Microsoft announces All Access, a sweet Xbox financing plan with a not-so-sweet catch

Microsoft announces All Access, a sweet Xbox financing plan with a not-so-sweet catch

Just a few days ago, we were hearing rumors about a service, called Xbox All Access, which would allow users to rent an Xbox One console for a monthly fee, getting access to the console itself as well as Xbox online services. Today we learned it’s very real, via a Microsoft blog post the company put up and swiftly deleted. It’s since moved the information to a new page on the main site.

All of the details reported earlier this month appear to be correct. For a monthly fee paid over the course of two years, you can essentially rent an Xbox One, with access to Game Pass and Xbox Live. The prices are $22 for a One S, and $35 for a One X. After the two year period, you own the console outright.

There is one heretofore unknown caveat: To get the console, you’ll have to go to an actual Microsoft store, of which there are precious few. If you live in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, or Wyoming, you’re outta luck.

Still, it’s a good way of lowering the barrier for entry into console gaming. The asking price of a console can be a major deterrent for those who don’t have a few hundred dollars laying around. But letting users spread the price across two years would be one way of getting a more frugal audience on board. Also, I suspect this will be as much a benefit to Microsoft as it is to consumers.

Given the company is working on its next generation console, codenamed “Scarlett,” this is a way of making sure its current console gets as much attention as possible before it has to shift focus to the new baby. And goodness knows the Xbox One could use the help.

The Xbox One is by no means a disappointment, but the PS4’s blistering sales mean Sony’s offering has consistently outshone it. Microsoft is no longer releasing sales numbers, but an EA exec let it slip earlier this year that — assuming Sony’s own numbers are correct — only about half as many Ones have been sold as PS4s. And while the Nintendo Switch hasn’t been on the market nearly as long, its sales are also looking pretty zippy compared with the One.

Call me a jaded cynic, but this looks like a last-ditch effort to get people on the Xbox One train before Microsoft has to start building hype for its next console. That might sound counterintuitive, but I sense Microsoft intends to produce more faithful fans with this deal who’ll be early adopters of Project Scarlett whenever it eventually comes out.

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