A new family plan for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscriptions is being trialed by Microsoft, aimed at making it cheaper for up to five people to share one subscription, and do so across multiple PCs, consoles and cloud gaming devices at the same time.
The trial is available now to Xbox Insiders in Colombia and Ireland, as Microsoft work out technical kinks and no doubt figure out the best way to price this option.
Speaking of technical kinks… there’s a lot of them. Firstly, Xbox Insiders that sign up to test this will have any remaining subscription converted, at a rate of one month to 18 days of the new group subscription. However, any people you invite cannot convert any subs. There’s also all manner of system errors and quirks to workaround while setting this up.
Who is the Xbox Game Pass family subscription for?
So, who is this for? Well, anyone that wants to use Xbox Game Pass across multiple systems at the same time. Up until now, sharing an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription has been very limited and restricted, with friends and families having to resort to loopholes in the Xbox DRM and ‘Home Console’ set up that has allowed for limited game sharing to be possible.
All users on a Game Pass subscriber’s Home Console can access the game subscription, but only one at a time, and (unlike with purchased digital games), the subscriber can’t then access the library of games on a second console or via streaming. So, if there’s more than two devices and players within a household, it would require multiple subscriptions in order to play together. A family plan would help cut the costs in this scenario, especially in families with two or three kids.
How much does it cost?
From the conversion rate of 1 month to 18 days, we can also see exactly what Microsoft would be charging for this. A month of Game Pass Ultimate costs $14.99, which converts to $24.99 for a month of the family plan. In the UK, where it’s still a surprisingly cost-effective £10.99, that would convert to £18.31, but let’s round that up to £18.49 and cross our fingers.
Of course, all of this rolls on a monthly basis, and I’m fairly sure that there’s a lot of price conscious gamers out there who would rather Microsoft offer quarterly and annual subscriptions, similar to what Sony offers for PlayStation Plus.
Here’s all the caveats and known issues that Microsoft currently has stated for the new subscription test.
Things to know about this preview:
- The people you share your membership with do not have to be Insiders but must reside in the same country as you. Enrollment is limited and will remain open while the offer is available.
- Joining the Game Pass – Insider Preview will convert the time remaining on your membership to time in the new plan, based upon the monetary value of the old membership. For example, a full month of Ultimate will be converted to 18 days of membership for this plan. This way you won’t lose any of the remaining value on your existing subscription upon conversion. Conversion is final, and users must wait for their new membership to expire before returning to a previous membership.
- Conversion is not available for invited group members. Before joining a group, a group member can cancel their existing subscription or wait for it to expire. If they do not have a Microsoft account, invited friends and family will have to create a new Microsoft account and sign in with it to participate.
- Members with Xbox All Access won’t be able to participate in this preview.
- In Colombia, parts of the copy for the preview have not been localized and might be displayed in English.
- Invited members with an existing subscription may encounter an error when accepting an invite. We’re working on enabling these members to cancel immediately to accept the invitation.
- Attempts to upgrade twice within 24 hours will be blocked. For example, upgrading from Xbox Live Gold to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate will work, but attempts to then upgrade from Ultimate to Xbox Game Pass – Insider Preview will be blocked for 24 hours. There is currently a generic error code shown when this is attempted.
- Microsoft account family members will not receive an email when automatically added to a group. Primary account holders can share benefits with Microsoft account family members automatically. We’re working on sending a confirmation email, and family members do not need to explicitly accept an invite to get access.
- A Primary account holder may see a “Something went wrong” error when trying to share directly to two or more Microsoft account family members at once after purchase. Please wait a short time and try again. Alternatively, try sharing via email or link.
- Error while trying to purchase Xbox Game Pass – Insider Preview plan. If you’re blocked from purchase with this error code: PEX-CatalogAvailabilityDataNotFound, please report a problem following the steps outlined in the Insider subreddit here. You may be able to work around this by restarting the Microsoft Store and trying to purchase again.
- Subscription sharing “Get help” link on account.microsoft.comlinks to the support.xbox.com home page instead of a specific support article with sharing help.
- Invitation and group management related emails are currently only in English. We are working on additional languages for these emails.