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In a nutshell: The next-gen console wars began months ago, but Microsoft has chosen this week to strike first in terms of value. Not only has it nailed down a release date, it also revealed prices, financing options, and today another service added to its Game Pass Ultimate bundle. It's Sony's move now.
Microsoft announced on Wednesday that it would begin adding EA Play to Xbox Game Pass at no extra charge. EA's subscription service will be rolled into Game Pass for PC for $5 per month and the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate bundle for $15 per month. That means extra value without a price bump.
This is just the first salvo in what is sure to become a pricing/added-value war over then next several weeks between Microsoft and Sony as their next-gen consoles approach launch day.
Xbox did not have a specific date when the new bundle would take effect, only saying it is rolling out "this holiday." We'll have to wait and see whether that means before or after the Xbox Series X|S launch on November 10.
Streamlining efforts at EA recently combined EA Access and Origin Access services under a new branding umbrella called EA Play. It includes access to member-only content, challenges, rewards, discounts, exclusive timed demos, and over 60 EA games. Some of the titles included in EA Play will also be available on Microsoft's cloud gaming service.
Additionally, the company announced financing for Xbox Series S and Series X for $25 and $35 per month (respectively) over 24 months. The payment plan includes Game Pass Ultimate, so for those who already pay for GP Ultimate, $10 or $20 more per month gets them a new console at a slightly discounted price at the end of two years.
The ball is in Sony's court now. It has yet to announce a price tag or specific release date for the PlayStation 5. Execs are either working out a competitive price or are trying to come up with another way to make it look like the PS5 will be a better deal. We'll see what happens soon. The launch is within the next few months, so an official announcement must be coming soon.