What's the difference?
Xbox Game Pass (Microsoft) and PlayStation Now (Sony) are each of its respective company's answer to Netflix for games. In the case of Xbox Game Pass, no streaming is required, but both services are monthly subscriptions that give you access to a rotating catalog with hundreds of titles. Despite the similarities on the surface, there are a few key differences between Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Now that set them apart from one another.
|Category||PlayStation Now||Xbox Game Pass|
|Price||$60/year or $10/month||$120/year or $10/month|
|Number of games||Over 800||Over 600|
|Download||Only certain titles||Yes (all games)|
|Previous generation games||Yes (PS2, PS3, PS4)||Yes (Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One)|
|Available regions||19 countries||40 countries|
|Bundled with online service||No||Yes (Xbox Game Pass Ultimate)|
|Exclusives launch into service||No||Yes|
|Offers discounts on games||No||Yes|
What these features mean to you
Why should you care whether you can stream or download games? What does it mean that Xbox Game Studios games launch into the service the day of their retail release? We'll answer these questions for you and why they should matter when you consider buying either service.
PlayStation Now vs. Xbox Game Pass: Streaming vs. downloading
PlayStation Now lets players stream every game in its catalog to PS4 or PC, but only 300 of its over 800 games can be downloaded to PS4 and PS5. In contrast, Xbox Game Pass is not a streaming service. Each game you want to play through Xbox Game Pass is downloaded onto your console, just like it would be if you bought the game digitally.
Downloading a game directly to your console will always yield a better result than streaming one. Imagine your day browsing Netflix, and you're in the middle of a binge, then the show starts buffering. Now imagine that, but while playing a game. Maybe it doesn't register your button presses right away, or maybe it freezes altogether. Your streaming quality is dependent on your internet speeds, and you don't have complete control over it.
Even though you can download games with Xbox Game Pass, you don't technically own them — you technically don't truly own any games you buy, but that's a whole other conversation. Regardless, whenever you choose to cancel your Xbox Game Pass subscription or just let it expire, you'll lose access to every game you downloaded through it unless you bought them outright and paid full price.
Xbox recently did away with the Xbox Live branding in favor of the Xbox Network, and it also opened up free-to-play multiplayer games for everyone, no Xbox Live Gold required. Despite this, you still need Xbox Live Gold to play certain multiplayer games on Xbox Game Pass if they aren't normally free-to-play. PlayStation, however, lets everyone play multiplayer games on PS Now regardless if they have a PS Plus subscription.
Xbox exclusives launch into Xbox Game Pass
One of the main selling points of Xbox Game Pass, and what makes it such an attractive offer, is that Xbox exclusive games launch into the service the same day they launch at retail worldwide. That means for just $10/month, you could play a brand new $60 game without shelling out that kind of cash. This also goes for all exclusives published or developed by Xbox Game Studios. Gears 5? Launched into Xbox Game Pass. The Outer Worlds? Also launched into Xbox Game Pass. When Halo: Infinite comes out, you can be sure it'll launch into Xbox Game Pass, too.
PlayStation Now, on the other hand, doesn't offer anything close to this. Yes, over 100 PlayStation exclusives are available on PlayStation Now, but they're all several months or years old. Sony exclusive games do not launch into PlayStation Now.
Despite Xbox Game Pass clearly offering a better value for newer exclusive releases, its total library has about half the number of games that PlayStation Now does. PlayStation Now currently has over 800 games — including PS2, PS3, and PS4 titles — while Xbox Game Pass only has about 600 games, including original Xbox, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.
EA Play and Bethesda
To further boost its library, Xbox Game Pass also includes EA Play titles and everything Bethesda offers going forward (along with some of its best classics). With Microsoft having purchased Zenimax, that means the Elder Scrolls 6 and Starfield will launch into Xbox Game Pass on day one, and they could potentially even be exclusive to the Xbox platform.
Xbox Game Pass Quests
Xbox Game Pass Quests are a way for subscribers to earn Microsoft Rewards points by playing games in the XGP library. These points are redeemable through the Microsoft Store for Xbox gift cards, in-game content, games, devices, movies, apps, accessories, and more.
Quests range from daily, weekly, and monthly objectives and can be as simple as earning an achievement in a particular game or completing another task. For example, at the time of writing) players can earn 200 Microsoft Rewards points by slaying 15 enemies in Dragon Age: Inquisition.
Discounts on games
There is a way around this. With Xbox Game Pass, members can save up to 20% on included games, and they also get discounts on DLC. If you buy a game using your Xbox Game Pass discount, you'll still be able to play it after your subscription lapses.
Sony offers no equivalent discounts for PlayStation Now members, and you also lose access to any games you downloaded through PlayStation Now if your subscription ends and you haven't bought them.
PlayStation Now and Xbox Game Pass both support PC to play, but Xbox Game Pass is far more reliable because games can be downloaded to PC. PlayStation Now only allows subscribers to stream games to their PC. However, not every Xbox Game Pass game is available on PC.
Despite Sony being a Japanese company, its PlayStation Now service is lacking in its available regions. Xbox Game Pass is available in over twice as many countries around the world.
PlayStation Now: Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States.
Xbox Game Pass: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Czech Rep, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States.
Microsoft and Sony both have premium online memberships called Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus, respectively. These subscriptions give players access to online multiplayer and exclusive benefits like discounts and a couple of free games every month. Both cost $60/year.
Microsoft bundles Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Live Gold together into a package called Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. It makes no sense to buy two separate services when you could bundle it up into one convenient package for many people. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is $15/month, equivalent to $180/year, which is the exact amount you'd be spending on a year of Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Live Gold together. You're not exactly saving any money, but Microsoft frequently offers deals on Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for those who have Xbox Live Gold and would like to upgrade.
Sony does not offer any bundles of PlayStation Now and PlayStation Plus. If you want to buy a year-long membership of PlayStation Now along with 12-months of PlayStation Plus, it'll set you back $120. If you subscribe to PlayStation Now monthly instead, you'll end up paying $120 for the entire year (at $10/month) plus an additional $60 if you buy PlayStation Plus.
Project xCloud — or Xbox Game Pass for Android, as it's now known — is Microsoft's game streaming service that's still in beta, though it's available to everyone with Game Pass. It differs from PlayStation Now's streaming capabilities in that it allows players to stream to mobile and tablet devices. Think of xCloud as something more akin to Google Stadia. While Sony's PlayStation Now lets players stream games before either of the aforementioned services, it also hasn't evolved much since its debut. PS Now members can only stream to PS4 and PC.
PlayStation Now vs. Xbox Game Pass: Which is better?
When it comes to the value you're getting, Xbox Game Pass easily bests PlayStation Now as a game subscription service. Every game is downloaded, new exclusive games launch into it, and it's available in more countries. PlayStation Now is a good alternative if you're looking to save money and want to play exclusive games, but it's still an inferior service to Xbox Game Pass, all things considered.
The best there is
Xbox Game Pass
King of the hill for now
Xbox Game Pass released as a terrific service and only continues to get better and better as Microsoft adds games to it. It might seem like a lot of money, but well worth the price given everything it offers. Bundle it up with Xbox Live Gold, and you're good to go.
Good, but not great
PlayStation Now has some work to do
With its recent price drop, it's easy for me to recommend PlayStation Now to people, especially given some of the exclusive games Sony offers through it. However, it's still playing catch up to Xbox Game Pass in overall quality and value.
We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.