PlayStation Plus Vs. Xbox Game Pass: Comparing Prices, Features, And Games
Breaking it down.
As expected, Sony has finally and formally announced its new version of PlayStation Plus, which combines PS Plus and PS Now into a single offering with additional, more expensive tiers available for those seeking extra benefits.
Now that Sony has announced the key details around its updated version of PS Plus (though more specifics are expected to be announced later), we're comparing it to Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass to see how the two popular membership programs in the console space match up. Sony hasn't officially positioned this as a Game Pass competitor, but the two services will invariably be compared as the main subscription offerings to pair with an Xbox or PlayStation console.
The new version of PlayStation Plus includes three tiers, with the Essential category staying the same price as it has been ($10/month). The Extra and Premium categories carry higher monthly, quarterly, and yearly prices, and they bundle together additional services and features.
PS Plus Pricing
- Essential – $10/month, $25/quarter, or $60/year
- Extra – $15/month/, $40/quarter, or $100/year
- Premium – $18/month, $50/quarter, or $120/year
For Xbox Game Pass, there are three main offerings, including PC Game Pass, Xbox Game Pass, and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.
Xbox Game Pass Pricing
- PC Game Pass – $10/month, $30/quarter, or about $120/year
- Xbox Game Pass – $10/month, $30/quarter, or about $120/year
- Xbox Game Pass Ultimate – $15/month, $45/quarter, or about $180/year
People subscribe to services because of what content is available, and the real meat and potatoes of the matter comes down to what PS Plus and Xbox Game Pass offer. Starting with PS Plus, the Essential plan includes all the benefits of the existing PS Plus subscription, including free games each month, discounts on games and other content, cloud storage for saved games, and access to online multiplayer. The Extra tier includes all of that, plus a catalog of up to 400 PS4 and PS5 games to come over time. This library will include "blockbuster hits" from PlayStation Studios and third-party publishers.
The Premium membership, meanwhile, has all of that, plus up to 340 additional games, including PS3 games delivered via streaming and "beloved classic games" from PlayStation, PS2, and PSP available over the cloud and via download. Premium also includes cloud streaming support for some PS4 games in supported markets where PS Now is offered. On top of those perks, the highest tier of PS Now will also include time-limited trials.
A Deluxe version of PS Plus will be available in markets that do not currently support cloud streaming, and the Deluxe offering will be priced lower than Premium. Specific pricing will vary by region. Deluxe will also include original PlayStation, PS2, and PSP games to download, as well as time-limited game trials and all other benefits from the Essential and Extra tiers.
Also of note, when the new edition of PS Plus begins its rollout in June, PS Now will no longer be offered as a standalone service. Going forward, it will be bundled with PS Plus, and existing PS Now members will be migrated to PS Plus Premium at no extra monthly cost.
Xbox Game Pass
For Xbox Game Pass, one of the biggest benefits--and among the most significant differences between PS Plus--is that all first-party games (and some third-party titles) launch into Game Pass on day one.
In addition to day one new releases, Game Pass members across console and PC get access to a growing library of titles, with new ones being introduced each month. With Microsoft recently taking ownership of ZeniMax, Bethesda's games are in the catalog, too, and this will also include the big new release Starfield this year and The Elder Scrolls VI later on. At least some of Activision's titles are expected to join the lineup soon, when Microsoft's blockbuster deal to buy Activision Blizzard goes through, as it's expected to.
Game Pass members also get discounts on games and content, as well as monthly perks, like bonuses for Halo Infinite. Additionally, Game Pass Ultimate and PC Game Pass members automatically get access to EA Play, which is EA's own subscription service that includes big (back catalog) games from the Star Wars, Battlefield, and Mass Effect franchises, among others. Game Pass Ultimate, the most expensive tier of Game Pass, also includes Xbox Live Gold (which is required for online play and provides access to its own library of free Games With Gold titles each month) as well as the ability to stream games from the cloud.
Content is king, and both PS Plus and Game Pass offer up games galore to subscribers. Those who subscribe to the PS Plus Premium tier will get access to more than 700 games over time, including titles from across basically all eras of PlayStation, dating back to the original PlayStation. These classic-era PlayStation games have not yet been announced, however, but Sony promises more details to come. The full list of newer PS Plus games hasn't been confirmed yet, but Death Stranding, God of War, Spider-Man, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Mortal Kombat 11, and Returnal will be there at launch in June, with more to come over time. This is in addition to the hundreds of titles available through the PlayStation Now streaming service, not to mention the monthly free games that PS Plus subscribers get.
On Xbox, Game Pass' library is stuffed with more than 100 titles already--see the full library here. This is not an infinitely expanding catalog, however, as some games cycle in and out. Game Pass Ultimate members also receive new waves of freebies each month via Games With Gold, as well as a huge catalog of backwards compatible titles from the OG Xbox and Xbox 360 days, at no extra cost.
Day One Releases
One of the most pronounced differences between PS Plus and Game Pass comes from day one releases. Xbox Game Pass' strongest selling point is how Microsoft's own games, and some third-party titles, launch directly into Game Pass on day one at no extra cost to members. In 2021, this included high-profile blockbusters like Halo Infinite and Forza Horizon 5, among others. In 2022, all Xbox players will get Bethesda's big new release, Starfield, as well as MLB The Show 22 and Sniper Elite 5, among others.
Sony's strategy is significantly different. PlayStation boss Jim Ryan has said that the "virtuous cycle" of investment that leads to commercial payoff could be significantly derailed if Sony were to take that approach. Game quality could take a hit down the road if Sony went this way, Ryan said.
"[In terms of] putting our own games into this service, or any of our services, upon their release... as you well know, this is not a road that we've gone down in the past," Ryan said. "And it's not a road that we're going to go down with this new service. We feel if we were to do that with the games that we make at PlayStation Studios, 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."
"We feel like we are in a good virtuous cycle with the studios," Ryan added. "Where the investment delivers success, which enables yet more investment, which delivers yet more success. We like that cycle and we think our gamers like that cycle."
Ryan went on to say that Sony is not strictly committed to this. It could turn around and change its stance at any moment, based on market trends and other factors.
"The way the world is changing so very quickly at the moment, nothing is forever," he said. "So I don't want to cast anything in stone at this stage. All I'm talking to today is the approach we're taking in the short term. The way our publishing model works right now, it doesn't make any sense. But things can change very quickly in this industry, as we all know."
Keep checking back for more on PS Plus vs. Game Pass in the days and weeks ahead.
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