PlayStation Plus Premium review: can it compete with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate?
Sony’s new PS Plus subscription service currently isn’t worth the price of admission
Update: Sony has added several new titles to its PlayStation Plus games catalog, including 8 Yakuza games. However, it’s also introduced some new headaches for subscribers. You can’t play every Yakuza title unless you have PlayStation Plus Premium, which is odd considering the games locked behind Premium are for PS4.
Sony is also recycling a lot of games that were originally given away as PS Plus free games, such as Bugsnax, and has only added a few PSP games to the selection of classic titles.
Original: Imagine if Netflix duplicated its existing service, gave it a shiny new name, and then charged you twice as much for it? Well, that’s what Sony has done with its new PlayStation Plus Premium subscription.
Okay, that may be a little harsh, but Sony’s revamped PlayStation Plus essentially brings the defunct PlayStation Now under the more successful PS Plus brand with a few minor tweaks.
That’s a smart move, as PlayStation Now has been eclipsed by Xbox Game Pass, which has amassed over 25 million subscribers. Consolidating PS Plus and PS Now into one attractive package makes perfect business sense, but the end product isn’t worth the price – at least not yet. Read my full PlayStation Plus Premium review below.
What do you get? 🤔
If you’ve ever subscribed to PS Plus and PS Now in the past, the vast majority of games included in the game catalog are basically the same as before. There are hundreds of PS4 titles to play, but PS5 games are also included – at long last.
Not every major first-party exclusive is here – Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, Horizon Forbidden West, Gran Turismo 7, and Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves are all missing – but there’s plenty to play if you haven’t already purchased some of the best PS5 games. It’s just a shame that there are only 39 titles to play.
The Premium and Extra tiers offer the same library of PS5 and PS4 games, but the ability to download PS2 games and stream PS3 games via the cloud is now locked behind Sony’s Premium tier. PlayStation Plus Premium also adds a handful of classic PS1 games to the mix and Game Trials, which are essentially time-limited demos.
Check out the full PlayStation Plus Premium games list if you want to see everything that’s included.
PS Plus Extra is the way to go 💪
Unless you’re a '90s child with a hankering to revisit some retro games, paying $20 extra a year is a hard sell right now.
The classic games – a term Sony uses extremely generously – inflates PS Plus Premium’s overall game tally to almost 800 games. But streaming PS3 games is still a rather miserable experience, and the majority of PS2 games are the same as those previously found on PS Now.
With that in mind, I’d stick with PS Plus Essential if you already subscribe. You get online access, cloud saves, discounts, and a selection of PS Plus free games to download, and at $9.99 a month, it’s significantly cheaper than Premium.
PS5 vs Xbox Series X: which one is right for you? 🤔
If you’re new to PlayStation 5, give Extra a go. The Extra tier gives you access to the same 300 PS4 and PS5 games in the Premium tier but costs $14.99 monthly. It’s worth subscribing to try out games like Returnal, Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut, and Death Stranding, but unless you’re eager to play older PS4 games, your mileage may vary.
With Premium, you’re essentially paying $17.99 monthly for nine PS1 games, two PSP games, and access to Game Trials. Yes, the classic game library will likely improve over time, but Premium is still too expensive even then, especially when you compare it to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.
So how does it compare? 🆚
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate costs $14.99 a month and gives subscribers access to hundreds of games on Xbox Series X|S and PC. Members also get EA Play, Xbox Cloud Gaming, Xbox Live Gold, and Perks – free member benefits that include freebies like access to three months of Discord Nitro.
Regarding Xbox Series X|S games, there are 127 optimized titles on Xbox Game Pass, which dwarfs the 39 PS5 games available on PS Plus Premium. The classic games selection is admittedly smaller, but you still get six original Xbox games and 61 Xbox 360 games, which can be downloaded as opposed to streamed. Several of these games also benefit from being Xbox One X enhanced and FPS Boost, which bumps the resolution to 4K and either double or quadruples the frame rate.
Want to know what’s coming out next? Check out our PS5 games 2022 list ⬅️
What’s more – an aspect that I see countless people overlook – every game included in the Xbox Game Pass library is available for purchase for a 20% discount, which means if you want to own a digital copy, you can get it for less. Downloadable content such as add-ons and expansions are also 10% off. There’s no such discount on any games or DLC included in PS Plus Premium or PS Plus Extra.
However, the biggest selling point of Xbox Game Pass is that all of Microsoft’s first-party games drop straight onto Xbox Game Pass on day one. You’ll still have to pay $70 if you want to own God of War: Ragnarok on PS5 if it releases this year, even if you subscribe to PS Plus Premium. Meanwhile, Starfield, Redfall, and countless other titles won’t cost you a penny when they come directly to Game Pass.
Don’t miss a release with our Xbox Series X games 2022 list 💚
Don’t dismiss Xbox Cloud Gaming so readily, either. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members can stream games from any Xbox console, Edge browser, or mobile, offering genuine flexibility to those who like to play their games on multiple devices. It’s an excellent quality of life perk.
What needs to improve? 👍
Some may argue that Sony isn’t bothered about competing with Xbox Game Pass, but that’s the goal. Microsoft’s service continues to grow and is attracting more day one releases of notable third-party and indie titles.
That’s an area that will make or break Sony’s service for me, as one of the best parts of Xbox Game Pass is playing new titles that I’d otherwise overlook. Stray is the first day one PS5 game release Sony has secured, so hopefully, this trend continues.
🆚 PS5 disc vs digital: which PlayStation 5 is right for you?
Another area that needs work compared to Microsoft’s service is the PlayStation Store. Finding something to play in PS Plus’s catalog of games is a nightmare. It’s almost impossible to determine which platform a game is for, as PS1 classics are listed as PS4/PS5, and there are plenty of duplicates of the same games. It’s just a mess and doesn’t aid discovery.
The similarities between PS Plus Premium and Xbox Game Pass are obvious, then, but Microsoft has had many years to finesse its service, and it shows. Both adopt a Netflix-style, all-you-can-consume model, giving users hundreds of games to play on demand. However, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is the clear winner in terms of sheer value. Sony needs to do more to make PS Plus Premium a viable competitor.
The Shortcut is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Updated: August 17, 2022