This deal seems too good to be true. But it isn’t.
During E3 this week, Microsoft is running a discount — $1 instead of $14.99 — on one month of its new Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription service, which rolls Xbox Live Gold (which enables online gameplay and throws in a few free titles per month) and its Game Pass service (akin to a Netflix for games) into one subscription. But there’s a way to make it a lot better deal — and it doesn’t appear to be a glitch. You can basically get Xbox Game Pass for up to 36 months for free.
According to Microsoft’s FAQ, “As an Insider benefit, when you join Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to give feedback, we will apply any prepaid time you have on Xbox Live Gold, Xbox Game Pass or both toward Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, up to a maximum of 36-months.”
That’s the key thing to understand: If you have an existing Xbox Live Gold subscription, whatever remaining time you have left on your Gold subscription automatically gets converted into Game Pass Ultimate when you apply the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate 1-month-for-$1 deal to your Microsoft account.
Here’s what you get with Ultimate:
- Over 100 games to play on Xbox One, with new ones added frequently (see full list of Xbox Game Pass titles here)
- The new , which is currently in beta. (You simply download the Xbox Game Pass for PC (beta) for Windows 10 app on your PC.)
- Any titles from Xbox Game Studios are available at no extra charge on their day of release
- That includes Gears 5: Ultimate Edition, which will release to Ultimate members 4 days early when it hits in .
- “Games with Gold” titles on Xbox (yet more free games, added periodically).
- Online multiplayer support.
How to get the deal
The bulk of this info comes from this Slickdeals thread, but we’ve spent the past few hours trying it out on two different accounts, and it works. But there seem to be so many people taking advantage of the deal that Microsoft’s servers are having a hard time keeping up: We’ve seen some 404 pages, and we had trouble completing the second transaction.
Note that CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of the services featured on this page, and that your mileage may vary. This deal is supposed to be available through E3 (which runs through Thursday), but Microsoft could cut off or alter the deal at any time.
With those caveats in place, follow these steps to maximize the deal.
- Start at your main Microsoft account page.
- Go to the “services and subscriptions” tab at the top of the page — this will show what your currently subscribed to (or not).
- Before applying the 1-month-for-$1 deal to your account, extend your Xbox Live Gold subscription by buying additional months.
- You can get 12 months of Live Gold for $60, although there are a few Live Gold deals out there that can bring the cost down to less than $50 for 12 months (CD Keys, Rakuten and Costco). Some people also have Microsoft Rewards they can convert into months of Live Gold. (Get separate 6- or 12-month codes, but opt for the latter where possible.)
- You’ll want to get to as close to June 10, 2022 as your Xbox Live Gold expiration date to maximize the deal.
- So, yes: You’ve now spent as much as $180 for 3 years of Xbox Live Gold ($60 x 3). But, you would’ve presumably spent that anyway.
- You can get an extra month of Xbox Live Gold when you turn on auto renew (recurring billing) when adding months to your account. You should be given the option after inputting a purchased digital code for 12 months of Gold, for example.
- In your account settings, check when your Xbox Live Gold subscription is due to expire. Again, that’s under the “Services and Subscriptions” tab.
- Once you’ve confirmed you’ve extended your Xbox Live Gold subscription to the desired amount, click on the link for the 1-month-for-$1 for Game Pass Ultimate deal.
- Once that deal is applied to your account, your Xbox Live Gold subscription will be converted to Game Pass Ultimate — and Game Pass Ultimate should be available for the length of your Live Gold subscription. You won’t have to pay anything for up to 36 months.
- After whatever date your Game Pass Ultimate is listed to expire, you’ll have to pay $14.99 a month to continue it.
- You can opt not to auto renew your Game Pass Ultimate subscription.
- If you opt not to continue Game Pass Ultimate, you could go back to subscribing to only Xbox Live Gold.
So, again: You may have spent upward of $180, plus an extra buck. But: Based on Xbox Live Gold costing $5 a month to use versus the undiscounted Game Pass Ultimate costing $15, your savings could potentially be as much as $360 ($10 x 36 months).
Xbox servers seem to be straining under the volume
Again, this worked for us, but we had problems with the second sign-up on Monday afternoon because of heavy volume on Microsoft’s servers. (After adding the Xbox Live Gold codes in a web browser, we had to buy the $1 Game Pass Ultimate add-on on the Xbox itself, because the browser wouldn’t send us a confirmation code (“There’s a temporary problem with the service.”).
So yes, this is a little bit of a complicated deal, but if you’re an Xbox owner and already subscribe to Xbox Live Gold and plan to continue with it, it’s an easy way to get Game Pass for free for a while. Of course, you have to be willing pay out now to extend your Xbox Live Gold service to take advantage of it.