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Editorial

How to try out Microsoft’s new Xbox Game Pass ‘Family Pass’ early

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Xbox Game Pass is a subscription packed with tons of benefits but if you have children, you might run into some serious headaches with the gaming subscription service. After making the case for an Xbox Game Pass Family plan and then later we reported that a Family plan was indeed in development. Microsoft has announced that it has started testing a new plan that allows you to share Game Pass Ultimate benefits with up to 4 people.

Currently Microsoft is testing this new un-named plan in Ireland and Colombia with Xbox Insiders. The new ‘Family Pass’ as we like to call it, will operate similarly to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate but feature the added benefit of enabling the account owner to share the subscription with up to four other Xbox accounts in the same country. Each account that shares the subscription will have unique access to ‘Ultimate’ features like access to games, perks, the ability to play on an Xbox console, PC or on a device via Xbox Cloud Gaming. While Microsoft might be testing this new ‘Family Pass’ tier in just Ireland and Columbia now, the company will likely be testing in additional countries soon and to help you get prepared for a wider rollout, we want to share how to get ready.

How to become an Xbox Insider and get ready for the new Xbox Game Pass plan

  • On your Xbox or PC open the Microsoft Store app
  • Search for the Xbox Insider app
  • Install the Xbox Insider app
  • Open the Xbox Insider app
  • Under previews select and join one of the Xbox Preview build rings
  • Now open the Settings app and check for updates
  • You Xbox will now download and install the Xbox Preview build update
  • Once your Xbox reboots, open the Xbox Insider app
  • Under previews check for an Xbox Game Pass Preview plan
  • If the Xbox Game Pass Preview is available install it
  • Now you can invite up to four people to share the subscription
  • Enjoy!

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.

Known issues: 

  • 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.com links 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. 

Background

Xbox Game Pass offers access to a vast library of games you can play on either your Xbox or PC, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate offers those features to both Xbox consoles and PC, plus the ability to play those games with Xbox Game Streaming (xCloud) on your Android device and later this year your PCs and iOS device as well. Microsoft’s xCloud feature is often referred to as the ‘Netflix of Gaming’ since xCloud is like having a library of games ready on demand to Stream much like Netflix movies and Spotify music and podcasts. Netflix and Spotify offer something that Xbox Game Pass does not currently offer, a Family Pass. Why doesn’t Microsoft offer an Xbox Game Pass ‘Family’ Tier? In this editorial, we will make the case for what we are calling Xbox Game Pass “Family Pass.”

Spotify plans

Spotify Plans & PricingPremium StudentPremium-IndividualPremium DuoPremium Family
Monthly cost* (United States Dollar)$4.99$9.99$12.99$15.99
Up to 6 separate Premium accounts for people who live together.1126
Play any song, any time
Ad-free music
Offline listening
Spotify Kids
Duo Mix
Family Mix
Hulu (ad-supported)
Showtime

Netflix plans

Netflix Plans & PricingBasicStandardPremium
Monthly cost* (United States Dollar)$8.99$13.99$17.99
Number of screens you can watch on at the same time124
Number of phones or tablets you can have downloads on124
Unlimited movies and TV shows
Watch on your laptop, TV, phone and tablet
HD available
Ultra HD available

Xbox Game Pass Plans

Both Spotify and Netflix offer a plan for 2 or up to 6 family members, but why not Xbox Game Pass. Here is what Xbox Game Pass currently offers

Xbox Game Pass Plans & PricingXGP PCXGPXGP
Go
XGP UltimateXGP Family Pass*
Monthly cost* (United States Dollar)$9.99$9.99$9.99 $14.99$17.99
Number of accounts linked to one XGP subscription11 1 25
Access to over 100 high-quality games
New games added all the time
Xbox Game Studios titles the same day as release
Exclusive member discounts and deals
Play on PC
Play on Xbox
Xbox Cloud Gaming (Android, iOS/Web)
Free Perks including in-game content and partner offers
Xbox Family Settings app
Xbox Game Pass Family and Xbox Game Pass Go plans for discussion purposes only, not a real plan yet

Earlier this year we made the case for an Xbox Game Pass ‘Go’ tier, which is essentially for people you want a cloud only gaming subscription similar to what Google offers with Stadia, Amazon offers with Luna and so on.

The case for an Xbox Game Pass ‘Family Pass’ tier

While the ‘Go’ tier would help Xbox Game Pass compete with Stadia, Luna and GeForce Now, Xbox Game Pass Family would fill a need for families while using cloud gaming to lower the barrier to playing games, since not every family member would need an Xbox to play.

With Amazon’s Luna being playable on Fire TVs, Xbox Cloud Gaming needs to be playable on TVs too. This would serve to further lower the barrier to playing games. Take for instance a family of four, Father with an Xbox Series S, Mother with an iPad, Son with a Galaxy Tab and Daughter with another Galaxy Tab. How does this family play a game like Sea of Thieves together? Two or more Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscriptions? Why not one subscription where your Microsoft account that is linked to your kid’s accounts could share access to Xbox Game Pass?

So why hasn’t Microsoft offered an Xbox Game Pass Family plan yet?

It’s true the Xbox Game Pass is the Netflix of Gaming and with that comes Netflix’s problems too. Netflix subscribers on family plans often share their account with others outside their home so instead of Netflix getting five separate subscriptions, Netflix is only getting one. We have heard that Microsoft’s partners have the same concerns about a potential ‘Family’ plan. The question is “will a developer get more in revenue share with a ‘Family’ plan or without?”

A ‘Family Pass’ plan would increase discoverability and ease of access to multiplayer games that could be more “Sticky” and could spend more time with, thus more share of revenue for that game studio. If Microsoft wanted to avoid the Netflix account sharing issue, Microsoft could link this to the Xbox Family service. If you want someone in your family to have access to your family’s Xbox Game Pass subscription then they just need to be in your “Microsoft Family.”

Right now, if you have kids with Android tablets and the Microsoft launcher installed, you can monitor their activity via the Microsoft Family Safety app. Similarly, with the Xbox Family Settings app, you can monitor activity of their Microsoft account connected to the Xbox Network (formally Xbox Live). Another benefit of Xbox Family Settings app, if your kid wants to make a purchase on your Xbox, then your kid can ask permission and you can either grant or reject their request. It seems that the Xbox Family Settings app has kind of laid the groundwork for an Xbox Game Pass ‘Family Pass’ plan and we hope that Microsoft rolls this new plan out for the public very soon.

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