Update 11/03/2023 6:20 p.m. ET: The Verge reports that Xbox chief Phil Spencer has reversed the decision to end free Game Pass Ultimate access for non-Xbox Microsoft employees. In an internal memo, Spencer wrote:
After looking into this more with the team, I just want to confirm that no change will be made to Game Pass availability in 2024. If you have access to the Game Pass offer today you will continue to have access. I appreciate the time to get up to speed and sorry for the questions and confusion created. And thanks for supporting Xbox.
Original story follows.
Working at Microsoft grants you some nice perks. One of those perks, free Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscriptions, is going away next year, and staff at the large tech company are reportedly not happy about it. Employees were so upset that Xbox boss Phil Spencer had to step in and address the situation.
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is a damn good deal, offering players a large library of new and old video games that can be played across PC, Xbox, and cloud streaming. The service has millions of subscribers thanks to big games like Starfield landing on Game Pass on day one. And with Activision games likely heading to the Netflix-like service in the future—following Microsoft’s acquisition of the Call of Duty publisher—Game Pass is going to become an even better deal. Of course, if you don’t have to pay at all for Game Pass it’s a really, really good deal. But it seems that the nice Microsoft staff perk is going away soon.
A November 2 report from The Verge claims that Microsoft is removing the free Xbox Game Pass Ultimate benefit for most of its 200,000+ permanent employees. The perk will go away in January 2024. Reportedly, Microsoft staff will be able to buy discounted 12-month Game Pass plans from the company’s employee store. But that isn’t good enough for the tech company’s frustrated employees, who learned about this change earlier this week.
Sources tell The Verge that most Xbox-division employees will continue to get free Game Pass. This benefit is only being removed for non-Xbox employees at Microsoft.
Reportedly, some Microsoft employees began complaining on the company’s internal message forum. The posts eventually prompted Xbox’s head honcho Phil Spencer to respond, telling upset employees that he wasn’t aware of the change and would further look into the benefit going away.
This benefit being removed in 2024 probably stings even more considering that in July the price of Game Pass Ultimate jumped from $15 a month to $17 a month. Hopefully affected employees will continue to get some other cool benefits, like, I don’t know…free Office365 subs or fun Clippy t-shirts? New old stock Zunes?