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 around 200 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 September 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 holds the distinction of hosting the best new addition to either service this month in the form of Final Fantasy XV. I could write a whole feature about how good this game is (and kind of already have!), but suffice to say for now that not only is this one of the absolute best games of the generation, but one missed by a lot of potential fans owing to some underwhelming reviews. This is thanks in part to a disproportionate amount of focus being given to one sub-par section of the game and not enough attention given to the fact that almost every other aspect of it is near perfect.
Elsewhere PS Now adds WWE 2K19 – a game that, although showing signs of the complacency that would lead to the series’ downfall a year later, is one of the stronger entries in recent years and offers a lot of fun for both wrestling fans and non-fans alike. Rounding out the month are landmark horror Resident Evil 7 Biohazard and indie thriller Observation.
It’s a small list with a big impact as both Control and Shadow of the Tomb Raider come to the end of their residency on PS Now. Control was undoubtedly one of the best games on the service and while Shadow of the Tomb Raider failed to clear the bar set by its predecessors in the rebooted trilogy, it is an enjoyable adventure and a notable loss to the PS Now lineup.
Though as always with these limited-time PS Now titles, the loss is somewhat mitigated by the fact that their availability (six months in this case) was made clear from the outset so anyone interested in playing these games has had plenty of time to do so.
Xbox Game Pass
In a rare coincidence, both services share a major new addition, with Resident Evil 7: Biohazard featuring as Xbox Game Pass’ main attraction for the month, effectively cancelling each other out for the purposes of our comparison.
Aside from its popular AAA headliner, Xbox Game Pass enriched its library with some low-key but high quality inclusions of Castlevania-like Touhou Luna Nights and stylised arcade racer Hotshot Racing.
Also included in this month’s update were acclaimed indie Night in the Woods, The Jackbox Party Pack 4, Warhammer: Vermintide 2, Tell Me Why Chapters 2 and 3, Black Desert, Stranger Things 3: The Game, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics and the Forsaken and Shadowkeep expansions for Destiny 2.
In May 2020, Red Dead Redemption 2 came to Game Pass and we predicted that it wouldn’t be around for very long. When discussing short tenure and sudden removal of Grand Theft Auto V from the service that same month, we said that this should be seen as a “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.”
Well four months later and without much notice Red Dead Redemption 2 has indeed left Xbox Game Pass. While this wasn’t considered a great new addition due to its massive sales figures indicating that most subscribers are likely to have already played it, having a gargantuan world to get lost in for months (or even years what with Red Dead Online) pulled from beneath them with so little warning will be very disappointing for anyone who has only recently taken the dive into Rockstar’s wild west epic.
Game Pass saw a couple more major titles leave the service this month, but neither really make much of an impact in this comparison. NBA 2K20 bids farewell to the service after joining earlier this year, but this is a game that’s been so heavily criticised by players that it doesn’t feel like it will be particularly missed.
September also sees Rocket League tossed to the curb, but considering the game also went free-to-play this month this decision is just sensible. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see PS Now follow suit and remove the game from its own library soon.
GoNNER: Blueberry Edition, Jump Force, Bad North: Jotuun Edition, Yooka-Laylee, Westerado: Double Barreled, DiRT: Rally 2.0 and Panzer Dragoon Orta are all either set to leave the service by month’s end or have been sent packing already.
Winner – Xbox Game Pass
In recent months we’ve criticised Xbox Game Pass for padding out its new additions with low budget (and often low quality) titles, but more so for the lack of variety in how these games look and play. Well it’s certainly bucked that trend this month by offering a refreshing diversity – AAA blockbusters, small-town narrative focused indies, an arcade racer, an MMO, a board game bundle, etc. – whatever takes your fancy, Game Pass has probably got something you’ll enjoy.
What’s more there’s some real gold to be found in that lineup even outside of the mainstream releases. Touhou Luna Nights can be easily overlooked but is an absolute joy to play, adding a novel twist to the blueprint set out by Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, while the addictive Hotshot Racing offers hours of fun with the kind of easily accessible multiplayer racing that’s not as prominent as it used to be.
There’s no real criticism to be levied against PS Now’s lineup – as is often the case it’s compact but it’s all killer, no filler. A lineup like this would be enough to take the win in previous months especially when accompanied by a more dominant win in the ‘farewells’ section, but hobbled by the loss of two of its biggest games and against this strong Game Pass lineup, this time it just wasn’t to be.
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 gems on PlayStation Now and the best hidden gems on Xbox Game Pass and find your next favourite game!