Xbox Game Pass vs Ultimate: What's the Difference?

Find out what's the best option for you

They might have very similar names but Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate offer quite different services. If you're wondering who wins in the battle of Xbox Game Pass vs Game Pass Ultimate, well, it's not that simple. Both services offer fantastic value for money, providing you subscribe to the one that applies to your situation. 

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate costs slightly more than Xbox Game Pass, so let's dive into the differences so you can decide which is best for you.

Like Netflix, you never actually own these games and they can be removed from the service at any time.

Overall Findings

Xbox Game Pass
  • Available in two forms—Xbox Game Pass for PC and Xbox Game Pass for Console.

  • Offers unlimited access to over 100 games on either PC or console, depending on your choice.

  • New games added regularly.

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate
  • Offers unlimited access to over 100 games on both PC and console.

  • Includes Xbox Live Gold membership.

  • Includes Cloud Gaming streaming support.

If you own either an Xbox One console, or a gaming PC, or you plan on buying the Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S when it launches, then Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate are great options. Both provide a Netflix style service whereby you have access to 100s of games as part of the subscription fee. New titles are regularly added with Xbox Game Studios launching on the service the same day as they're released. 

Both Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate offer good value for money, providing their users with hundreds of games, kind of like Netflix for games. The difference here is that Xbox Game Pass requires you to choose to have this level of access for your PC or Xbox console, while Xbox Game Pass Ultimate provides a library of games for both formats. 

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate also bundles in Xbox Live Gold membership so that console players can play online, as well as enjoy free games via the Games with Gold service. It also offers Cloud Gaming streaming support so that gamers can stream the Xbox Game Pass catalog to their Android smartphones or tablets. 

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate offers a lot more but it costs more. If you simply want to play games on one system then Xbox Game Pass will suit your needs perfectly, while saving you a little cash each month. 

Compatibility: Xbox Game Pass Ultimate Works for More Systems Xbox Game Pass

Xbox Game Pass
  • Choice of either PC or console library.

  • Only works on the one system you choose.

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate
  • Works across both PC and console library.

  • Also offers Cloud Gaming streaming meaning support for Android.

When it comes to compatibility, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is the most varied. It means you can play games on your PC, Xbox One, and your Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S console. It also means you can stream games to your Android smartphone or tablet.

In contrast, Xbox Game Pass requires you to pick one system and stick with it. That's fine if you only play PC games or you only play console games, but it can be restrictive if you plan on expanding your horizons. That's particularly true now that it's possible to stream games to your phone which could be useful once in a while.

Games Library: Extensive for Both

Xbox Game Pass
  • Over 100 games on either PC or console.

  • New games added regularly.

  • Xbox Game Studios games available the same day they launch.

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate
  • Over 200 games across both PC and console.

  • Some games are the same titles across both formats.

  • New games added regularly.

Both Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate's games libraries are extensive. There's something for everyone here. Major titles like Forza Horizon 4, the Halo franchise and the Gears franchise are all available on both PC and console. The games libraries also extend to include many indie titles too making this an ideal way to try something new without paying anything. 

In certain cases, there are games only available for one format. For instance, Microsoft Flight Simulator is currently available solely for the PC while Doom Eternal is only available for the Xbox One. This is changing regularly over time with Microsoft working towards standardizing the catalog of games available. 

In all cases, if the game is in the library and you have Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, you're able to stream it through Cloud Gaming. Also, remember, you don't own these games. Once they're removed from the games library, you can't play them as part of your subscription fee. Fortunately, Microsoft tends to give two to three weeks notice before removing titles. Also, you receive a 10% discount on any games you choose to buy to keep.

Pricing: You Get What You Pay for With Xbox Game Pass Ultimate Offering More

Xbox Game Pass
  • $9.99 per month for one format.

  • Frequently available for less via third-party retailers.

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate
  • $14.99 per month and includes all formats.

  • Also frequently available for less via third-party retailers.

Xbox Game Pass is the cheapest option at a standard $9.99 per month via the Microsoft Store. If you only have one system to play games on, that's a good deal that's in line with Netflix prices.

However, for an extra $5 a month, you get access to the games libraries for both PC and console. You also get Xbox Live Gold membership which is the only way in which you can play games online via your Xbox One or Xbox 360 console. There's also the addition of regular free games to keep permanently via Games with Gold which offers three to four games each month. 

In terms of value for money, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate offers the most features but only if you will actually use them. 

Final Verdict: Xbox Game Pass Ultimate Is the Best, but Only if You Need Its Services

If money is no object then Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is the best deal. Even if you only game on one system, you get Xbox Live Gold membership which is very useful for Xbox One owners, plus you can choose to use Cloud Gaming streaming services any time you want. We'd recommend Xbox Game Pass Ultimate most of all for Xbox owners thanks to the benefits that Xbox Live Gold offer and the fact it's essential if you want to play online. 

However, if you're on a budget then Xbox Game Pass will still serve you well too, as you get access to plenty of games. In particular, if you only have a gaming PC then Xbox Game Pass is a good option as you don't have to worry about needing Xbox Live Gold to play online.