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 August 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.
PS Now gets a healthy dose of stealth and silliness this month with the addition of the excellent Hitman 2 (2018), a game that continues the renaissance of Agent 47 on modern consoles, giving players a plethora of highly imaginative ways to infiltrate a territory and take out their next target.
Elsewhere Greedfall (2019) joins PlayStation Now, an RPG made on a AA budget that won over its fanbase with strong story-telling reminiscent of last-gen Bioware titles, making it a cult hit.
Sony rounds out its month with a diverse variety of games in the shape of Dead Cells (2018), Power Rangers – Battle for the Grid (2019), WRC 8 FIA World Rally Championship (2019), Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr (2018), Pure Farming 2018 and AO Tennis 2 (2020).
Lego Worlds (2017) is the only game being, well…le’go in August.
Xbox Game Pass
A hefty haul this month for Xbox Game Pass with the biggest titles being all-time classic Final Fantasy VII HD (2019), top-down action/shooter Darksiders: Genesis (2019), cinematic choice-driven story The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan (2019), and the reboot of Rare’s 90s classic Battletoads (2020).
We also had the day of release inclusions of picturesque indie Spiritfarer (2020), Tell Me Why – Chapter 1 (2020) and New Super Lucky’s Tale (2020).
Factor in It Lurks Below (2019), Trailmakers (2018), UnderMine (2020), Xeno Crisis (2019), Don’t Starve: Giant Edition (2015), Hypnospace Outlaw (2019), Double Kick Heroes (2020) and Wastleland 3 (2020) and you’ve got the entire, seam-popping class of August 2020 for Xbox Game Pass.
It was a rough first half of August for Xbox Game Pass, only losing three games, but three games that, between them represented some of the best and most unique titles the service had to offer. These were Devil May Cry 5 (2019), Kingdom Come: Deliverance (2018) and Yoku’s Island Express (2018) – a fantastic game that we ranked at number two in our list of the best hidden gems on Xbox Game Pass. It didn’t help that the new games replacing them in this time period were almost all pretty unremarkable, so by mid-month the service actually felt a little worse than it had two weeks prior.
Several other titles are set to leave the service by the month’s end, namely: Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams – Director’s Cut (2014), Metal Gear Solid 2 & 3 HD (2011), Creature in the Well (2019), Metro: Last Light Redux (2014), The Jackbox Party Pack 3 (2014).
Winner – PlayStation Now
While the impressive number of new additions gracing Xbox Game Pass this month may appear overwhelming at first glance, closer inspection shows that this month’s update is weaker than it first appears. Let’s take Final Fantasy VII HD for example, it’s undoubtedly one of the greatest and most important games ever made, but is it a good addition to an on-demand service? It’s been available for over 23 years on almost every platform imaginable, often for less than £4, so it feels like anyone who’s all that interested in trying the game would have done so by now.
New Super Lucky’s Tale may be a ‘day of release addition’ but is actually just a revamped version of a game that’s already on Game Pass and critics are divided on whether the changes in this version are much of an improvement at all. Then there’s Tell Me Why. While it’s great that the game will be added to Game Pass, all that was added this month was Chapter One, and it’s hard to give too much weight to what’s essentially one third of a game.
Elsewhere, we got three different games centered around resource collection and management, shortly after the addition of No Man’s Sky, a practically never-ending game based around resource collection and management. This underlines a point made in last month’s feature – that Xbox Game Pass’ updates have lacked diversity in the last few months, especially as it feels like almost half the games added in that time have been 8/16 bit throwbacks that will only appeal to the more hardcore retro gamer.
To put it another way, if you’re a PS Now subscriber who’s mostly into retro indies you may enjoy the addition of the excellent Dead Cells and consider AO Tennis as something you have no interest in but appreciate that others would enjoy it.
If you’re a Game Pass subscriber who’s mostly into sport sims you may consider UnderMine as something you have no interest in but appreciate that others would enjoy, along with the 10-12 similar games they’ve received in the last three months, while lamenting the fact that you haven’t received a new sports sim since March when they added they NBA 2K20 – a brutally panned game with an average Metacritic userscore of 1.4 out of 10.
Still, all gripes aside, there are solid additions to both services this month, with Hitman 2 taking the MVP award for any one new addition, but a lot of fun to be found no matter which service you subscribe to. But factoring in the notable losses to Xbox Game Pass in August (we’re still not over losing Yoku’s Island Express), we’ve got to hand August 2020 to 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!