Xbox All Access is the best way to buy a console for your kids, if you're comfortable with it
Whether you're trying to buy for the holidays or not, if you're gifting your kids an Xbox this is probably the best way to do it.
The Xbox Series X is still near impossible to get hold of, and in places even the more affordable Xbox Series S can be a pain as well. But added into the mix is the Xbox All Access program which, at least at times, appears to have a separate stock pool.
Indeed, here in the U.K. in recent weeks, there have been instances of the elusive Xbox Series X being available, but only through Xbox All Access. But at least this generally means scalpers don't bother scooping up all the stock.
I bought my own Series X through Xbox All Access at launch, and I was pleasantly surprised at the whole process. Moreso, had I not already done it, I would most definitely have bought my son's Xbox Series S through it. For parents looking to get their kids an Xbox console, Xbox All Access is worth considering if you've previously written it off. Here's why you should and shouldn't use it to buy your kids a new Xbox.
What's good about Xbox All Access
Xbox All Access is, at its core, a finance package to help you buy a console without the large upfront cost normally associated with it. You can do exactly the same with your credit card, but more often than not you'll be subject to interest added on top unless you clear it quickly, which feels like it defeats the point a little. Xbox All Access, by contrast, charges 0% interest. It's literally just the cost of the bundle chopped up into 24 equal installments. No deposit, no interest.
Of course, you don't just get the console, you also have 24 months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate tossed in. It isn't free, but it's all part of the same single payment you'll pay for All Access, and for two years at least, it's one fewer subscription to keep an eye on. If you're buying for kids this is particularly convenient, and the subscription is applied to the console when it comes out of the box — you don't even have to enter a voucher code.
Xbox Game Pass is also the best-value package in gaming. Just ask my son how good it is. We've bought him one game for his new console and the rest he's playing from my library and mostly my Game Pass Ultimate subscription. And he's hardly short on choice. I think he's got 14 games currently installed. It really is such a good buy for kids, just set it up and leave them to it. They'll never be short on games to play and your wallet can probably stay closed a lot more often.
It's not like you don't own the console, either. Naturally, you are liable to make sure you pay up, but as it states in the official documentation, you're buying the console and the full two-year Game Pass Ultimate subscription when you sign up.
Xbox All Access also gives you an upgrade path, as it's available on all currently available Xbox consoles. If you used it to buy an Xbox One S or Series S, for example, once you've completed all 24 payments you have the opportunity as an existing All Access member to upgrade and get a new console by starting a new plan with a new two-year Game Pass Ultimate subscription.
Or, you know, once you're paid up you're paid up and you just go to monthly Game Pass.
All told though it's a great bundle. In the U.K., I pay £28.99 every month for my Xbox Series X and the included Game Pass Ultimate subscription. Game Pass Ultimate on its own is currently £10.99 a month, and the extra 24 payments of £18 actually works out to a little less than the £450 retail price of the console. So that's the last, perhaps best thing about All Access: You can actually end up paying less for your console assuming you wanted Game Pass Ultimate in the first place.
What's not so good about Xbox All Access
As good a program as Xbox All Access is, it is still a finance agreement and it comes with all the associated paperwork, risk, and credit checks that a finance agreement anywhere else would have. Where I am a company called Klarna handles the finance and authorized resellers handle the sale and delivery. But I still had to have a credit check, and I know people who weren't able to go through with it because they were refused.
Not everyone can have or wants a finance agreement attached to them, and so Xbox All Access is not the answer for those people. It's still a financial commitment.
And of course, the overall cost might well be a little lower than buying a console and two years of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate separately, but it's significantly more expensive than just buying the console if you don't want Game Pass Ultimate. Personally, I think everyone who owns an Xbox should have at least some form of Game Pass, but I get it.
It's another commitment, albeit a subscription rather than a hard credit agreement. But if you want to cancel, you lose access to any games you had installed from it. Sometimes you can't beat just buying a game and playing it for as long as you like.
Xbox All Access also isn't available everywhere, which writes off a lot of the world immediately. In fact outside of Europe and North America, you only have South Korea, New Zealand, and Australia currently offering the program. And even in Europe, it isn't every country.
The bottom line
Ultimately as a parent and as someone who has used Xbox All Access, I can say that it is a really great idea for gifting your young ones a console. It's easy, it comes with two years of Game Pass and all the incredible games that will join it in that time, and it's probably the best chance you have of buying an Xbox Series X any time soon.
However, you have to be sure that you're OK with having a credit agreement attached to you. This is the make-or-break part of the deal. And if you're not interested in Game Pass Ultimate, as well you might not be, then keeping an eye out for an Xbox Series S is the best alternative.
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Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine
It's the same in Australia, they have just dropped new stock into Xbox All Access. It's how I got my Series X, it's an absolute no brainer for anyone who has a service with Telstra. The advantage of the Telstra thing though it's basically they are a telecommunications provider in Australia, so the negative you had, requiring a credit check, etc is already handled because you've already done all that with Telstra to set up your original plan. Whether it be home phone, mobile, internet, or whatever. It's also worth pointing out that usually payment systems like this charge exorbitantly more than the individual products themselves, but not in this case, I think it's a difference of about five bucks between the full amount on XAA and buying the console plus 24 months GPU. You can even cancel the sub and you only have to pay out the remaining value on the console, which is also calculated accurately based on how many months you have been on the service.
Possibly fine for teenagers but I have found the Xbox One S to be an absolutely terrible console for my younger son compared to the PS4. Apart from the Lego titles there is a serious lack of any family titles on the Xbox platforms and yet on the PS4 my son (who is 8) will play Spiderman, Locoroco, Knack, Sackboy, Littlebigplanet, Bugsnax, Dreams, Kena, Journey, Ratchet and Clank etc. My 14 year old has just discovered how great Halo is so if you have a teenage kid grab an Xbox but if you have one younger than 12 don't bother.
Tastes vary but BOX has well over 70 different family friendly games ranging from Rare Replay, Disneyland adventure, Portal, Forza Horizon, to Peggle, Banjo Kazooie/BanjoTooie, Skatebird, etc. And then there's Minecraft. I have a pair of tween cousins addicted to the thing. They may not be to your kid's taste and that is fine, but the games exist and that doesn't include the arcade-style Indie games and T-rated simulators and adventures. My own experience has been that kids as young as 8 have no problem finding time sinks. The most shocking crowd pleaser seems to be FUZION FRENZY, a package of 46 party games for up to four on split screen. A 20 year original XBOX launch title that shines under auto HDR and FPS boost. https://www.purexbox.com/news/2021/10/xbox-tweet-sparks-nostalgic-memori... Outside of game pass there are dozens of arcade classics and Hasbro games. Joust, Monopoly, Pacman, etc usually going for under US$10, often under $5. Again, different tastes...
Got my Series X in the UK this way... Console is great and game pass compliments it beautifully... Don't even look to buy new games now... So much choice, so little time... Really enjoying Halo at the moment...
Happy to hear this is a good program somewhere. Never available for the USA west coast
I just read this and scored one via Walmart! Arrives the 21st. After searching for weeks online and in the stores I finally got one for my 12 yr old. He's also found Halo and way into it. Highly recommend especially if you are already subscribing to Game Pass. Really no downside IMHO.
All Access is great ... unless you have a problem with the console. Then it turns into a nightmare. I used All Access to get my son an Xbox Series X for Christmas. The console was DOA. Xbox support told us to return it to the retailer. Since, obviously, there was not another one in stock, the only option Best Buy gave was to offer a refund and take my chances on being able to get a replacement when and if they came back into stock. They only refunded the price of the console, and no one has been able to tell me what happens next with the remainder of the money that I've spent on a console I no longer have.