It seems like every company is looking to launch their own video game subscription service. The current generation of consoles brought the idea of games as a service rather than a product. In that sense, Netflix-esque subscriptions for players makes sense. After all, games are now more expensive than ever and developers want users to regularly spend money on microtransactions.
But there has yet to be a standout service that has set the standard for everyone else. While Netflix is a clear winner for television and movie streaming, the gaming market is still in flux. Of course, the fact that gamers are largely segregated in separate platforms also poses problems. This means that one company is unlikely to dominate, at least in the near future.
However, that doesn’t mean that there are not some subscription services that are better than others. Here are the pros and cons of each game subscription service so you can determine what works best for you.
Xbox Game Pass
Microsoft has invested strongly in Xbox Game Pass, its monthly subscription service for the Xbox platform. The company even expanded the service to include PC in June 2019. It includes more than 100 PC, Xbox 360, and Xbox One games.
Each of these can be downloaded and played for as long as the subscription is active. Users also get access to all first-party exclusives, like Gears 5 and Halo, as soon as they launch.
As an added benefit, subscribers also get special discounts for titles in the catalog. That means you can buy a game at a reduced price and keep it after leaving the service.
Membership options include a standard $9.99 console version as well as Ultimate Game Pass. With this option, players get the service on PC and Xbox One along with Xbox Live Gold for $14.99.
Sony was one of the first companies to see the benefit of a game subscription service. Launched in 2014, PlayStation Now allows players to gain access to more than 800 games from PlayStation’s back catalog. This includes titles from the PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, and the current era. Users can either download or stream games on PlayStation 4 or PC.
The major disadvantage, when compared to Xbox Game Pass, is that the service doesn’t boast most of the major titles from this generation. Many of Sony’s first-party exclusives often don’t make it onto PlayStation Now, even several years after release. PlayStation Now costs $9.99 a month or $59.99 for a year’s subscription.
Google Stadia is the internet giant’s first foray into gaming and a significant moment for subscription services. Games are streamed rather than downloaded, meaning that it can work on a variety of devices. For example, Google Stadia can be used on the Pixel 3 smartphone, on computers through the Chrome browser, or via a Chromecast Ultra. Google Stadia also supports 4K steaming at 60 frames per second as well as HDR and 5.1 Dolby surround sound.
However, there are several issues with the service since its November 2019 launch. Many players have reported difficulties with establishing a steady connection to stream games. Input latency is also a problem for fighting titles like Mortal Kombat.
Most importantly of all, though, is the fact that it currently has a very poor selection of titles available. Even when more games are added, they will generally have to be purchased as only a few are included for free as part of your subscription.
EA may not have the best reputation in gaming. Yet, it does have one of the better subscription services with EA Access. Almost all major games are available and titles are usually added to the vault within a year of their release.
EA Access has other benefits as well. The vast majority of new titles from the publisher can be played for up to 10 hours without a purchase. Any progress made in these trials then carries over if the game is purchased or is added to the vault later. Users can also buy EA games and DLC at a 10% discount.
EA Access is available on both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, although the Microsoft console has far more games in the vault. The service costs $4.99 a month, or save 50% by purchasing a yearly plan for $29.99.
Apple announced that they were setting up their own game subscription service at the start of 2019. Unlike the App Store, all the games in the Apple Arcade are premium titles designed specifically for the platform.
A major bonus compared with many other smartphone apps is that each game is ad-free and features no in-app purchases. Titles can be downloaded and played offline while the iCloud feature lets you sync save data across different devices. Apple Arcade is available for $4.99 a month on iOS, macOS, and tvOS.
Uplay+ is one of the newest game subscription services, launched in September 2019. It is similar to EA Access, as it gives players access to Ubisoft’s large library of games. There are currently more than 100 titles available to download, including the likes of Rainbow Six Siege and Assassin’s Creed.
Unfortunately, Uplay+ is only available on PC, although a Google Stadia version is in the works. The $14.99/month fee makes it one of the most expensive services, but it grants access to all Ubisoft games as they release. Additionally, players can play all premium content at no extra cost, including DLC and expansions.
Which game subscription service do you think is the best? Let us know in the comments below!