Microsoft has announced big price rises for Game Pass, its Netflix-style subscription service for games.

The gaming giant, which purchased studio Activision Blizzard for a record $69bn (then £56bn) in 2023, says monthly charges for PC Game Pass will rise by £2 to £9.99, while its premium service, Ultimate, will go up by £2 to £14.99 per month.

It is also replacing its standard subscription tier on Xbox consoles in September, meaning Xbox gamers will now have to subscribe to Game Pass Ultimate if they want access to new games on the day they are released.

It comes after Microsoft announced in May that its most eagerly awaited new title – Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 – would be available straight away to Game Pass subscribers.

Analysts said that represented an attempt to shake-up the industry, which has long been dominated by sales of physical games.

Game Pass, much like Sony’s rival PlayStation Plus service, lets console and PC players play hundreds of video games for a monthly subscription fee.

Both can be seen as a “Netflix for games”, though gamers can download many of the games available to play, rather than streaming them.

There are around 34 million Game Pass subscribers worldwide – all of them will now have to pay more.

The price increases for the UK are:

  • Game Pass Ultimate: Monthly will go up from £12.99 to £14.99
  • PC Game Pass: Monthly will go up from £7.99 to £9.99
  • Game Pass Core: Annual will go up from £49.99 to £55.99

The changes will take effect immediately for new subscribers, but existing members paying recurring fees will see their bills change in September.

Xbox gamers who currently have a basic subscription on their console will be able to keep it until it expires.

Subscribers to this tier will still get access to hundreds of games, but this will exclude those which have just been released, as well as a few extra games only available to Ultimate subscribers.

Microsoft said in its announcement that “some games” available on Game Pass Ultimate on launch “may be” added to the standard subscription at a later date.

The price changes mean the most expensive Game Pass price is now costlier than Sony’s PlayStation Plus Premium, which is £13.49 per month in the UK.

The price rises and attempts to push console users to move to a more expensive tier appear linked to the decision to release the latest Call of Duty straightaway on Game Pass.

At the time, observers questioned how Microsoft could afford the move, with GamesIndustry.biz head Christopher Dring telling the BBC he wondered if the firm would “introduce higher tiers to Game Pass or other monetisation techniques” to mitigate it.

Call of Duty has sold more than 425m copies across the series, and made tens of billions of dollars in the process.