How the new PlayStation Plus compares to Xbox Game Pass

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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 first batch of games for its new service, covering everything from PlayStation classics and PlayStation Portable titles to modern day hits. The new PlayStation Plus has three tiers, each at a discreet price point and with different extras, and all will go live in America on June 13th.

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 to that of its closest competitor, Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass.

The new PlayStation Plus

Sony’s subscription service is split 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 is basically the Plus we know now. It offers two downloadable games each month, access to online multiplayer features, cloud storage, and discounts.

PS Plus Extra costs $15 per month or $100 per year and offers everything in the Essential tier plus a library of up to 400 downloadable PS4 and PS5 games.

Bluepoint 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 folding its existing PlayStation Now cloud service into the new Plus ecosystem, albeit only at its most expensive tier. Premium adds the ability to play a selection of PS3 titles from the cloud and to stream or download lower level games from the original PlayStation, PS2, PSP and PS4 eras (cloud play is only available in territories in where PS Now is already live). Streaming works on PS4, PS5 and PC, while native cloud gaming is not possible on mobile devices on the Sony network.

Well, the games. Sony confirmed just over 100 titles for PS Plus Extra and Premium, including demons 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 Wrath, monkey escape and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. The last game is included in the list as part of a deal to offer Extra and Premium subscribers a few dozen Ubisoft+ Classics games.

Most of the games on the Sony list are from the PS4 and PS5 generation, which is good news for Extra subscribers. However, Sony’s initial offering of old-school games feels thin despite being a defining feature of the premium tier. The focus is on PS3 games with 29 available to stream and relatively few titles from previous eras. While there are quite a few PS4 remasters of PS2 games on the list, including rogue galaxy and the Jak and Daxter series, Sony’s service to date has zero original PS2 games.

There’s still hope for nostalgia seekers out there – Sony said its list of classic games is an “early look at a selection of games that will be available” so there should be more.

Tokyo jungle

Japan studio

However, don’t look to PS Plus for new Sony blockbuster games. PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan told gamesindustry.biz in March that new first-party titles won’t hit PS Plus on day one, meaning subscribers will have to pay for them separately. This is notable given that Microsoft has made a big deal out of offering Game Pass subscribers its in-house titles at launch.

Ryan said his stance on day-one drops may change, but don’t expect titles like that for now Spiderman 2 or God of War Ragnarok on PS Plus at every level.

Xbox Game Pass

On the surface, Game Pass has been a successful endeavor for Microsoft, with 25 million monthly subscribers and counting. Game Pass unlocks access to a large library of games, old and new, including day-one releases of first-party titles like Halo: Infinite and starfield (ultimately); It works on Xbox consoles and PCs and includes cloud features that make the included games playable on mobile devices.

The Game Pass library includes around 300 games, although Microsoft continues to market the service as a low number of “100+” titles. The lineup ranges from the original Xbox to the current generation, 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 demise and its modern successors, ForzaHorizon 5, Mass Effect Legendary Edition and Microsoft flight simulatoras well as indie games including A blue memory, Kentucky Route Zero, Outer Wilds, The Door of Death and dive bar 2.

Microsoft has exclusive access to some of these games because it owns a significant portion of the video game industry. Xbox Game Studios has 23 development teams including id Software, Bethesda Softworks, Arkane, Ninja Theory, Playground Games, Double Fine and Mojang. All of this ensures Game Pass has an exclusive bank to draw from – in practice, PS Plus doesn’t get games from these studios unless Microsoft allows it. The opposite is also true of Sony’s exclusive list, but Microsoft just has more to do in this regard.

Halo The Master Chief Collection

343 branches

Game Pass only has PC and console tiers, which offer access to the library and not much more, and these cost $10 a month each. Neither option includes cloud gaming or Xbox Live Gold, which is required for online play of some titles and costs $10 a month alone. Microsoft doesn’t do much to market these standalone tiers, instead directing players to Game Pass Ultimate, the main focus of the Xbox subscription system.

Game Pass Ultimate costs $15 per month and offers Xbox Live Gold, cloud gaming capabilities, and access to all console and PC line games. This is the all-inclusive option that operates over the cloud on Xbox consoles, PC, and mobile.

PS Plus vs Game Pass

There are a few glaring differences between the new PS Plus and Game Pass. Sony’s subscription plan includes fewer games (for now), doesn’t include mobile streaming, and doesn’t offer access to new first-party titles from day one, meaning serious PlayStation fans will have to pay for those big drops separately.

In terms of pricing, let’s focus on the higher tiers: PS Plus Premium is $18 per month or $120 per year, and Game Pass Ultimate is $15 per month. The costs are comparable, but at the most flexible pricing level, Sony’s plan is $3 per month more than Microsoft’s. That’s an additional payment of $36 per year. Annually, however, PS Plus Premium costs $60 less than Game Pass Ultimate.

Of course, not only the costs play a role here. With competing subscription services, Sony and Microsoft are doubling down on their exclusivity as the primary source of momentum, and maintaining a rich and unique library will be key to the success of those plans. Xbox may have more than 20 studios, but Sony can still offer games Microsoft can’t and similar titles demons souls, Gravity Rush Remastered, Jungle of Tokyo, Ico and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla are a significant draw for longtime PlayStation fans.

However, the decision not to include first-party games in PS Plus from day one could lose Sony subscribers as well as some goodwill. The new PS Plus also seems to be missing some meat from its Classics catalog, a move that might put 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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