So consoles as a service are a thing in Australia. And if you don't want to pay any upfront cost then maybe a once a month payment is actually a good deal.
But it's not the cheapest way to grab a console in the long term, especially when we don't know what the cost of Project Scarlett is like. So instead of paying several hundred dollars or more over the long term, here's all the other options available.
Ever felt the cost of consoles was too much? Well, now you'll be able to buy consoles like a mobile phone, with Xbox launching a new subscription model called "Xbox All Access" in Australia, the United States and the UK.
Xbox Game Pass
The big hook for families especially around Christmas is Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. Instead of forking out a ton of money for one game, they can just fork out a single payment for one service that has all of them.
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is relatively cheap. If you're looking at the equivalent of what's being offered in Xbox All Access, it's $15.95 a month which comes with Xbox Live Gold for free (which is otherwise a necessary $10.95/month fee for online play).
If online play isn't something you want with your Xbox, you can get access to all the games for a little cheaper. Xbox Game Pass on console is available for $10.95 a month, and has access to the same library as Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. You can't play any of the games on PC (and the PC library is a little truncated anyway), but if you're looking to save every dollar possible, that's another option.
So at most, access to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate with online play will set you back $191.40 a year. If you factor in the $1/month introductory discount, that's $176.45 for the first 12 months and then $191.40 for the next 12, bringing the total cost for 24 months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to $367.85. And given that most people will want a console with access to online multiplayer, especially families, I'm just going to factor in the cost of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate from here on.
Xbox All Access
There's no All Digital Edition version available in Australia, so the prices are pretty simple. If you get the Xbox One S All Access deal, you'll pay $27 a month or $648 over two years. For the Xbox One X, you're looking at $38/month, or $912 over two years.
The Xbox All Access program has three options in the US and UK, but for Australians its just two. You can either get an Xbox One S bundle or an Xbox One X bundle, both of which come with the basic single controller, a Forza Horizon 4 code, and the Xbox Pass/Xbox Live benefits around that.
All console bundles, however, will have the same hardware. So the cost of buying a separate controller is moot, because you'd never have to buy a controller with a console unless you specifically wanted a second one.
Let's start with the Xbox One S.
EB Games has a separate deal for $349 that comes with The Outer Worlds, Overwatch and Forza Horizon 4 plus the DLC for $349, which seems like a much better value depending on how much mileage you'll get from Overwatch (because you can get The Outer Worlds through Xbox Game Pass). Microsoft has a $349 option as well if you want the entire Gears franchise, but it doesn't come with an extra month of Xbox Game Pass (console only) or Xbox Live Gold. The NBA 2K20 and Forza Horizon bundles do.
Either way, the cost of that with a single year of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate would set you back $525.45. Another year of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate on top would bring the total cost to $716.85 over 24 months.
But what if you want an Xbox One X?
Microsoft's "native 4K" console has remained relatively expensive since its introduction a couple of years ago. Most bundles have hovered around the $500 mark, save for the Black Friday period last year where prices dropped a little below that.
Right now, about $500 is the regular price for a bundle. JB are selling the 1TB Xbox One X by itself with a controller for $459. There's a 40 percent discount for three months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate as well, but we'll get back to that.
If you want a more traditional bundle, around $499 is the price. Amazon has a deal with a Division 2 token for $475, but the EB Games deal comes with Modern Warfare, Overwatch and Forza Horizon 4 plus the DLC for $499 is the better value, given the first two games aren't accessible through Xbox Game Pass. If you like shooters, BIG W has a deal with The Division 2 and Modern Warfare that's pretty good.
The Microsoft Store also has a $499 bundle that has NBA 2K20, a choice of a code for Modern Warfare and The Outer Worlds, a month-long trial of Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Live Gold, as well as Gears of War Ultimate Edition, and Gears 2, 3 and 4.
Let's just start with the lowest price, the $459 from JB Hi-Fi. An extra month of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate on that brings the cost after a year to $635.45. If you keep the Xbox One X for two years and your Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription, the total cost comes to $826.85. If you want a couple of games from the outset and the $499 bundles appeal, then you're looking at $675.45 after the first year and $866.85 after 24 months.
But What About Project Scarlett?
The Xbox All Access program works out a fraction cheaper if you're looking to get an Xbox and a ton of games for the cheapest possible price, and you're not overly concerned with playing at 4K, or upgrading to Project Scarlett in the next 12 months, then this is actually a good deal.
Of course, most gamers already have an Xbox. And a lot of families, particularly younger ones, will undoubtedly know that another Xbox is on the horizon. If you buy into Xbox All Access now, and you want to upgrade when Scarlett comes out ... well, it depends on when you signed up, and whether you got an Xbox One X or not.
The terms and conditions on the Xbox All Access page note that subscribers will have to have made at least 12 months of payments before you can upgrade to Project Scarlett, and you'll also have to sign up to a new 24 month contract. It's only available for those who got the pricier Xbox One X bundle, too.
Upgrading to Project Scarlett is subject to its release and availability at the time you upgrade. Upgrade requires at least 12 payments on your original Xbox All Access contract, and purchase of a new 24-month Xbox All Access contract for Project Scarlett, expected Holiday 2020. Offer valid for original purchase of Xbox One X with Xbox All Access through Dec 31, 2019; not available with Xbox One S. New contract, terms, and pricing apply. Requires return of console in good condition.
So if you get an Xbox One S package through Telstra and Xbox All Access, your only option right for upgrading to Scarlett will be to buy out what's left on your contract, and sign up to a new deal. The Xbox One X isn't cheaper in the long-term on the subscription plan either, so even if you tried to pay out the contract and trade it in to grab Project Scarlett, you'd still be paying more money in the long run.
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