PlayStation Plus has always been considered a necessity for PS3, PS4 and PS Vita owners. The service doles out value on a monthly basis, offering a substantial backlog across Sony’s trio of systems and ensures subscribers will always have new games to play for their respective consoles/handhelds.
And if you own all three platforms, Sony has you covered with cross-buys that deliver copies on two different systems.
For $50 a year you get access to two free games every month for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita.
PS3 owners are getting the major benefit thanks to the system’s age and selection of yesteryear AAA games–titles like Batman: Arkham Asylum and Borderlands 2 have been offered.
The PS4’s PS Plus offerings are different. Instead of being a major selling point, Sony has taken to offering popular indie games to bolster the PlayStation 4’s retail selection. So far we’ve seen indie greats like Don’t Starve, Outlast, Resogun and Binding of Isaac: Rebirth as free titles.
But how much value does PlayStation Plus really represent? In 2014 Sony dished out a total of $1349 worth of games in North America and £960 in Europe across PS3, PS4 and PS Vita. And that’s just for this year alone.
Despite free games, PS Plus also delivers unique features like the PS4’s innovative Share Play option. You also get exclusive discounts on new and upcoming games as well as online multiplayer.
Considering most of us are playing titles like Bungie’s MMOFPS cross-over Destiny, PS Plus is already required and the free games are an extra perk.
PlayStation Plus has its downside, too. If you interrupt your paid subscription you lose access to your entire library of free games granted by the service. That’s across all three platforms.
Additionally free trials only work at the start of your PS Plus subscription. That means if you’re light on money you can’t float your subscriptions with 30-day free trial codes–you have to cough up money right away or miss out on your collection.
Sony isn’t the only one who is doing this kind of thing, though: Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) is keen on tapping into this model with their own Xbox LIVE service.
Games With Gold has been going strong on Xbox 360 for some time, but the company has only recently brought it over to the Xbox One. Both systems get two free games a month, with the older Xbox receiving the same weighted content as the PS3 with PS Plus, while Xbox One is left out in the cold with somewhat lackluster indies.
Even though Games With Gold on Xbox One is markedly less substantial than the PS4’s PS Plus offerings, the project continues to gain momentum. To date Microsoft has dished out almost $600 worth of games across both new and old Xbox’s. And you also get discounts with Deals With Gold across both platforms.
But like PS Plus, Xbox LIVE is required for online multiplayer, so for many the free games and discounts are added perks to something they’d be subscribed to anyway.
Earlier this year Microsoft changed their policy so that gamers no longer needed Xbox LIVE Gold memberships to watch Hulu or Netflix, but of course you’re still locked out of your Games With Gold library if the sub is interrupted.
In any case, Microsoft has a ways to go to catch up to Sony’s established and long-running value with PS Plus, but both companies do things a little differently.
In many ways Xbox LIVE Gold and PlayStation Plus are the same, but their differences–mainly in the selection and quantity of free games–remain clear. Sony does have an extra platform with the PlayStation Vita, but who knows?
We might see some interesting action with Windows Phone games thrown into the mix on Microsoft’s side.