Xbox Game Pass Core: Everything you need to know

Xbox Game Pass Core
(Image credit: Microsoft Gaming)

Xbox Game Pass Core is officially here, replacing the Xbox Live moniker that has existed for the last 20 years. While Microsoft Gaming's flagship online service isn't going away, there are some big changes coming. The key thing to know is that if you want to get online and play with your friends, and you already have an existing Xbox Live Gold subscriptions, that's going to now be known as 'Xbox Game Pass Core'. 

Game Pass Core is being referred to as "the evolution of Xbox Live Gold" rather than an outright replacement, with this new service offering access to the multiplayer network and a curated collection of some of the best Xbox Series X games. You'll be able to find a full list of the 36 games available below, as well as plenty more information. 

It's also worth noting that as part of the change, Microsoft is retiring the Games with Gold service. Given how established Xbox Live Gold is, there's quite a bit to wrap your head around, so below we're going to run through everything you need to know about Xbox Game Pass Core – including price, benefits, release date, and the list of confirmed games you'll be able to access. 

Recent updates

Our guide to Xbox Game Pass Core was updated on September 13 to confirm the final selection of titles that will be included in the service. 

Xbox Game Pass Core release date

Xbox Game Pass Core

(Image credit: Microsoft Gaming)

The Xbox Game Pass Core release date is set for September 14, 2023. If you're an existing Xbox Live Gold member, your subscription will automatically transition to the new service. That means that from September 14, you'll still be able to access the online multiplayer network to play and chat with your friends and you'll gain access to a library of 36 of some of the best Xbox One games and Xbox Series X titles. 

Xbox Game Pass Core price

(Image credit: Microsoft Gaming)

The Xbox Game Pass Core price remains in lockstep with the current Xbox Live Gold price. That means that Xbox Game Pass Core will cost $9.99/£6.99 a month, or $59.99/£49.99 a year. You'll also still get access to exclusive member deals and discounts on selected games, and be able to access Free Play Days. Games with Gold is no longer included in the price of the subscription, as the service is being retired in favor of a catalog of over 25 games. 

Xbox Game Pass Core games list

Dihonored 2

(Image credit: Bethesda)

The Xbox Game Pass Core games will be available to all subscribers. A package of "more than 25 titles" from Xbox Game Studios, Bethesda, and some favorite third-party publishers – an initiative which is replacing Games with Gold. This collection of titles is expected to be updated up-to three times a year, although it's unlikely to include upcoming Xbox Series X games on day one (like Game Pass Console, Game Pass PC, and Game Pass Ultimate). 

The full day one lineup of Xbox Game Pass Core games is:

Is Xbox Live shutting down?

Halo 2

(Image credit: Xbox)

Xbox Live was introduced 20 years ago, having launched in November 2002 and enabling online connectivity for some of the best original Xbox games like MechAssault and Unreal Championship. The service was ultimately popularized by Halo 2 and has gone on to be an integral component to the Xbox ecosystem – iterations of Xbox Live subsequently appeared on the Xbox 360, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X. 

What's key to understand is that while the 'Xbox Live' branding is going away, the service itself remains unchanged: Your Gamertag will remain, so too will your ability to play online, access your friend list, and your library of games. All that's changing is the name. 

One element of Xbox Live is shutting down, however, and that's the Games with Gold initiative. Having launched in July 2013 for Xbox 360, Games with Gold gave Xbox Live Gold subscribers the option of accessing free games every month. A decade ago, this was a huge selling-point for Gold and, if memory serves, that first year offered up some of the best Xbox 360 games like Assassin's Creed 2, Crackdown, Gears of War, Halo 3, and Rainbow Six: Vegas. 

The strength of this service has waned in recent years, particularly following the launch of the Xbox Game Pass subscription service in 2017. It's worth noting that while Games with Gold is going away, you'll still be able to access any previously-redeemed Xbox 360 and Xbox One games from your library – so long as you remain a Game Pass Core or Game Pass Ultimate subscriber. 

Xbox Game Pass Core won't give you access to the full Xbox Game Pass library, with that remaining exclusive to Xbox Game Pass Console and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscriptions. If you want to see what you're missing out on, check out our ranking of the best Xbox Game Pass games

Josh West
UK Managing Editor, GamesRadar+

Josh West is the UK Managing Editor of GamesRadar+. He has over 10 years experience in online and print journalism, and holds a BA (Hons) in Journalism and Feature Writing. Prior to starting his current position, Josh has served as GR+'s Features Editor and Deputy Editor of games™ magazine, and has freelanced for numerous publications including 3D Artist, Edge magazine, iCreate, Metal Hammer, Play, Retro Gamer, and SFX. Additionally, he has appeared on the BBC and ITV to provide expert comment, written for Scholastic books, edited a book for Hachette, and worked as the Assistant Producer of the Future Games Show. In his spare time, Josh likes to play bass guitar and video games. Years ago, he was in a few movies and TV shows that you've definitely seen but will never be able to spot him in.