Sony and Microsoft have both invested heavily in gaming subscription services for their PlayStation and Xbox consoles. These Netflix-style memberships bring more value to customers, letting players pay a monthly fee to gain access to hundreds of games.
Microsoft’s Game Pass is available on Xbox consoles and PC, and even has an option to stream games to mobile devices. Members get access to tons of popular titles, including all of Microsoft Studio’s brand-new games the same day they hit stores. Sony’s PlayStation Plus service offers similar features for PlayStation console owners, but lacks consistent day-one releases and mobile streaming support.
Gamers playing directly on either console can only use the service that matches their machine, but PC owners can use either service’s cloud gaming feature to stream titles. If you’re torn between a PlayStation or Xbox system, understanding the pros and cons of each service might help steer you toward one or the other. Here’s how Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Plus stack up when it comes to plans, pricing, and features.
Xbox Games Pass offers Console, PC, and Ultimate plans. The Console and PC plans each cost $10 a month, and both let you download hundreds of Game Pass titles to play on each respective platform.
For $15 a month, the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate plan combines PC and Console memberships, along with Xbox Live Gold ($10 monthly value) to play online multiplayer games, and the option to stream some Game Pass titles to your console, PC, mobile device, or Samsung TV.
PlayStation Plus also has three pricing tiers, but unlike Game Pass, every plan includes online multiplayer support. PlayStation Plus Essential is the entry-level tier which lets members claim a small selection of free games every month for $10 a month. This selection typically includes three titles.
PlayStation Plus Extra costs $15 a month, and adds access to a library of more than 400 downloadable PS5 and PS4 games. The top tier, PlayStation Plus Premium, costs $18 a month, and adds game streaming support for PlayStation consoles and PCs. Premium also includes access to a collection of retro PlayStation games going back to the PS1, PS2, PS3, and PSP.
In addition to monthly pricing options, PlayStation Plus gets slightly cheaper if you’re willing to pay for an annual or quarterly membership. Game Pass, however, is the same monthly price no matter how many months you sign up for, but Microsoft frequently offers a deal to get your first month of Game Pass Ultimate for just $1.
Online multiplayer and saves
All PlayStation Plus memberships include support for online multiplayer, but Game Pass members need to pay for the highest tier, Game Pass Ultimate, to get online play with their plan. Otherwise, Xbox players need a separate Xbox Live Gold membership ($10 a month) to unlock online play.
PlayStation Plus plans also unlock support for backing up PlayStation game saves to the cloud. Meanwhile, cloud saving support is actually included for free for all Xbox owners, so you don’t need Game Pass to use this feature.
Unlike Xbox Game Pass, all PlayStation Plus members also get the ability to share their screen with other PlayStation console owners online with a feature called Share Play. This lets you play multiplayer games as if you were playing offline, and share games with friends who may not have their own copy.
The main selling points of Game Pass and PlayStation Plus are their Netflix-style libraries of downloadable games. Both platforms include access to hundreds of titles, but they each take different approaches with their catalogs, especially when it comes to new releases.
Microsoft has committed to adding every new Xbox Studios game to Game Pass the same day they’re released in stores, while Sony waits several months to add its own high-profile releases, like Horizon: Forbidden West, to PlayStation Plus Extra and Premium.
Xbox Game Pass also offers day-one availability for highly anticipated indie titles like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge and online multiplayer games like Outriders. PlayStation Plus has started to add a few indie games to its catalog the same day they’re released, like Stray and Tchia, but there are less brand-new titles coming to the service.
Because Game Pass is also available on Windows PCs, certain games offer cross-platform play and shared cloud saves. That said, there are a handful of Game Pass titles that are only available on console or PC, not both.
Games will occasionally leave the Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Plus catalog, but the amount of time they’re available depends on the publisher. First-party games published by Microsoft and PlayStation tend to remain in the subscription library permanently, while games published by third-party developers, like Square Enix and 2K Games, are more likely to rotate out.
Classic titles from older consoles are rarely removed from either collection, while newer releases usually have a set timeframe before they leave. In general, most games will be on Game Pass for at least six months before you have to worry about them being removed. PlayStation Plus hasn’t had many games leave the collection so far, but Sony only launched the full library in 2022.
Cloud gaming support is included with the top tiers of Game Pass and PlayStation Plus. If you have a good internet connection, this feature lets you stream games to other devices so you can play select titles even if you don’t own an actual Xbox or PlayStation console.
Of the two platforms, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate offers a much more robust streaming experience with the option to stream games to Xbox consoles, PCs, phones, tablets, and even some Samsung smart TVs. Many games on mobile even offer touch controls, so you don’t need to worry about carrying a controller on the go.
On the other hand, PlayStation Plus Premium offers streaming directly to PS4 and PS5 consoles or PCs, but there’s no feature to stream your collection to mobile devices or smart TVs. Furthermore, you need a PlayStation 4 controller to stream games, and games designed for PlayStation 5 can’t be streamed yet.
The bottom line
PlayStation Plus and Xbox Game Pass both bring tons of value to their respective consoles, and even have benefits for gamers who don’t own an Xbox or PlayStation. However, Xbox Game Pass has had more time to develop a better overall experience for its members.
Game Pass offers more new games than PlayStation Plus, gives members discounts when buying games or investing in DLC add-ons, and works across both console and PC with few hassles.
From a technological standpoint, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate’s cloud streaming and accessibility go beyond what PlayStation Plus Premium offers for members too. Mobile streaming support even makes Game Pass a viable service for customers who just want to play games on their phones.
PlayStation Plus does include lots of critically acclaimed exclusive titles and an impressive catalog of classic games, but it still needs to expand its offerings and device support if it hopes to match the value of Xbox Game Pass in the future.
For now, Sony’s gaming service shows promise, but Microsoft’s membership is still the gold standard.