Arcade vs. game. The new PS Plus, the comparison we had to make

Aloe and Master Chef standing next to each other.

picture: Sony / Microsoft / Kotaku

Two months ago, Sony reimagined PS Plus, the long-term membership program for PlayStation owners. Now, it looks just like Microsoft Game Pass: for about the same amount of money, both offer access to a Netflix-style on-demand game library. Obviously, we had to stack the two services against each other.


price

Game Pass is available as a subscription for console, PC, or both. The two separate tiers cost $10 per month. Xbox Live Ultimate, which joins the two and provides access to EA Play Library (a similar on-demand game service) and Xbox Live Gold, costs $15 a month. There is no way to pay several months or a year in advance at a sliding scale (officially at least).

PS Plus is also available to subscribe, but it gets very complicated very quickly. There are two new levels. The Extra is $15 a month, or $100 a year, and offers free monthly games, online play, and a catalog of on-demand games including some from the Ubisoft library. Premium is $18 a month, or $120 a year, and it adds access to classic games, gaming experiences, and cloud streaming for most games in the library. That’s a huge difference in price, and while PS Plus Premium is more expensive month to month, it’s actually about 50 percent cheaper if you stick with the whole year.

Winner: PS Plus


flow

Game Pass allows streaming via the cloud, provided you pay for the more expensive Ultimate level. The streaming functionality is still technically “in beta”, but for all intents and purposes it’s up and running. Microsoft recommend Internet speeds of at least 10 Mbps for mobile devices and 20 Mbps for consoles and computers. Based on my boxTest, it’s… okay? Despite the massive developments in cloud gaming lately, streaming still can’t compete with downloaded games. Latency, no matter how small, cannot be ignored. As such, cloud games are best used with puzzle games, cool RPGs, light platform games, and other games that don’t require split-second reactions.

Microsoft says “more than 100” games are currently streamable via cloud gaming on Xbox Game Pass, but more games are added every few weeks. Right now, the Game Pass library currently lists 381 games as capable of streaming.

A cat bats a puddle in Stray.

Stray.
Screenshot: Annapurna / Kotaku

To unlock streaming on PS Plus you need to buy the $18 a month tier. And even then, the streaming quality is nothing to write home about. At best, it’s as good as Xbox Cloud Gaming. Sometimes it’s worse. Roughly 320 games from the Premium library can be streamed on console or PC, and a good chunk of those are PS3 games and classics rather than the full PlayStation 4 library. For example, Marvel’s Avengers and Stray are available on console but not in the streaming library.

Most notably, you can’t stream PS Plus games to your phone. For now, the service relies on Remote Play, meaning you need a console to play on mobile and you must be on the same WiFi network.

Winner: Game Pass


Game Library

Of course, a games-on-demand service is only as good as the one thing it’s supposed to provide: games.

Right now, Xbox Game Pass library It has about 475 games, but that number includes the library across both levels, including 92 games that are currently part of EA Play. The main draw, of course, is that Microsoft puts its entire first-party portfolio on the platform. This also includes the main tent poles – like infinite aura And the Forza Horizon 5along with upcoming movies like starfield And the Redvale— which becomes available the day they leave. Third-party games tend to last for a year at most, although some, such as Rockstar’s open-world Hold ‘Em simulator, do. Red Dead Redemption 2It becomes unavailable after a few months. Unpredictable.

Two trees soar in the air in Halo Infinite.

infinite aura.
screenshot: 343 industries

The library also regularly rotates third-party games and often serves as a launchpad for independent gems. This year alone, tu Zelda-Such as JacketSnowboarding sim tearing downand puzzler-cum-dungeon-crawler Lot River All launched on Game Pass. (over here my boxList of the best under the radar games Currently available.) Developers have acknowledged my box That debut on Game Pass cuts into initial sales but is ultimately worth it to trade off in publicity.

PS Plus Extra currently includes about 430 PS4 and PS5 games, while Premium adds another 395 from PS1, PS2, PS3 (streaming only) and PSP. While the classics are a great bonus, the biggest draw so far is PlayStation exclusives like Horizon Zero DawnAnd the God of WarAnd the Spider-Man: Miles MoralesAnd the blood borne. Unlike Microsoft, Sony has committed not to put its latest release into service on the day and date, and if the arrival of a return a year after release is any indication, it seems like a good bet that gamers will have to wait at least a year up to 18 months before the latest items appear.

There are a lot of strong competitors in the third-party department. games like Final Fantasy VII RemakeAnd the victimAnd the controlAnd the the deathAnd the tetris effect They are all present, as in the Indies CelesteAnd the Outer PrairieAnd the dead cellsAnd the Virginia. The library has a lot of variety It was recently supported by the same day addition of stray, which is already a competitor to the 2022 GOTY. Ubisoft component led Assassin’s Creed Valhalla It’s also a powerful compliment. Meanwhile, Sony hasn’t proven that it is, or will be, as aggressive as Microsoft in courting a steady stream of third-party day and date additions. There is also no PC part in the library.

Winner: PS Plus


I see: Getting into this exercise, I just imagined it would paint a clear picture of Game Pass’s superiority, but these two services look completely identical to me – right down to the user interface – with Sony’s new PS Plus version marginally better in the few aspects it has. Prices are mostly the same, but the 1-year PS Plus “discount” payment option beats Game Pass in this regard. Sure, the big draw of Game Pass is that it puts Microsoft’s first-party games into service at launch, but… Microsoft hardly has any first-party games this year! For now, this feature seems like more than just a marketing line.

Ethan: I also thought Game Pass would be the clear winner from this, but now I’m conflicted as well. Not everyone can afford an entire year up front, but it actually changes the calculus in that matching. There are a few other key differences as well, and while I don’t think they make one a clear winner over the other, I think that makes it easier for you to decide which one you want to pay for. Would you like instant access to a catalog containing some of the biggest and best games of the last generation? PS Plus wins. Want to stay up to date with some of the best new games coming out every month and play them anytime on your phone? Then Game Pass is along the way.