Xbox Game Pass, like many of the on-demand games it offers, has side-quests. It’s true: By accomplishing tasks relevant to Game Pass, you can earn real rewards. And just like in a real game, you can minimize the effort it takes to maximize your rewards.
These Xbox Game Pass quests aren’t to be confused with perks, which came to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate just this March. Perks shift monthly and are relatively painless to get. All you need to do is open up Game Pass on your Xbox or PC and claim them via the perks submenu; no pre-reqs necessary. While some perks are truly sweet (including, as of this writing, six months free of Spotify Premium), for the most part, the offerings are underwhelming: cosmetic upgrades, in-game currency packs, that sort of thing.
Completing quests, on the other hand, grants you points you can redeem for some seriously juicy rewards—and they’re not limited to in-game bonuses. Redeeming 6,500 points will get you a $5 gift card to a big-box retailer (like Walmart, Target, or Sephora) or national chain (Chipotle, Starbucks, Taco Bell). Plopping down 13,000 points can get you a $10 gift card to Regal Entertainment, so you can watch the first 47 minutes of a movie. You can also redeem points for Microsoft goodies: 14,000 for a month of Game Pass Ultimate, 9,500 for a month of Xbox Live Gold, or 1,700 for a $1.25 Xbox gift card.
You can also convert your points into monetary donations to various nonprofits, including The Trevor Project, Girls Who Code, World Wildlife Fund, the International Rescue Committee, GLAAD, and Wikipedia. For every 1,000 points you put up, Microsoft will donate $1 to the foundation of your choice. Every quarter, Microsoft will match your donation—so, redeeming 5,000 points would result in a $10 donation—to a handful of featured charities. You’ll see those right at the top of the in-app list. Even if you played Game Pass games every day for a year, you still probably wouldn’t earn enough points to merit a tax dedication. But it’s cool to know your gaming can do good.
Redeeming your points is easy enough, but the Xbox’s labyrinthine network of menus and submenus can make navigating your way to the right place feel like worming your way through the backstreets of Rome with an unlabeled Mapquest printout. You’ll get there eventually, but maybe not through the most efficient route. The easiest way is to open up Game Pass and scroll down until you see the Quests section. Then hit “Show All.” Or, if you’re using the Xbox Game Pass mobile app, available for iPhone and Android, you can access all of this by opening up the app and going to your profile.
There’s only one major catch with Game Pass quests: Earning big points can feel like netting enough tickets at the local arcade to win that shiny top-shelf Super Soaker. In other words, you’re never gonna get it—unless you have a few tricks up your sleeve.
Playing a game downloaded from Xbox Game Pass will net you five points simply for booting it up. You can only earn this reward once a day, but earning it is effortless—and those points add up over time. Better yet, you needn’t switch things up. You can play the same game every day and still reap the rewards. One suggestion: Wizard of Legend, the top-down, dungeon-crawling roguelite. It’s fast-paced, easy to pick up and put down, and makes for a blast of a co-op game.
Most of the weekly quests are subtle moves on Microsoft’s part to steer you toward relatively recent Game Pass additions. For example, two of this week’s quests are about playing Nier: Automata (“Join the fight”) and Ori and the Will of the Wisps (“jump into the adventure”). All you need to do is boot up the game. You don’t even need to make it to the main menu; the very first loading screen will do the trick. (Though, for the record, if you haven’t yet, you should play both games. Nier is a gaming touchstone at this point, and Ori is an unmissable tour de force.) You’ll get 25 points for each.
Some monthly quests are sort of meta quests: You complete these quests by completing other daily or weekly quests. This will happen naturally—or it won’t. Don’t stress yourself too hard.
The more interesting quests require you to pull off specific tasks in specific games. A word of advice: Only gun for the quests related to the games you’d play otherwise. It’s not worth trying to get 75 kills in Middle Earth: Shadow of War if you’re bound to bore of the game before you hit half that amount. There’s no reason to turn video games into homework—even in the name of free stuff.
Downloading five games via the app will complete the “Game Pass Games on the Go” monthly quest, which gives you 25 points. When a game on Game Pass piques your interest, instead of downloading it then and there, reach into your pocket, pull out your smartphone, boot up the Xbox Game Pass app, and download the games remotely to your console. Here’s a guide that can walk you through that process:
Don’t sleep on the Microsoft Rewards app, either, because there are some gimme putts in there. If you earn an achievement, for instance, you’ll get 50 points, a bonus you can repeat daily. Thing is, earning an achievement doesn’t net you the points automatically. You have to go to Microsoft Rewards each time and redeem it. Pair this with the Game Pass quest for earning an achievement, which nets you 10 points, and you can see how this starts to add up.
You’ll also earn 500 points just for taking one whole second to complete the “welcome to Xbox Game Pass” checklist: looking at recent games (0.2 seconds), looking at the Game Pass discounts (0.2 seconds), looking at the multiplayer games (0.2) seconds, downloading the Xbox Game Pass app (0.4 seconds or more, depending on Wi-Fi connection), and viewing the Game Pass Quests (if you’re in the business of racking up points, this one’s already checked off).