Despite both being subscription services built around giving players a wide array of old and new titles to play, there wasn’t much reason to compare PlayStation Now and Xbox Game Pass early on. Sony’s service was initially a streaming-only affair that mainly offered up smaller digital titles and older retail games, which limited its audience greatly, while Microsoft’s service essentially gave players an instant library of most decent Xbox exclusives. However, Sony has added the ability to download PS4 games on the service and they recently added some major first-party titles to the service (albeit for a limited time) when it lowered the price to just $9.99 a month, the same as Xbox Game Pass. Because of this, the PS Now vs. Xbox Game Pass debate is more relevant than ever before.
PS Now vs. Xbox Game Pass | The overview
While the two services largely serve the same purpose, they each have a few unique features that the other doesn’t. For example, PlayStation Now still allows players to stream games rather than download them. The big advantage there is that means players can check out games that wouldn’t natively run on the PlayStation 4, such as the vast array of PS3 titles that it offers. Meanwhile, Xbox Game Pass can also be enjoyed on PC, which means Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers (which goes for $15 a month and includes Xbox Live Gold) can play on both Xbox One and PC. So, if you’re looking to play on your PC more often or have great internet to where streaming works well, then those unique factors could lead you to one rather than the other.
Other than those differences, both subscription services are quite similar. They each have a robust library of over 300 games spanning multiple generations. As such, it’s a great history lesson if you want to explore older series and tick off some boxes in your personal backlog of games you always wanted to play but never got around to doing so. They have even more value if you’re a trophy or achievement hunter. For these specific niches, these services are well worth the price of admission each month. However, most gamers only play a few games per month and that’s when the value has to be examined further.
PS Now vs. Xbox Game Pass | What offers more bang for your buck
If you are the type of gamer that likes to be a part of the zeitgeist around new releases and have a fear of missing out then Xbox Game Pass is the much better service. It regularly has games launch on the service, while Sony primarily deals with older releases. Stellaris: Console Edition, Jump Force, Dirt Rally 2.0, Metro Exodus, World War Z, Blair Witch, and Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night are just a few of the 2019 releases that are available in Xbox Game Pass right now. Not many major third-party releases launch on either, so you probably shouldn’t subscribe on this aspect alone, but Microsoft tends to pick up some cool indie titles and smaller games that subscribers won’t have to pay extra for in order to play at launch.
Another draw for each service, and why both are easily recommended to those that just got a new system, is that they have plenty of first-party games from each console maker’s internal studios. For example, Sony is offering up Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, God of War, and Infamous Second Son for a limited time (they disappear on January 2, 2020). None of these are Sony’s newest exclusives, but they are all highly-regarded titles that are worth checking out. If you haven’t played them yet, then the $9.99 it costs to subscribe for a month will be well worth it.
However, Microsoft’s first-party library is much more impressive on Game Pass (even if it doesn’t put out nearly as many must-have exclusives). Every major first-party Xbox One game that didn’t rely on Kinect is available, and most of its best Xbox and Xbox 360 exclusives are there as well. Sweetening the pot is that all first-party new releases, as infrequent as they are at the moment, release on Game Pass at launch. So, if you want to eventually play Halo Infinite or any of the other upcoming releases, then you are set with your subscription. Game Pass is really the best way to enjoy owning an Xbox as you get access to their biggest releases and a ton of great games in a backlog.
Both also offer a healthy helping of titles from the last generation, but the delivery method might be a deciding factor. Players can download PS2 and PS4 games on PS Now but they’ll have to stream PS3 games. Everything on Game Pass has to be downloaded. So while you may want to play Mortal Kombat 9 on PS Now, you’ll have to stream it, which isn’t ideal for a fighting game. But it isn’t on Game Pass. The breadth of old titles you want to visit along with how you want to visit them is quite a part of each service.
PS Now vs. Xbox Game Pass | Both are great values if you use them
If you have both systems and can only afford one, then Xbox Game Pass gets the slight edge due to its newer releases and its impressive list of first-party games that won’t disappear quickly into the new year like Sony’s biggest hits. However, it all depends on what games you actually want to play. Rather than blindly pledging allegiance to one service or the other, check out their full lists of games and determine what you want to play that month. With some high-profile titles expiring soon, it might make sense to subscribe to PS Now currently, and switch over to Xbox Game Pass when their next first-party game hits. You really can’t go wrong as both services are a great value as long as you’re actively playing them.
Just like other streaming services, Xbox Game Pass and PS Now are depending on some subscribers to use it rarely or just forget about their subscription. So, if you don’t want to get gamed by the system, you’ll want to keep an eye on your subscriptions and make sure you’re using them. It’s far too easy to ignore a small $9.99 withdrawal from your bank account each month, but they add up very quickly.
Ultimately, both systems are a great value if there are games that players want to check out. Each library is strong and varied enough that everyone should find something they like, so that shouldn’t be an issue. Whether you own an Xbox One, a PS4, or both, their respective subscription services are well worth checking out for a month or two. And given the competition, they’re only going to get better.