• The Xbox Series X and PS5 prices are still a mystery, but Microsoft just made a surprising move that could turn the Series X into a much better deal.
  • Microsoft revealed that its Project xCloud game streaming service will launch this fall, and will be available free of charge to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers.
  • Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is included in all Xbox All Access subscriptions, and the new Xbox Series X can be purchased under the All Access program.

Microsoft and Sony will soon tell us exactly how much the Xbox Series X and PS5 cost, and when the new consoles will start shipping. Microsoft is reportedly looking to undercut the PS5, with the rumored Xbox Series S to cost as little as $200. But the Xbox already has a significant price advantage over the PS5, one that Sony can’t beat — the Xbox All Access program that lets you pay for your Xbox Series X over time. The program bundles the Xbox hardware with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, and Xbox Live Gold and buyers pay a monthly subscription.

You can purchase any of the existing Xbox models with All Access and then upgrade to the Series X this fall — that’s another advantage over the PS5, by the way. But Microsoft just announced another great Game Pass Ultimate perk for subscribers which makes the value proposition of owning an Xbox Series X even better.

Microsoft’s Phil Spencer confirmed to The Verge that its game streaming service Project xCloud will be available free of charge to its Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers this September.

The streaming service will get a proper name by that time, and let people stream Xbox games on anything that has a screen. More than 100 Xbox Game Pass titles will be playable on phones and tablets, Microsoft says. It’s unclear, however, what devices will support the game streaming feature initially. But making the service free with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is a huge deal. The subscription costs $14.99/month and offers access to those 100+ games and Xbox Live multiplayer. It’s unclear how much a standalone xCloud subscription will cost.

“Over time, we will continue to expand how we introduce streaming as part of the platform, and playing games that you own that aren’t part of the subscription,” Phil Spencer said. “For launch, we’re putting it in Ultimate for no additional cost. We think it’s a good audience for us to start with, and it’s an audience that plays a lot of games.”

While the report doesn’t touch on Xbox All Access, Spencer’s remarks seem to indicate that xCloud will be available for free to Ultimate subscribers. Gamers who choose Xbox All Access automatically get Ultimate, so they should get free game streaming support included with their Xbox subscription plan. It would make little sense for Microsoft not to include the streaming product in All Access as long as it’s free of charge for Ultimate subscribers.

Game streaming might not be a big deal just yet. Others have tried without much success. But trends have to start somewhere. Projects like Google Stadia and xCloud will get better in the coming years. By making it free to Ultimate members, Microsoft ensures that plenty of people will use the streaming product.

With all that in mind, it sure looks like Microsoft will beat Sony on value. Even if the Series X and PS5 end up costing the same amount, it’s the All Access subscription service that could win over undecided buyers.

Chris Smith started writing about gadgets as a hobby, and before he knew it he was sharing his views on tech stuff with readers around the world. Whenever he's not writing about gadgets he miserably fails to stay away from them, although he desperately tries. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.