers it all.

So, as you can tell by the fact I've just written an entire essay on the changes and nearly given myself a headache doing so, they're maybe not as complicated as you might first think. Prices go up, day one releases become limited to a couple of tiers, and we all wonder why Xbox isn't better at coming up with tier names that don't seem to imply similar things.

The world keeps on turning, things get more expensive, and we all get closer to the sweet embrace of Oblivion (not that one).

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