What you should consider while choosing between PlayStation+ and Xbox Game Pass

Although PlayStation’s streaming service dwarfs Xbox’s library, Game Pass gets the day one releases.

Prepare for another battle of the behemoths: Microsoft vs. PlayStation. The two tech titans are gearing up to go head to head in the streaming wars.

Xbox’s Game Pass subscription service has been humming along for years now, dominating the video game streaming market with 60% but here’s PlayStation coming up on the right. With the announcement of PlayStation’s shiny new gaming service, it seems like Xbox’s Game Pass might finally gain a reasonable competitor. And with the two of them competing for precious gamer dollars, we gamers stand to benefit.

Suppose you were a baby gamer, trying to choose between the brand new PlayStation and Xbox Super-Machine consoles, how would you choose? Well, the compatible and exclusive games can be one of the biggest contributing factors depending on your needs. However, games can get quite expensive, with the newest AAA games costing around $80 — and if you don’t think that is quite expensive, you might not need a subscription service to enjoy a ton of new games. However if you do like to play lots of games and don’t have the salary of a tech giant, you might want to consider the subscription services. 

Although it does seem unfortunate that you lose access to the games once you cancel the service, all your progress is saved to your account and can be continued as soon as you rejoin or buy the game if you really like it. 

However comparing services can get quite complicated considering streaming, compatibility, and the availability of games in mind. If you do want to try out any of these services for a month Xbox usually has some deal where you can get a couple months free, but don’t get caught by forgetting to cancel prior to the end of your trial so you don’t get an unexpected fee. 

Like many other services PlayStation and Xbox both have multiple subscription levels with everything being available on the highest tiers. 

PlayStation’s lowest tier is the same as the current PlayStation Plus as it is now, with two free monthly games, exclusive discounts, cloud storage for saved games, and online multiplayer access. The second tier — PS+ Extra — provides everything from the Essentials tier along with 400 of the best PS4 and PS5 games. The top and most expensive tier — PS+ Premium — will include 300 more games from the previous PS1, PS2, PS3, and PSP consoles along with everything in the Essentials and Extra tiers.

For the base Game Pass options there are two choices: Xbox Game Pass for the console users, and PC Game Pass for all of you that don’t have an Xbox. Both include a similar 100 games, day one releases, and discounts. However, if you fortunately have both an Xbox and a PC there is a top tier just for you called Game Pass Ultimate which bundles both options together and adds a little extra, including perks such as free skins or trials for subscription services such as YouTube premium. However, the biggest reason to upgrade to Game Pass Ultimate is that you can play  from the cloud on almost any device, even on Apple devices; which is unfortunately one of the only ways to play console games if you’re stuck in that Apple ecosystem.

Cloud streaming is available for most games on both services, but is required if you want to play any PS3 games or Xbox Game Pass games on your mobile phone, which is a feature that isn’t available for PlayStation users. Cloud streaming is also required if you have installed a couple of collassally large call of duty games and run out of storage.  For streaming at home or on the go, it is really dependent on the speed of your wifi. Because of input latency, certain games such as first person shooters or fighters that require quick reflexes will be a bit tricky to play; however, if you prefer slower paced games, such as turn-based strategy games or card games, then it shouldn’t be as noticeable. Fortunately, all other games on both services are available to be downloaded, with most being supported via cloud streaming.  Unfortunately, PS+ cloud streaming isn’t supported on Apple devices due to Apple’s strict barriers forcing companies to use loopholes such as using browser apps. The only way to stream PlayStation games is with a PC or PlayStation console.

The amount of games on both services are surprisingly different. Game Pass includes over 100 games, while PS+ somehow includes over 700 games, with 400 being from the PS4 and PS5 generations and the remaining 300 from PS1, PS2, PS3, and PSP generations. Another bonus with PS+ is the PS+ collection which includes 20 of PlayStation’s best exclusive games from the PS4 generation, and arguably of all time. Such as The Last of Us, God of War (2018) and Uncharted 4. These games may not be from the PS5 generation but they are still some of the best and a great collection of games to start off a new console with improved load times and graphics. Although it seems that PS+ would be the preferred platform, that may not be the case depending on your favorite games.

One of Game Pass’s most enticing features that keeps gamers up to date is that all of Microsoft’s game studios’ games are available to Game Pass subscribers as of the day they release, with the most recent AAA games being the long awaited HALO: INFINITE, Forza Horizon 5, and Back 4 Blood. Because Microsoft has a tendency to buy big AAA studios with well known IP, they have many new AAA games coming to the service soon, such as Elder Scrolls: 6 and Starfield. But if you really want to complete these games to their fullest you will probably have to play them for multiple months while you track down every last easter egg in these games. Unfortunately PlayStation does not have this feature. 

“We feel if we were to do that with the games that we make at PlayStation Studios,” says PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan, “that virtuous cycle will be broken. The level of investment that we need to make in our studios would not be possible, and we think the knock-on effect on the quality of the games that we make would not be something that gamers want.”  

However it has been confirmed that a few of PlayStation’s big games will be coming to the service at launch, Such as the spiderman games, death stranding, God of War, and Returnal.

The bottom line is the type of games you like: if you like to play the latest games as soon as they launch, then Game Pass is probably the way to go; if you play lots of games, PlayStation might be a better choice for you because of their extensive library. Most recent games are on PlayStation’s service along with their back catalog of over 700 games compared to 100 on Game pass. You also have to be willing to spend $204 a year for Game Pass ultimate compared to $120 for PlayStation Premium.

Image credit: Shutterstock

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