What started as a new idea with Xbox Game Pass has become a necessity for any serious game developer. Microsoft has changed the gaming landscape by continuing to improve the offerings on Xbox Game Pass with more exclusive and premium titles. Other developers have felt the changing tides and tried to adapt, but it has resulted in a flooded market with too many options to understand.
With Sony recently launching its Game Pass Ultimate competitor in PS Plus Premium, even more games are available for a low monthly fee. Each individual gamer’s needs are unique, so there is never one best subscription service, but it’s important to evaluate the options available before getting started. For each available game subscription, gamers should consider what it offers, and most importantly, the cost.
Xbox Game Pass is the original game subscription that everyone is trying to keep up with. Game Pass has a plethora of games across genres that provide players with a full gaming experience, from small indie games to AAA money makers. However, there are a few different levels that Xbox offers.
Xbox Live Gold costs $10 a month, or $25 for three months, and allows subscribers to play online games with friends. Players also get two free games each month through Games with Gold. Also for $10 a month is Xbox Game Pass for console or PC. These subscriptions offer over 100 games, with titles rotating in and out, and deliver Microsoft titles on launch day. The PC version also has access to EA Play games.
The last and best tier from Microsoft is Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. For $15 per month, Ultimate subscribers get access to all the benefits of both the console and PC versions of Game Pass, Xbox Live Gold, EA Play, Xbox Cloud Gaming, and exclusive deals on the Microsoft Store. If players want the full Microsoft gaming suite, Ultimate is the way to go.
On the Sony side, PlayStation has just released its new PS Plus tiers: Essential, Extra and Premium. For $10 a month (or $60 for a year), PS Plus Essential allows users to play online multiplayer and get two free games a month. PS5 owners also get access to the PS Plus collection which adds 20 of the best PS4 games at no extra cost. The next tier is PS Plus Extra, which offers all the benefits of Essential and a catalog of over 400 of the best PS4 and PS5 games for $15 a month or $100 for a year. Finally, there is PS Plus Premium for $18 per month or $120 per year. Premium offers the features of Extra, Essential and more than 340 additional games from PS3, PS2, PSP and the original PlayStation. These titles are available via cloud streaming or download on a PS5, PS5 or PC. Most games from the PS Now service have also been added to PS Plus Premium via cloud streaming.
Nintendo also has its own subscription service for the Nintendo Switch. Nintendo Switch Online costs $4 a month, $8 for three months, or $20 for a year, and offers subscribers access to Nintendo’s online multiplayer service, cloud saver, and voice chat. Players can also choose from a library of over 100 classic NES and SNES games. In addition to the regular Switch Online offerings, users can also subscribe to the Nintendo Switch Expansion Pack for $50 per year, which includes all of the above benefits, plus a library of Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis games, among other bonuses such as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe‘s Booster Course Pass.
Certain developers also offer game subscriptions. EA Play is the most popular, mainly because of its association with Xbox Game Pass, but gamers can also subscribe to EA Play. For $5 a month or $30 a year, the basic version includes access to a collection of premium EA games, exclusive EA Play rewards and member content, 10% off other EA games, and 10 hours of access to EA games for 10 days before launch. Players looking for more can subscribe to EA Play Pro, which offers the benefits of the base version, 50 additional EA titles, and unlimited access to pre-launch and new games. EA Play Pro costs $15 per month or $100 per year. Both versions are available on Xbox, PlayStation and PC.
For fans of Ubisoft titles, Ubisoft recently rebranded UPlay Plus as Ubisoft Plus and it is an excellent option. For $15 per month, subscribers receive 100+ premium editions of Ubisoft titles, including new releases available from day one. If games have DLCs or season passes, Ubisoft Plus subscribers will get access to all the top editions of the games. Ubisoft Plus is currently only available on PC, but for $18 a month, users can also access cloud streaming via Luna or Stadia.
Cloud Gaming Subscriptions
For gamers with high-speed internet access and no console, cloud gaming has emerged as an inexpensive option. Stadia from Google was one of the first big players in the cloud streaming market and also has a good subscription service. For just $10 a month, Stadia Pro subscribers get access to over 30 titles, with more added each month, and exclusive discounts on other games. In addition, Stadia Pro users get access to 4K and 5.1 surround sound streaming, compared to the standard 1080p and basic stereo sound.
Amazon also has a cloud gaming service called Luna. Luna is a bit different from other cloud gaming services as Luna allows users to subscribe to “channels” like Ubisoft Plus or Jackbox TV within the platform. Luna offers its own subscription channel, Luna Plus, for $9.99 per month and gives users access to a variety of games. Amazon Prime members can also access the Prime Gaming Channel on Luna and its collection of games such as Devil May Cry 5 and Observer: System Redux.
Mobile gaming has come a long way since the days of Flappy Bird. iPhone and iPad users can access Apple Arcade for $5 per month or $50 per year. Apple’s mobile gaming subscription gives users access to over 200 exclusive titles and comics from any advertising or in-app purchase. Players can also use Apple’s family sharing feature to give five family members access to Apple Arcade. Although not known as a game developer, Apple has quickly established itself as a leader in gaming.
For those who own Android or Google phones and tablets, Google Play Pass costs $5 per month or $30 per year. Google Play Pass provides access to over 800 games and, like Apple Arcade, is free of ads or in-app purchases and can be shared with up to five family members. Unlike Apple Arcade, Google Play Pass has no exclusives on its platform; it only provides access to games that typically require users to pay separately.
MORE: PS Plus Premium vs. Xbox Game Pass: A Complete Comparison