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As subscription-based, on-demand gaming services have gained popularity in recent years, both PlayStation Now and Xbox Game Pass have established their positions at the top of the market by offering a variety of content and great value for subscribers. There’s just one burning question demands to be answered: Which one is better?
It’s a tough one. Each has advantages over the other – PS Now has more attractive pricing plus its library of 700+ titles makes Game Pass’ library of 200+ titles look paltry in comparison, whereas Xbox Game Pass tends to offer more recent games as well as including first party titles on the day of release.
It’s hard to say which one is better overall, but taken one month at a time, we may get our answer. So join us as we look at what’s been added and what was removed from each service and declare which one came out on top in May 2020.
Sidebar: If you’d like to find out more about before venturing on a subscription to either PS Now or Xbox Game Pass, check out our feature examining the pros and cons of PS Now where we investigate how it stands up against its biggest competitors.
Heading the charge for Sony this month is Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege (2015), the critically acclaimed squad based online shooter that has already drained hundreds of hours from the lives of its dedicated fans. Developer Ubisoft has continued to expand and improve this game since release, ensuring that it gets better year after year.
Elsewhere, Sony has made the irresponsible business decision of potentially scaring PS Now subscribers to death by including tense psychological thriller Get Even (2017) and The Evil Within 2 (2017), a treasure of a horror survival game that follows protagonist Sebastian Castellanos as he searches the terrifying, ghoul infested town of Union in search of his lost daughter. The game has a heavy Silent Hill vibe and is probably the closest thing to a P.T. full release we’ve had this generation.
Some good news for potential new subscribers as well as those looking to extend their subscriptions came late in the month as it was announced that, as part of Sony’s Days of Play sale, PlayStation Now subscriptions would receive a sizable discount. In the UK, a 12 month PS Now subscription has been reduced from £49.99 to £34.99, with some retailers going as low as £29.85. This feels like a steal when you consider that it’s only around £6 more expensive than the cost of a three month Xbox Game Pass subscription.
None. PS Now’s lineup remains pristine as a fresh layer of winter snow.
Xbox Game Pass
Microsoft has come out with guns blazing this month. The absolute giant at the forefront of Xbox Game Pass’ lineup is sprawling western epic Red Dead Redemption 2 (2018). Arguably the most celebrated game of the generation, this open world masterpiece gives players control of outlaw Arthur Morgan as he seeks to found a better life in the dying years of the wild west.
Another epic joining the ranks this month is the remastered version of Final Fantasy IX (2000), a favourite in the long-running JRPG franchise that ranks in the personal top five Final Fantasy titles of many a fan.
Rounding out the month for Team Xbox are DayZ (2019), Fractured Minds (2017), Golf with your Friends (2020), Alan Wake (2010), Minecraft Dungeons (2020) and the return of Cities: Skylines (2017).
The biggest ‘farewell’ this month is Grand Theft Auto V (2014). This departure is worth analysing, both as a comparison of how each service presents titles leaving the service and as a potential warning.
Toward the end of 2019, PS Now added GTA V to its library and stated that it would be available for three months. Whenever the game was advertised, the date of departure was stated and if you checked the game in the library, a countdown clock would display how many more days the game would be available. After leaving PS Now, the title became available on Xbox Game Pass. Here, no end date was given, but outlets reporting the update hinted that it would be a long-term arrangement.
Three months later and with only two weeks’ notice, GTA V was removed from Game Pass. This has to be particularly disappointing to those who hadn’t found the time to play the game and perhaps even more so for those that only managed to get part way through its story or had just laid the foundations of their empire in the game’s mind-bendingly massive online mode.
The main reason that this series of events has been put under the microscope here is as a potential warning for those keen to play Red Dead Redemption 2. While the length of its tenure on Game Pass has not been stated, if it’s on your ‘to-play list’, we’d suggest moving it straight to the top.
Following GTA V out the door this month are:
Black Desert (2019)
Lego Ninjago Movie Video Game (2017)
Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 (2017) – Consisting of Mega Man 7, 8, 9 and 10
Metal Gear Survive (2018)
The Banner Saga (2016)
Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus (2017)
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (2015)
Hydro Thunder Hurricane (2015)
Old Man’s Journey (2017)
The King of Fighters 98 Ultimate Match (2008)
Winner – Umm…it’s close. Let’s break this one down and maybe that will give us an answer
Every time we compile one of these features we seem to stumble upon a new question about what exactly makes a good update, and this month’s question is a doozy: Can a game be so popular that it’s a poor addition to a games on-demand service?
Yes. Red Dead Redemption 2 is arguably the best game added to either service, but it also happens to be one of the 15 best selling games of all time, with over 31 million units sold as of writing. Xbox Game Pass has around 10 million active subscribers, and chances are that if someone has a subscription, they’re more than just a casual gamer. It seems safe to say that there’s going to be a lot of crossover, and while we can’t say what percentage of subscribers have never played Red Dead Redemption 2, we’d guess it’s a small minority.
A similar argument can be made of Final Fantasy IX – it’s an all-time classic for sure, but one that’s been available for 20 years on almost every platform imaginable. There’s certainly an audience for it in people who are new to the series, but chances are that most Game Pass subscribers either don’t like turn-based JRPGs or do like them, but have already played FFIX.
On the other hand, look at PlayStation Now’s update and you’ll find an ambitious, unique indie, a AAA gem that flopped commercially so was missed by all but the most dedicated horror aficionado and an ocean deep multiplayer title that’s beloved by its players and considered one of the best online experiences available. This is essentially a cross-section of the types of game that are ideal additions to this kind of service.
Despite the big names on Game Pass, if this was a case of PlayStation Now’s three additions versus Xbox Game Pass’ three biggest, we’d go PS Now, but of course that’s not the case. It’s not three vs three, it’s three vs eight and those five extra games boost Xbox Game Pass to a comfortable win in the ‘New Additions’ category. The only question remaining is whether that boost is undermined or even negated by the 15 games leaving the service in May?
Grand Theft Auto V seems like a big loss on paper, but much like its cowboy cousin, its impact is mitigated by the fact that the vast majority of subscribers would have already played it. Still, there are a few big hitters cast out in the cold this month. It’s close but we’re going to have to say…
…Winner (by the tightest of margins) – PlayStation Now
That’s our wrap-up for this month, but if you happen to be a subscriber to either service and are wondering what to play next, check out our list of the best hidden games on PlayStation Now and the best hidden games on Xbox Game Pass and find your next favourite game! No need to thank us, your undying love and the occasional fruit basket will do just fine.