Game Pass Vs. The New PS Plus, The Comparison We Had To Make

Game Pass vs. The new PS Plus, the comparison we had to make

Two months ago, Sony revamped PS Plus, its long-standing membership program for PlayStation owners. Now it looks a lot like Microsoft’s Game Pass: For roughly the same money, both offer access to a Netflix-style library of games on demand. Obviously, we had to pit two services against each other.

Price

Game Pass is available as a subscription for console, PC, or both. Two separate tiers cost $US10 ($14) per month. Xbox Live Ultimate, which joins them and provides access to the EA Play library (a similar games-on-demand service) and Xbox Live Gold, costs $US15 ($21) a month. There is no way to pay several months or a year in advance on a graduated reduction (at least officially).

PS Plus is also available for subscription, but it gets complicated very quickly. There are two new levels. Extra costs $15 ($21) a month or $100 ($139) a year and offers free monthly games, online play and a catalog of on-demand games including some of Ubisoft’s library. Premium costs $18 ($25) a month or $120 ($167) a year and adds access to classic games, game trials and cloud streaming for most games in the library. That’s a huge price difference, and while PS Plus Premium is more expensive month-to-month, it’s actually almost 50 percent cheaper if you commit to a full year.

Winner: PS Plus

Streaming

Game Pass allows cloud streaming provided you pay for the more expensive Ultimate tier. The streaming feature is technically still “in beta,” but for all intents and purposes it’s up and running. Microsoft recommends an internet speed of at least 10 Mbps for mobile devices and 20 Mbps for consoles and PCs. Based my box‘s testing, is it…ok? Despite the huge advances in cloud gaming recently, streaming still can’t compete with downloaded games. Latency, however small, is negligible. As such, cloud gaming is best used for puzzles, chill RPGs, light platformers, and other games that don’t require split-second reflexes.

Microsoft says that “more than 100” games can currently be streamed via cloud gaming on Xbox Game Pass, but more games are added every few weeks. The Game Pass library currently lists 381 games that can be streamed.

Stray. (Screenshot: Annapurna/Kotaku)

To unlock streaming on PS Plus, you need to buy the $US18 ($25) per month tier. And even then, the streaming quality is nothing to write home about. At best, it’s as good as Xbox Cloud Gaming. Sometimes it’s worse. Around 320 games from the Premium library can be streamed on console or PC, and a large number of them are PS3 games and classics rather than the full PlayStation 4 library. For example, Marvel’s Avengers and Stray they are available on the console but not in the streaming library.

Most notably, you can’t stream PS Plus games to your phone. For now, the service relies on Remote Play, which means you need a console to play on mobile and need to be on the same WiFi network.

Winner: Game Pass

Games library

Of course, a games-on-demand service is only as good as the one thing it’s supposed to provide: games.

Currently, the Xbox Game Pass library has about 475 games, but that total includes the library on both tiers, including 92 games that are currently part of EA Play. The main draw, of course, is that Microsoft is putting its entire first-party portfolio on the platform. This also includes the main tent poles – like Halo Infinite and Forza Horizon 5alongside upcoming blockbusters like Star field and Redfall — that are available the day they are released. Third-party games tend to last a year at most, though some, such as Rockstar’s open-world Hold ‘Em simulator. Red Dead Redemption 2, will be unavailable after a few months. It’s unpredictable.

Halo Infinite.  (Screenshot: 343 Industries)Halo Infinite. (Screenshot: 343 Industries)

The library also regularly appears in third-party games and often serves as a launching pad for indie gems. Only this year, twee Zelda-like Tunicsnowboarding sim Shreddersand a puzzle-cum-dungeon-crawler Loot River all launched on Game Pass. (Here is my box‘s list of the best under-the-radar games currently available.) The developers confirmed this my box that debuting on Game Pass leads to initial sales, but is ultimately worth the trade-off in promotion.

PS Plus Extra currently includes around 430 games for PS4 and PS5, while Premium adds another 395 from PS1, PS2, PS3 (streaming only) and PSP. While the classics are a nice bonus, by far the biggest draw is PlayStation exclusives such as Horizon Zero Dawn, The God of War, Spider-Man: Miles Moralesand Bloody. Unlike Microsoft, Sony has committed to not releasing its latest releases on the day and date of the service, and if Returnal arrives a year after its release, it’s any indication that gamers will have to wait at least a year. 18 months before new stuff comes out.

However, there are plenty of strong contenders in the third-party department. Games like Remake of Final Fantasy VII, Spoil, Management, Fateand Tetris effect they are all present as well as india Celeste, The outer wilderness, Dead cellsand Virginia. The library has a lot of variety and was last boosted with a same-day addition Stray, which is already a contender for GOTY in 2022. The Ubisoft folder headed by Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is also a strong compliment. At the same time, Sony has yet to prove that it is or will be as aggressive as Microsoft when it comes to a steady stream of daily third-party additions. Nor is there any part of the library that is exclusive to PC.

Winner: PS Plus

Ari: Going into this exercise, I fully imagined it would paint a clear picture of Game Pass’ superiority, but the two services seem essentially identical to me – right down to the user interface – with Sony’s new version of PS Plus slightly better in a few aspects that matter. The prices are mostly the same, but the ability to pay for a year of PS Plus with a “discount” leaves Game Pass in this regard. Sure, the big draw of Game Pass is that it brings first-party games from Microsoft to the service at launch, but…Microsoft has released almost no first-party games this year! Right now, that benefit seems like little more than a marketing line.

Ethan: I also thought Game Pass would be the clear winner coming out of this, but now I’m conflicted as well. Not everyone can afford to pay a full year upfront, but it really changes the calculus in this matchup. There are also a few other key differences, and while I don’t think one is a clear winner over the other, I think it makes it easier to decide which one you want to pay for. Want instant access to a rich catalog of some of the biggest and best games of the last generation? PS Plus wins. Want to keep track of some of the best new games coming out every month and play them anytime on your phone? Then it’s Game Pass all the way.

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