In a recent development, Microsoft has reversed the decision to discontinue the free Xbox Game Pass Ultimate benefit following complaints from its employees. This reversal means that the employees will continue to have access to the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription for free.
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription includes hundreds of high-quality games on console, PC, and cloud, online console multiplayer, EA Play membership, member discounts and deals, and much more.
“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,” reads Microsoft Xbox CEO Phil Spencer’s message to its employees on the company’s internal Viva platform.
For those unaware, Microsoft started notifying its employees this week that they would no longer have free access to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, effective January 2024.
The change in employee benefits reportedly affected most of Microsoft’s 238,000 employees who aren’t part of the Xbox or Microsoft Gaming division, potentially saving the company $50 million per year.
While employees in Xbox or Microsoft Gaming will continue to receive this benefit, non-Xbox Microsoft employees will need to purchase the discounted 12-month Game Pass plans from the company’s internal store to continue using the program.
It’s no surprise that this decision did not go well with the affected employees, sparking discontent among them, which forced Xbox CEO Spencer to step in. He was said to be unaware of the change.
Spencer later clarified in an internal memo that there would be no changes to Xbox’s Game Pass Ultimate Pass availability in 2024, ensuring that Microsoft employees would continue to have free access to the service.
Earlier this year, Microsoft hiked the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription from $14.99 to $16.99 per month for users outside the United States. Besides this, the company also introduced Xbox Game Pass Core in September to replace the aging Xbox Live Gold service.