How the new PlayStation Plus stacks up against Xbox Game Pass | Engadget

How the new PlayStation Plus stacks up against Xbox Game Pass | Engadget

More than a month after revealing 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 at a discrete price point and offering varying levels of goodies, and it’s all set to go live on June 13th 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, Xbox Game Pass from Microsoft.

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 a month or $100 a year, and provides 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 a month or $120 a year, and adds up to 340 games from the original PlayStation, PS2, PSP, PS3 and PS4 eras. This is also where streaming comes into play: Sony is folding its existing cloud service, PlayStation Now, into the new Plus ecosystem, but only at its most expensive level. Premium adds the ability to play a selection of PS3 titles from the cloud, and stream or download lower-tier games from original PlayStation, PS2, PSP and PS4 eras (cloud play is only available in territories where PS Now is already live). Streaming will work on PS4, PS5 and PC, while native cloud gaming on mobile devices isn’t possible on Sony’s network.

Now, the games. Sony confirmed just over 100 titles heading 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 Wrath, Ape Escape and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. That last game is included in the list as part of a deal to offer 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 lineup of old-school games feels thin, even though they’re a crucial feature of the Premium tier. There’s an emphasis on PS3 games, with 29 available to stream, and relatively few titles from earlier eras. While there are some PS4 remasters of PS2 games on the list, including Rogue Galaxy and the Jak and Daxter series, so far Sony’s service 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 to come.

Tokyo Jungle

Japan Studio

However, don’t look to PS Plus for new, blockbuster Sony 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 separately for them. This is notable because Microsoft has made a big deal out of offering its in-house titles to Game Pass subscribers at launch.

Ryan said his stance on day-one drops could change, but for now, don’t expect titles like Spider-Man 2 or God of War Ragnarök on PS Plus at any tier.

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 old and new games, including day-one releases of first-party titles like Halo: Infinite and Starfield (eventually); it functions across Xbox consoles and PCs, and it includes cloud features that make the included games playable on mobile devices.

The Game Pass library has around 300 games, even though Microsoft continues to market the service with a lowball figure of “over 100” titles. The lineup spans the 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: Infinite, the original Doom and its modern follow-ups, Forza Horizon 5, Mass Effect Legendary Edition and Microsoft Flight Simulator, as well as indie games including A Memoir Blue, Kentucky Route Zero, Outer Wilds, Death’s Door and Spelunky 2.

Microsoft has sole access to some of these games because it owns a significant portion 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 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 inverse is also true for Sony’s roster of exclusives, but Microsoft simply has more to work with in this regard.

Halo The Master Chief Collection

343 Industries

Game Pass has PC-only and console-only tiers providing 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 necessary to play some titles online and costs $10 a 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 scheme.

Game Pass Ultimate costs $15 a month and offers Xbox Live Gold, cloud gaming features, and access to every game in the console and PC lineup. This is the all-inclusive option, operating 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, meaning serious PlayStation fans will have to pay for these big drops separately.

In terms of pricing, let’s focus on the top tiers: PS Plus Premium runs $18 a month or $120 a year, and Game Pass Ultimate is $15 a month. The cost is comparable, but at its most flexible pricing level, Sony’s plan is $3 a month more than Microsoft’s. That’s an extra payment of $36 a year. Annually, though, PS Plus Premium is $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 a main source of momentum, and maintaining a rich and unique library will be key to the success of these plans. Xbox may own more than 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 significant draw for longtime PlayStation fans.

That said, the decision to not include first-party games day-one in PS Plus 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 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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