$1 Game Pass deal vanishes ahead of Starfield launch

 Starfield character looking at player
Starfield character looking at player

The $1 PC Game Pass introductory price has evaporated again. The deal has been offered off and on for years now, but mostly on, and has included as much as a three month subscription to Microsoft's game library. Mostly it's been one month for $1, which was reduced to 15 days for $1 at the start of August, and has now been reduced to nada. PC Game Pass is back to $10/month from the start. The console version is also its standard $11/month, and Game Pass Ultimate is $16/month.

It's pretty obvious why the deal was dropped now: to keep us from paying $1 to power through Starfield in two weeks, which would come to a 98.57% discount on Starfield's $70 Standard Edition, with the obvious caveat that you'd have to stop playing at the end of the trial.

The regular $10/month PC Game Pass subscription still offers a way to play Starfield without paying full price for it, assuming you don't plan to spend more than six months in space, or you get enough out of the rest of the PC Game Pass library to justify it—recent additions include Everspace 2, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and Exoprimal. But despite being such a huge release, Starfield doesn't feel like one of the better arguments for a Game Pass sub to me.

For one thing, Game Pass promises all the big new games from Microsoft-owned studios on "day one," but that promise is only nominally kept in the case of Starfield. "Early access" to the space RPG starts this Friday (or late Thursday, depending on your time zone) for owners of the $100 Premium Edition, while standard edition owners and Game Pass subscribers have to wait until September 6.

If Game Pass subscribers want to play Starfield on September 1, the true "day one," they have the option to purchase the Premium Edition Upgrade, which is offered to subscribers for $31.49. The fee feels like an awkward compromise between Microsoft's long-term goal of growing Game Pass subscribership and immediate goal of selling Bethesda's most anticipated game since Skyrim. I can't really imagine a non-awkward compromise between those goals, but by not going all-in on Game Pass here, Microsoft may be sowing future distrust of its subscription plan: subscribers come first, unless the game is a really big deal?

If you could still get Game Pass for $1, I'd have recommended it as a way to demo Starfield to see if you want to buy it. Otherwise, it strikes me as the kind of game you might rather own, assuming you do like it. You don't want to end up subscribing to Game Pass exclusively for one game and paying hundreds of dollars for something you could've paid less to own (as much as we own digital stuff at all these days). Wasteful subscription spending happens all the time: My recent Netflix payments have been for the privilege of watching two episodes of The Witcher Season 3 and deciding I'm not into it anymore. And Starfield is just the kind of game a person might conceivably return to for years: Bethesda has been telling us that it's huge, and more than a decade on, Skyrim still sits in the middle of Steam's Top 100 concurrents list.