Updated, 12/20/2018, 9am PT: Microsoft reached out to Tom's Hardware to let us know that Xbox All Access will stop being offered on December 31. "But stay tuned – thanks to our fans and the amazing response we’ve received for Xbox All Access, we’re excited to share that we’ll be expanding the program and bringing it to even more gamers in 2019," a company spokesperson said. "We don’t have any further details to share beyond that, but we’ll be sure to keep you in the loop." The offer will be available in Microsoft Stores in the U.S. until the end date.
Edited, 8/27/18, 7:35am PT: Microsoft has officially revealed Xbox All Access. Many of the details match earlier rumors: You can get an Xbox One console and two years of Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass in exchange for a monthly fee with no upfront cost. The Xbox One S bundle costs $22 per month, which Microsoft said is a 20% savings versus buying everything separately, and the Xbox One X runs $35. There is one rub--you have to go into a Microsoft Store to take advantage of the offering, which the company said will only be available for a limited time.
Original article, 8/23/18, 6:36am PT:
It's starting to feel like everything is subscription-based. You can get a month's worth of food, entertainment, and pretty much anything else you want in exchange for paying a regular fee instead of simply buying things outright. Soon you might be able to add owning an Xbox to that list: Microsoft is reportedly planning to introduce an "Xbox All Access" plan that lets you experience the best its console has to offer for yourself.
Windows Central reported that Xbox All Access subscriptions will include an Xbox One S, Xbox Live and Xbox Game Pass for roughly $22 per month. Upping the cost to around $35 will net an Xbox One X instead. This doesn't appear to be a regular monthly subscription, though, so you can't pay $22 to get all the perks for a single game and then cancel when you're done. Microsoft is expected to require a two-year commitment.
That setup makes Xbox All Access seem more like it's copying the cellphone model than ordinary subscriptions. Carriers in the U.S. have long offered relatively low-cost access to devices in exchange for two-year contracts, with the idea being that people are more likely to stick with a particular network if they can have the latest phones. (And, you know, are legally required to ride out the contract or pay cancellation fees.)
Microsoft could be hoping that approach will help encourage people to play more on Xbox. Consoles are often fairly expensive--at least until you compare them to the cost of building a PC with the latest-and-greatest parts--so people might only buy one. Breaking up the cost into monthly payments could encourage people who are curious about the Xbox One S and Xbox One X that they can afford one more console after all.
Besides, getting consoles into more people's entertainment centers is the only way to sell more games and monthly subscriptions. Who's going to buy the Xbox version of a game, sign up for a multiplayer-focused service like Xbox Live and add Xbox Game Pass to their list of entertainment-centric subscriptions if they don't even own an Xbox?
The plan might actually cost less. An Xbox One S with 1TB storage runs around $300, two years of Xbox Live costs $120, and 24 months of Xbox Game Pass comes up to $240, for a total of $660. (You can buy a year of Xbox Live access; Xbox Game Pass is monthly.) The cost through Xbox All Access, at $22 per month for 24 months, would be $528. Note, however, that Microsoft could offer a console with less storage.
Those figures check out for the Xbox One X as well. With 1TB storage it costs about $500, so when you add in the access to Xbox Live and Xbox Game Pass, the complete package would be $860. That doesn't compare as favorably--you're only saving $20 with Xbox All Access--but it's still a bit cheaper. Just remember that these figures don't factor in free trials and bundled games, and those monthly costs haven't been confirmed.
Neither has the existence of Xbox All Access itself. But if Microsoft wants to grow even more competitive with Sony--the company seems to have buddied up with Nintendo--this offering could help it do so. Netflix, Spotify and countless other companies have gotten people accustomed to paying monthly fees instead of paying a whole bunch of money all at once. Why not attempt to do the same thing with video game consoles?