It seems like every time you turn around there’s another game subscription service popping up, with publishers all competing for your hard-earned dollar to give you an all-you-can-eat approach to their games catalog. From PlayStation Now to Xbox Game Pass and everything in between, we break down each of the biggest game subscriptions available today to help you decide which is best for you.
Note – all prices listed below are in USD, and will vary from country to country.
Every Xbox One First-Party Review
Platforms: iOS, macOS, tvOS
Trial Period: 1-month free
The latest player to enter into the subscription game is Apple with its new service, Apple Arcade.
Apple Arcade gives you access to over 100 premium games, all built exclusively for the service. One of its standout features is that all games included in Apple Arcade will be ad-free and none of them will feature any in-app purchases or microtransactions. Furthermore, all games can be downloaded to your device and played offline, which is great for people who utilize public transportation and can’t always be connected to the internet. A single subscription of Apple Arcade covers up to five people for one single price.
Your progress is synced across iCloud, allowing you to put the game down on your iPhone or iPad and pick it up on your Mac or Apple TV. And, with the latest software updates for all of Apple’s platforms, you can even pair your PlayStation 4 or Xbox One controller. New games will be added to the catalog each month.
Looking for more? Check out our recent hands-on impressions of Apple Arcade.
Platforms: PS4 & PC
Price: $59.99/12 mo., $24.99/3 mo., $9.99/mo.
Trial Period: 7-days free
Sony’s PlayStation Now service is currently the largest of the bunch in terms of revenue, generating over $143 million in 2018, accounting for 52% of the entire game subscription services market. It’s also been around the longest, starting back in 2014. The service was originally available for PS4, PS3, PS Vita, PS TV, and select Sony Bravia TVs, but has since ended support for older platforms.
Currently, you can stream PS4, PS3, and PS2 games to your PS4 or PC. Additionally, Sony added the ability to download PS4 and PS2 games last year for offline play, however, this feature is only available for PSN subscribers. PlayStation Now currently boasts the largest catalog of all the major streaming players, at over 800 games for $9.99 per month. If you’re interested in checking out PlayStation Now, Sony offers a 7-day free trial that you can take advantage of.
The best value is subscribing for the entire year, which only costs $59.99 – or the price of one full-priced game. The only downside to the service is that many of Sony’s biggest releases of this generation are suspiciously absent – including Horizon: Zero Dawn and Spider-Man, just to name a couple. It’s a great way to play through some of Sony’s back catalog, though, including God of War, The Last of Us, Bloodborne, and the original Uncharted trilogy of games on PS3.
Wondering what you should play? Check out our helpful index that lets you sort the entire PS Now catalog by review score, release date, and more.
Every IGN PlayStation First-Party Exclusive Review
Xbox Game Pass (+Ultimate)
Platforms: Xbox One & PC
Price: Console Only $9.99/mo, PC Only $9.99/mo ($4.99/mo. Introductory Price), Game Pass Ultimate (Xbox One & PC + Xbox Live Gold) $14.99/mo.
Trial Period: Xbox Game Pass Ultimate $2 for first two months
Even though Sony was first to the subscription party, Microsoft has just about perfected the formula with Xbox Game Pass. Xbox Game Pass allows you to play over 100 games as part of an ever-evolving catalog, including all of Microsoft’s first-party titles on the day they launch, such as Gears 5, Forza Horizon 4, and next year’s Halo Infinite as part of your subscription.
Earlier this year, Microsoft announced Xbox Game Pass Ultimate during an Inside Xbox presentation, which bundles together Xbox Game Pass for console and PC, and includes Xbox Live Gold. So, that means you have access to over 100 games on Xbox, over 100 games on PC, and get even more free games with Xbox’s Games With Gold – an additional benefit of Xbox Live Gold. Even better, Microsoft frequently runs promotions for Xbox Game Pass, like the current $2 deal, that you can stack with your existing Xbox Live Gold subscription, effectively replacing that membership with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for the remainder of your term.
If you don’t have an Xbox, Microsoft offers Xbox Game Pass for PC as a standalone service, which currently has an introductory price of $4.99 per month, giving you access to over 100 games on your PC. Similar to Netflix, the catalog is added to each month, with certain titles leaving each month. If there is a game you’d like to purchase, you’ll save 20% off the title with your subscription. Additionally, if you want to purchase any DLC or additional content for a specific game, you’ll save 10% on those purchases. Microsoft also includes Game Pass Quests – a set of monthly challenges for you to complete by playing games featured in Game Pass that reward you with points that can be redeemed for a number of items – including more Game Pass. It truly pays to play.
Google Stadia Pro
Platforms: Stadia-compatible devices (initially available on Google Pixel 3 phones, TV via Chromecast Ultra, laptops/desktops via Chrome browser, coming to iOS/other Android phones at a later date)
Trial Period: 3 months free included with Stadia Premiere Bundle ($129)
Google’s long-awaited Stadia platform is finally here…kinda. Currently, it’s only available for those who purchased the Stadia Founder’s Edition bundle that was announced earlier this year (now called Google Stadia Premiere). While the service is just okay in its current form, it’s missing many of the promised features which will now be added at a later date.
While you’ll be able to play Stadia for free starting in 2020, Founder’s Edition and Premiere Edition owners can begin now, either by purchasing any of the 22 games as part of the launch lineup individually, or playing Destiny 2: The Collection or Samurai Shodown, which are included with Stadia Pro. In addition to games being added to the service “regularly” (à la PlayStation Plus or Xbox Games With Gold), Stadia Pro will also be the only way to experience 4K/60 FPS with HDR gaming and 5.1 surround sound capabilities. Additionally Stadia Pro subscribers will also get special discounts on games not offered to Stadia Base (free) users.
Google Stadia Review in Progress
Platforms: PS4 & Xbox One
Price: $4.99/mo or $29.99/yr
Trial Period: None
EA Access is EA’s subscription service that was originally exclusive to Xbox One, however, it recently launched on PS4. The total catalog includes almost 80 games that spans EA’s vast catalog – however, each platform has its own subscription. Xbox One has the larger of the two catalogs at 77 games, including all four Mass Effect games, the Dragon Age series, many of the Battlefield games, and more.
PlayStation 4, on the other hand, contains only 45 games for the same price, including recent additions like Anthem
, Star Wars Battlefront II, and Battlefield V. EA’s popular sports franchises are all present, with the recent Madden 20 and NHL 20 included in the service, and FIFA 20 coming soon. Additionally, you’ll receive a 10% discount on all EA titles as an EA Access member, which includes DLC and add-ons for their titles. You’ll also gain early access to all EA games, allowing you to play their upcoming titles five days before they release. If you’re a big fan of annualized sports games, or don’t mind waiting for certain bigger titles to join the catalog, then EA Access is a great value at $4.99 a month. If you opt for the entire year, it’s only $29.99 – making it only $2.49 a month.
Price: Basic $4.99/mo or $29.99/yr, Premier $14.99/mo or $99.99/yr
Trial Period: None
Similar to EA Access on console, Origin Access is its PC-counterpart. The service is split into two tiers – Basic and Premier. Both Origin Access Basic and Origin Access Premier offer access to The Vault – an ever-growing catalog of games, featuring new and upcoming EA Originals – as well as plenty of third-party titles. With Origin Access Basic, you’ll gain access to 229 games, while enjoying a 10% discount on all Origin store purchases.
You’ll also be able to play the first 10 hours of upcoming releases, with your progress carrying over into the main game once it’s released. Origin Access Basic will run you $4.99 a month, or $29.99 for the year. Origin Access Premier, its flagship service for PC, features a current catalog of 240 games, and includes all of EA’s upcoming and recent games.
You’ll have early access to the full game prior to launch and also gain access to extra content with new EA releases. This ranges from DLC, add-ons, expansions, and more – with every game featuring over $20 of additional value. Origin Access Premier members also receive a 10% discount on all Origin store purchases, as well. Origin Access Premier will cost you $14.99 per month, or $99.99 for the entire year. If you are heavily invested in EA’s catalog of games, including all the biggest sports titles like FIFA and Madden, as well as Star Wars and Battlefield titles, then Origin Access Premier is a no-brainer.
Platforms: PC only at the moment, Google Stadia in 2020
Trial Period: Free until September 30th
During its E3 2019 press conference, Ubisoft announced UPlay+, a subscription-based service that gives players access to over 100 Ubisoft titles which include many popular franchises such as Assassin’s Creed, Watch Dogs, Tom Clancy games, and more. Similar to Xbox Game Pass and Origin Access Premier, you’ll have access to the latest Ubisoft titles the day they launch.
Currently, the service is only available on PC, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see a similar service launch for consoles in the future. Ubisoft has already confirmed that UPlay+ will be available on Google Stadia beginning in 2020. The current catalog includes recent titles like Tom Clancy’s The Division II, Far Cry New Dawn, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, and more, and will feature upcoming games such as Ghost Recon: Breakpoint, Watch Dogs Legion, Gods & Monsters, and many others.
With UPlay+ you’ll also have access to premium editions of certain games, which includes all expansions, DLC, and add-on content at no additional cost. This is currently the only service that offers this perk, as the others only offer a discount if you choose to purchase any additional content. Games that offer beta periods or early access trials are included in the subscription, as well, allowing you to play some games early. Currently, UPlay+ is available for $14.99 per month, with no annual plan, meaning the service will cost you $179.88 a year, or roughly the cost of three full-priced games. If you’re a fan of Ubisoft’s catalog, and plan on buying its upcoming titles, then UPlay+ is a great offer – if not for the premium edition of the games alone.
So, assuming you wanted to have it all, what would it cost you? If you are looking at subscribing on a month-to-month basis to all services, it will run you $74.94 each month. This includes access to Apple Arcade, PlayStation Now, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, EA Access, Origin Access Premier, and UPlay+. If you are looking for the best price, you’ll need to spend $328.97 up-front, then $34.97 a month for the additional services, which effectively works out to $54.13 per month – less than the price of one full-priced release. If you were to subscribe to every service, you’d have a catalog totalling over 1,500 games. If we assume the average cost of these games to be $30, that’s roughly $45,000 in value! With an average game length of about 20 hours, that means it would take you roughly 30,000 hours to play through everything – that’s almost 3 ½ years! And you thought your current backlog was daunting.
Which of these subscription services are you most likely to check out? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Matthew Adler is a freelance journalist and the mere thought of 1,500 unplayed games is anxiety-inducing for him. He’s happy just playing Borderlands 3 for the time being. You can follow him on Twitter @matthewadler.