How the new PlayStation Plus compares to Xbox Game Pass
More than a month after unveiling the revamped version of PlayStation Plus, Sony has shared the initial lineup of games heading to its new service, covering everything from original PlayStation classics and PlayStation Portable titles to modern hits. The new PlayStation Plus has three tiers, each priced discreetly and offering different tiers of goodies, and it’s all set to go live June 13 in the Americas.
Now that we know which games will be included in each tier – PlayStation Plus Essential, Extra and Premium – it’s easier to directly compare Sony’s service with that of its biggest competitor, Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass.
The new PlayStation Plus
Sony’s subscription service is segmented into three parts, with different games and features available depending on how much you pay. PS Plus Essential costs $10 a month or $60 a year, and it’s basically the Plus we know now, offering two games to download each month, access to online multiplayer features, cloud storage, and discounts. .
PS Plus Extra costs $15 per month or $100 per year and provides the entire Essential tier plus a library of up to 400 downloadable PS4 and PS5 games.
The final option, PS Plus Premium, costs $18 per month or $120 per year and adds up to 340 games from the original PlayStation, PS2, PSP, PS3, and PS4 eras. That’s also where streaming comes in: Sony is integrating its existing cloud service, PlayStation Now, into the new Plus ecosystem, but only at its most expensive tier. Premium adds the ability to play selected PS3 titles from the cloud and stream or download down-tier games from the original PlayStation, PS2, PSP and PS4 eras (cloud play is not available only in territories where PS Now is already live). Streaming will work on PS4, PS5 and PC, while native cloud gaming on mobile devices is not possible on Sony’s network.
Now the games. Sony has confirmed just over 100 titles to PS Plus Extra and Premium, including Demon’s Souls, Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut, Horizon Zero Dawn, The Last of Us Remastered, Gravity Rush Remastered, The Last Guardian, Tokyo Jungle, Ico, tekken 2, asura’s fury, Monkey Escape and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. The latter game is included in the list as part of a deal to give away a few dozen Ubisoft+ Classics games to Extra and Premium subscribers.
Most of the games on Sony’s list are from the PS4 and PS5 generations, which is good news for Extra subscribers. However, Sony’s initial range of old-school games seem slim, even though they’re a crucial Premium tier feature. The focus is on PS3 games, with 29 available to stream and relatively few titles from earlier eras. Although there are a few PS4 remasters of PS2 games on the list, including rogue galaxy and the Jak and Daxter series, so far Sony’s service has no original PS2 games.
There’s still hope for the nostalgic – Sony said its list of classic games is a “first look at a selection of games that will be available”, so there should be more to come.
However, don’t look to PS Plus for new hit Sony games. PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan told gamesindustry.biz in March that the new first-party titles won’t be coming to PS Plus on day one, meaning subscribers will have to pay for them separately. This is notable because Microsoft went out of its way to offer its in-house titles to Game Pass subscribers at launch.
Ryan said his stance on day one lows could change, but for now, don’t expect headlines like Spiderman 2 or God of War Ragnarök on PS Plus at any level.
Xbox Game Pass
On the surface, Game Pass has been a successful venture for Microsoft, with 25 million monthly subscribers and counting. Game Pass unlocks access to a vast library of old and new games, including day one versions of first-party titles such as Halo: Infinite and star field (ultimately); it works on Xbox consoles and PCs, and it includes cloud features that make included games playable on mobile devices.
The Game Pass library has around 300 games, although Microsoft continues to market the service with a low figure of “over 100” titles. The lineup extends from original Xbox to current-gen, and the main tier adds Xbox Live Gold and access to EA Play. Game Pass has heavy hitters like Halo: The Master Chief Collection and Halo: Infinitethe original Loss and its modern suites, Forza Horizon 5, Mass Effect Legendary Edition and Microsoft Flight Simulatoras well as indie games, including A memory blue, Kentucky Route Zero, Outer Wildlands, The gate of death and Spelunky 2.
Microsoft has exclusive access to some of these games because it owns a large share of the video game industry. Xbox Game Studios comprises 23 development teams, including id Software, Bethesda Softworks, Arkane, Ninja Theory, Playground Games, Double Fine and Mojang. All of this ensures that Game Pass has a bank of exclusives to draw from – in practice, PS Plus won’t get games from these studios unless Microsoft allows it. The reverse is also true for Sony’s slate of exclusives, but Microsoft simply has more to work with in that regard.
Game Pass has PC-only and console-only tiers giving access to the library and not much more, and those cost $10 a month each. Neither option includes cloud gaming or Xbox Live Gold, which is required to play some titles online and costs $10 per month on its own. Microsoft doesn’t do much to market these standalone tiers, instead directing players to Game Pass Ultimate, the main focus of the Xbox subscription program.
Game Pass Ultimate costs $15 per month and offers Xbox Live Gold, cloud gaming features, and access to all games in the console and PC lineup. This is the all-inclusive option, working on Xbox consoles, PCs, and mobile devices via the cloud.
PS Plus vs. Game Pass
There are a few glaring differences between the new PS Plus and Game Pass. Sony’s subscription plan has fewer games (for now), it doesn’t include mobile streaming, and it won’t provide day-one access to new first-party titles, which means serious fans of PlayStation will have to pay for these big drops separately.
In terms of pricing, let’s focus on the higher tiers: PS Plus Premium costs $18 per month or $120 per year, and Game Pass Ultimate costs $15 per month. The cost is comparable, but at its most flexible pricing tier, Sony’s plan is $3 a month more than Microsoft’s. It’s an additional payment of $36 per year. Each year, however, PS Plus Premium costs $60 less than Game Pass Ultimate.
Of course, cost isn’t the only consideration here. With rival subscription services, Sony and Microsoft are doubling down on exclusives as their primary source of momentum, and maintaining a rich and unique library will be key to the success of those plans. Xbox may own 20+ studios, but Sony can still provide games that Microsoft can’t, and titles like Demon’s Souls, Gravity Rush Remastered, Tokyo Jungle, Ico and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla are a major draw for long-time PlayStation fans.
That said, the decision not to include first-party games from day one in PS Plus could cost Sony subscribers, as well as some goodwill. The new PS Plus also appears to be running out of meat in its catalog of classics, a move that could turn off potential Premium subscribers, but Sony is just getting started and there’s plenty of room to grow. That is, if Jim Ryan and his team see the value in adding content to the service.
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