Spark has announced a partnership with Microsoft that's seeing it exclusively offer New Zealanders Xbox All Access, a bundle that splits the cost of a gaming console and a game subscription service into monthly payments.
It's coming to Aotearoa after being launched in other countries and is a bit like buying a new mobile phone and paying it off monthly as part of a contract, instead of paying a lump sum upfront.
Xbox All Access provides an Xbox One console which is then paid off over a 24-month period, interest-free, but the remaining balance of the bundle cost would have to be paid in full if the plan was quit early.
The cost in New Zealand will be $32 per month for an Xbox One S or $39 for an Xbox One X.
Customers need to be signed up to an 'eligible' Spark broadband or mobile contract plan - or sign up to one of those as well - and their subscription fees would also give them Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. That's a digital game subscription service that grants access to a vast range of games in the same way as paying for services like Netflix and Neon grants access to a vast range of TV shows and movies.
Ultimate also gives customers an Xbox Live Gold account, which means they don't have to pay extra to play games online, and access to free PC games too.
Xbox Game Pass isn't the only game subscription service available in New Zealand - EA Access is another.
PlayStation Plus also provides subscribers with a few free games per month, but Xbox All Access is the first deal that provides a gaming console and digital access to a library of over 100 games.
"I believe gaming has huge potential as a digital subscription service - we've already seen this transformation with movies and music," says Matt Bain, Spark's marketing director.
The company described the new deal as "the first product offering in this new partnership" with Microsoft and added it "joins the line-up of entertainment options Spark customers can already add to their plans".
It marks the latest effort for telecommunications companies in New Zealand to diversify their offerings, with Spark rival Vodafone offering a subscription video-on-demand bundle with Vodafone TV.
Spark customers on eligible plans can join Xbox All Access from today.
New Zealand's courier network is currently overwhelmed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Spark estimates people signing up to Xbox All Access could expect their console to arrive in 3-5 days for urban deliveries or 4-7 days for rural.