Microsoft's big Xbox Series X showcase went off without a hitch, featuring the gameplay reveal of Halo: Infinite along with a quick tease of the rumored Fable game coming from Playground Games. I wasn't really impressed by most of these announcements, personally — though I do look forward to Avowed — but regardless of how I felt about the games themselves, more importantly, Xbox Game Pass stole the show. Sony's PlayStation Now service just can't compete right now. That's going to be an issue when the PS5 comes out.
An Xbox Game Pass subscription usually goes for $10/month, going all the way up to $15/month if you buy Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which includes a subscription to Xbox Live Gold. For $15 a month, you're getting access to Xbox Live, Xbox Game Pass, and soon, Project xCloud. This is a huge win for Microsoft. Members get day one exclusive games and they can be streamed to your phone or tablet.
PlayStation Now just can't compete with what Xbox Game Pass offers.
PlayStation Now, comparatively, is... decent. It's certainly come a long way from its initial release, but it doesn't offer anywhere near what Game Pass does. Sony exclusives don't launch day one into the service. It's packed separately from PlayStation Plus, and its streaming is only available for select games on PC. You could get PS4 Remote Play to stream any games you already own, but Sony's streaming service isn't up to snuff with the competition. Plus, you can't stream PS Now games through it.
What could be a boon for Sony in the streaming sphere is its partnership with Microsoft. The two tech giants announced in 2019 that they had partnered to develop new cloud gaming and streaming technologies. Specifically, Sony now has access to Microsoft Azure data centers around the world, which powers Project xCloud.
Sony's PS5 event, where the console was finally revealed, focused mostly on games and hardware, and less on services. Whenever that rumored PS5 State of Play is expected to take place, I think Sony needs to emphasize what it can offer players other than world-class exclusives. Don't get me wrong, I love those, but I can't keep spending $60 (or $70) a pop every time one comes out.
As it stands, I don't subscribe to PlayStation Now. I do have an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription. From the moment I bought Game Pass, I knew I would continue my subscription. How can I beat getting to play Gears 5 the day it came out when I know I would never have purchased it outright? I can't. And because of that, I've discovered a lot of new games I love that I normally would have passed on.
This is the kind of value that Sony needs to offer.
This is the kind of value that Sony needs to offer going forward into the next generation. The PS5 already has a lot of things going for it; I just think Sony needs to make that extra push when it comes to services. Hopefully, the company will do so before the PS5 releases.
The PS5 is expected to hit store shelves this holiday, around the time the Xbox Series X launches. Neither next-gen console has a release date yet, nor do we know a price. Both Sony and Microsoft have been pretty tight-lipped in that regard, and we're waiting with bated breath to see who will speak first. When the PS5 does arrive, you can expect games like Spider-Man: Miles Morales.