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Xbox Live Gold versus PS Plus: which is the best value?

Tuesday, 8 July 2014 08:10 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Last generation, Xbox Live and PlayStation Plus were really different offerings, but with the advent of the Xbox One and PS4 the two services have become less differentiated. Which now offers better value for money? We run down the facts to help you make up your own mind.

ps4_vs_xbox_one

If you’re a multiplayer console gamer, an Xbox Live Gold or PlayStation Plus subscription is pretty much essential, and even those who tend to stick to single-player can get a fair bit of value from either prospect. Let’s run down the two services and see what each brings to the table.

Xbox Live versus PS Plus: prices

Prices vary by region, so it’s worthwhile checking your local subscription costs. These prices were accurate at time of writing, and were sourced on local Amazon portals, rounded up to the nearest whole dollar with temporary discounts removed.

PS Plus is available in three month or one year subscription blocks; it’s cheapest to purchase a full year, which will run you $50/£40/€50.

Xbox Live Gold is also available in three or 12 month blocks, and again the full year is better value at $60/£37/€49.

Both services are regularly available at a discount via online promotions or retailer sales, so you can often do better than this by keeping your eyes peeled for deals. Redeemed subscription cards stack, so you can build up a buffer at your discretion.

What you get without a subscription

Both Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network offer a limited free service which provides various online functions at no cost. Here’s what you’ll get with each:

    Xbox Live:

  • SmartGlass
  • entertainment apps (app subscription may be required)
  • Store access including games, demos and DLC
  • voice chat
  • messaging
  • Internet Explorer
  • avatars
  • Xbox Video
  • MSN
  • Halo Waypoint
  • Sports Picks
  • Avatar Kinect
  • Kinect Fun Labs
  • Game Room
  • Bing
  • Upload Studio
  • Skype
  • Twitch
    PSN

  • PlayStation App services
  • entertainment apps (app subscription may be required)
  • PlayStation Store access including games, demos and DLC
  • game pre-loading
  • Party (cross-game voice chat)
  • messaging
  • web browsing
  • Share (including Twitch, Ustream, YouTube, Facebook)
  • Vita Remote Play
  • live dynamic menu feed

As you can see, Xbox Live definitely has a longer list of features available, but your mileage may vary for social, web and entertainment features, so look over both lists carefully and consider what you’re looking for in your console.

ps_plus_July_14

What you get with a subscription

The big one here is, of course, online multiplayer – last generation, the PS3 didn’t charge a fee for online gaming, which put Sony slightly ahead of the game. The situation is much more even now.

    Xbox Live Gold

  • online multiplayer
  • Games with Gold
  • discounts
  • exclusive beta access offers
  • exclusive demos
  • Xbox Live Cloud
  • Game DVR
  • party chat
  • video kinect
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Last.FM
    PS Plus

  • online multiplayer
  • Instant Game Collection
  • discounts
  • exclusive beta access offers
  • exclusive demos
  • cloud save storage
  • free game trials
  • automatic updates

In general, both services are offering pretty much the same thing, although the PSN doesn’t have video chat, and Xbox Live locks up some weird features behind a paywall. Twitter? Why? Putting Game DVR behind the paywall is clever though, as PS4 currently doesn’t offer a rival service, although Twitch archiving may soon fill that gap.

Games With Gold versus Instant Collection

For many gamers, this is where the real battle is fought: which service gives you the best bang for your buck in terms of free games and content?

In terms of sheer dollar value, Sony is definitely ahead. The Instant Game Collection regularly produces more numerous and more recent games than Games with Gold, so you’re more likely to save with PS Plus rather than Xbox Live Gold.

That said, Games with Gold tends to focus on big ticket items – they may be a few years old, but they’re usually highly popular, well-recognised names. The Instant Game Collection is heavy on indies, which offer their own attractions but may not appeal to the core gamer. Your mileage will vary.

These are just general trends, of course; content varies month to month. Both services are still finding their feet – especially Games With Gold – and balancing appeal with value. For comparison’s sake, here’s what each offers this month. It’s not the strongest line up for either service:

games_with_gold_july

    Xbox Live Games with Gold – July 2014

  • Max: The Curse of Brotherhood
  • Gotham City Impostors
  • Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition
  • Halo: Spartan Assault
    PS Plus Instant Game Collection – July 2014

  • Doki Doki Universe
  • Strider
  • TowerFall Ascension
  • Dead Space 3 (PS3)
  • Vessel (PS3)
  • Doki Doki Universe (Vita)
  • LEGO Batman 2: DC Superheroes (Vita)

Other benefits

There are a few other miscellaneous points not covered by the sections above.

It seems that some subscription games will not require PS Plus, but will require Xbox Live Gold. The Elder Scrolls Online is the first example. We don’t know whether this trend will continue though – we expect it to even out as PS Plus becomes as ubiquitous as Xbox Live Gold among the install base.

PS Plus subscriptions extend to all users on the same PS4 console, as does Xbox Gold on Xbox One. Both the PS4 and Xbox One make installed games available to all users of the same console. PS Plus lets all users have access to PS4 online services under one subscription, as does an Xbox Live Gold subscription for Xbox One. But for Xbox 360, a Gold sub is required for each user.

PS Plus also extends to PS3 and Vita, providing many of the same benefits on all three consoles as well as regular free content drops for each, all on the one subscription. Microsoft doesn’t have a portable console, so Xbox Live Gold covers just Xbox 360 and Xbox One.

However, it must be said that in general Xbox Live downloads are faster than the PSN. This is improving, and Sony has done some really excellent work in the last few years making the PSN faster and more reliable, so we don’t expect it to even be an issue.

Conclusion

If PS Plus versus Xbox Live Gold is your deciding factor in choosing a next-gen console, you’re in for some hard thinking; both services are great, and largely a requirement to get the most out of your gaming experience. PS Plus is a little bit cheaper, which is nice, and its Instant Game Collection is more compelling than Games with Gold. On the other hand, Xbox Live has a broader range of bells and whistles, and offers more entertainment options than the PSN – plus, it’s likely that you already have a lot of friends there. It’s a cop out, but if you asked us for advice we’d probably say get both. Good luck, gamer.

Update: article has been corrected – Xbox Live Gold allows access to all online services for all accounts on one home console.

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38 Comments

  1. Dog4life

    What i miss on PSN are real sales and big discounts.

    They should learn from Steam summersales <3

    PS + insane you get all those free games on all Sony platforms… but well i dont own a Vita and my ps3 is pretty much collecting dust

    #1 9 months ago
  2. The_Red

    Awesome comparison. I had already made up my mind about consoles themselves but as someone who doesn’t used online services, I learned some neat stuff.

    XBL Gold seems decent enough but since I don’t care about none of the social features, they are wasted for me. Same goes for Vita games from PS Plus deals but overall, it’s good to see both systems competing and improving.

    Still, imagine if they could indeed learn from Steam Sales as Dog4life said. Fuck the low price haters who think Steam sales are bad. Steam Sales are great and more companies should start following instead of trying to “change” things like EA thinks its doing.

    #2 9 months ago
  3. polygem

    at this Point, i would prefer frequent sales a la steam.

    the problem i have with these services is that it doesn´t really benefit early adopters.

    i buy a lot of games day one and in fact, since PS+ i kind of started to hold back on buying the playstation games early.

    if there wasn´t PS+ i would have bought knack by now, i would have bought infamous instead of renting it, i would have re-bought killzone because it is cheap now.

    i don´t, because i think that there´s a good chance that these games will show up on plus.

    Overall i am having high hopes for “PS now”.

    i hope that it will become an all access subscritption where i can choose wich games i want to play and not the service choosing that for me.

    i am not having a problem with this being much more a rental service than actually owning the games.

    it is convenient. i´d pay a good amount of cash monthly for a service like that. it would allow me to play the games i want to play at my very own pacing without having to fear to miss out on something or hoping for a certain title to hit the Service at some point.

    i would totally embrace that.

    that being said, PS+ is a good value, especially if you own multiple systems – i am not complaining – all i am saying is that i would personally prefer a different kind of subscription based service.

    i think it will come…

    #3 9 months ago
  4. ddtd

    @Brenna

    “An Xbox Live Gold subscription is required for each Gamertag on an Xbox console.”

    That’s only true for the Xbox 360.

    On the Xbox One, as long as one person on the home console has Gold, then anyone that logs into that console can use Gold features.

    http://support.xbox.com/en-US/xbox-one/xbox-live/xbox-live-gold-sharing-features

    #4 9 months ago
  5. mistermogul

    PS+ for me but that’s only because I no longer have a MS console!

    #5 9 months ago
  6. Erthazus

    Steam is better then both combined.

    It’s Free. You can sell items from games in to the Steam shop. Steam workshop. Decent library of games. It’s faster. No stupid belts or whistles (skype and other shit is available on MAC and PC), Steam modding, Better connection and built in clan chat, M&K+controller support, no ADS.

    XBL and PSN are both crap. I have Ps4 and won’t use PSN ever except for buying something just because I have no alternative. They are both bad aka a middle man between your TV and PC that wants you to use their service that is full of security holes, lags and shitty belts and whistles that does not do anything for gaming.

    #6 9 months ago
  7. KAP

    PS+ for me thanx.

    Got Guacamelee for free with plus on PS3 then on PS4 got my very owb copy for £2.00 due to plus.
    Not to mention the last 2 years of plus’s free games that I still get to play on my PS3. Awesomesauce!

    #7 9 months ago
  8. CycloneFox

    Im really happy with ps plus. It. You dont own a ita, buy the vita games anyway. Its a cheap and good device. And as soon as you have a vita, ps tv or any Otter future device, that plays vita games, you will already own a lot of games for it.

    #8 9 months ago
  9. Kreion

    I’m an Xbox(and PC) user mainly, but I’d still say PS+ has better deals a lot of the time. As a service I can’t rate it against XBL, but certainly it’s had a lot of good free games etc. for the people who put money into it. MS only recently started to catch up on that front, though I’m glad they are doing so. I will say that it’s Sony that have had to deal with more technical issues over the two systems lifespans…I’m thinking of the security leaks especially here. But I also can’t remember if XBL ran into similar problems at any point.

    @Erthazus Steam has it’s own share of problems. I’d also add that it’s taken a long time for it to get at the level that it is now – I mean the offline mode was busted for years. I would say that I’ve never noticed any connection difference between Steam and XBL. Both cut out sometimes and both slow down sometimes, it’s the nature of servers.

    #9 9 months ago
  10. Untold stories

    @Erthazus most of those things are available on both consoles except for the idea of steam works. There is modding but nothing quite as robust as that. As far as the m+kb it depends on the publisher whether they want to add it or not but its there. Ads you see everywhere even in PC. The connection I don’t get where you’re going with that. I don’t have to do shit on console when it comes to playing games online but some Some PC games I have to go set a private port so that they run

    #10 9 months ago
  11. Untold stories

    All in all I’m happy with both services. The only thing I noticed which I think MS might change is how they pick games for Games with gold. Right now it seems like they’re to picky. But Ps+ is not. It does give them an edge when it comes to that extra value but like it said in the article sometimes they’re games that don’t appeal to some gamers

    #11 9 months ago
  12. CPC_RedDawn

    STEAM blows both out of the water!!

    - its FREE
    - It has over 2000 games
    - It has massive discounts, large sale periods
    - tons of user rewards in the form of trading cards which can be sold for real world money!
    - tons of game achievements
    - unlimited friends list
    - excellent chat support, multichat window, and free voice chat
    - Skype is also free on PC and can be used in conjunction with Steam
    - K&M support, Controller support
    - Big Picture support, making using a controller a breeze!
    - In home streaming for FREE!
    - Workshop community for tons of in game mods that support over 20 games so far
    - Greenlight which enabled up and coming developers the chance to have their game sold!
    - Early Access (yes controversial) which allows people to buy now and enter a game while its being developed and help craft and make the game better!
    - Very helpful online community in the form of forums, groups, and clans!
    - Screenshot gallery for each game!
    - FREE 2 PLAY section with tons of free games!
    - also its AD FREE!!!

    I could probably list more points, but its pointless at this point. No matter how powerful your PC or Laptop is. STEAM will run on it and there WILL be games you can play, communities you can join, and things you can do.

    STEAM and PC wins hands down! It won at the very first hurdle… which is price… ITS FREE!!

    #12 9 months ago
  13. Legendaryboss

    Someone mention Steam and its benefits where irrelevant…

    #13 9 months ago
  14. Rockstar Vienna

    @CPC_RedDawn

    “STEAM and PC wins hands down!”

    Great that you totally missed the point of this article! But you are not the only one, don’t worry! ^^

    #14 9 months ago
  15. dazedonthemoon

    As an owner of a PS4, PS3 and a Vita it’s a no brainer, I get 6 free games a month. It’s nuts. I have so many games and no time to play them all. I own a 360 as well and have recently let my Live expire. It’s not worth it to keep it just to play Halo. I’m considering getting a XBO but I dunno if Halo alone can do it for me. The games for gold is shit compared to the quality and newer games you get with Plus.

    #15 9 months ago
  16. dazedonthemoon

    Oh and PSN has great sales as well. Especially for Vita games. They just don’t tend to give you a heads up. If ya see a game you want on sale, better snag it cause who knows when it’ll be on sale again and they don’t tend to give you much notice. Lots of flash sales.

    #16 9 months ago
  17. MuscledRMH

    Xbox Live works on ALL Gamertags on Xbox One just like the PS4! Change the post please, YOU ONLY NEED ONE SUBSCRIPTION ON XBOX ONE TO GET GOLD ON ALL ACCOUNTS ON THE SAME CONSOLE SO FIX THIS POST PLEASE THANK YOU

    #17 9 months ago
  18. zoopdeloop

    yeah change the post please,some representatives are getting very upset here…along with others.FIX IT NOW and add Steam while you’re at it :P

    #18 9 months ago
  19. ManuOtaku

    I do like both in equal meassure, pretty great overall, though iam not a fan if the free psn games that are tied to the subscription account, i would have prefer if they change the tem free, or if they drop the required subscription for those games.

    As For Steam, i understand the appeal, the great things, etc., but for me psn, live and nintendo store are better, i buy a game, iam not leasing them. But thats my preference, happy for the people that loves steam, thats the wonderfull thing of multiple choices, steam is not for me, psn, live and ninteno store, yes they are for me.

    #19 9 months ago
  20. OrbitMonkey

    You ever get the idea that if you asked certain pc users what was the better option between apples & oranges, they’d just sit in a corner shouting “bananas!” :)

    #20 9 months ago
  21. ManuOtaku

    @OrbitMonkey Especally when you cook those bananas in steam. ;-)

    #21 9 months ago
  22. ManuOtaku

    @OrbitMonkey Especially when you cook those bananas in steam. ;-)

    #22 9 months ago
  23. pukem0n

    PS+ has the better free games by a mile.
    still, that’s propably the reason why MS is swimming in money and Sony is not, but as a customer you shouldn’t care if your company is ging broke or not or how many consoles were sold versus the other one

    #23 9 months ago
  24. eggbok

    I’m sorry but Xbox One game downloads are not faster than PS4.

    #24 9 months ago
  25. CyberMarco

    @OrbitMonkey DUDE bananas are the best, end of the story! xD

    #25 9 months ago
  26. Matt Martin

    Sorry about the error. The Xbox Live Gold details have been updated. It’s been a long day.

    #26 9 months ago
  27. Dragon

    Hey guys, I am new here. Can anyone tell me where to buy the steam subscription for $50 or $60 so that I can get 2-6 games per month? It seems that its better than gold and ps plus subscription.
    Sorry for being a n00b. I checked steam site and didn’t found out about the subscription.
    Thanks.

    #27 9 months ago
  28. fearmonkey

    As a long time Xbox Live subscriber (Still am actually), I think PSN is the better Value.

    If you have a PS3 or PS4 it’s great, if you have a the Vita, it’s even better.

    Doki Doki is cross buy and is for Vita this month, by getting it on Vita, I got it on PS4 as well. I also got Strider and Towerfall. So I actually got three games for PS4 for free this month! MS has never come close to that.

    I think the sales on PSN are ok though, MS has been a bit better lately, but thats a recent thing, for a long time, I never bought anything from MS, even on their supposedly big sales.

    #28 9 months ago
  29. fearmonkey

    @Dragon – Noob….lol

    Steam has library sharing, and sales that can’t be beat though….

    #29 9 months ago
  30. dazedonthemoon

    Hmmm, imagine that… An article about Gold and Plus, things that have nothing to do with PC, and PC gamers flooding the comments about steam… Tell me how many free games a month do you get on Steam again? Since you guys brought it up.

    #30 9 months ago
  31. polygem

    how is throwing steam into a discussion about digitally distributed games “irrelevant” or off topic?

    even if steam is not in the headline, it doesn´t mean that it is not allowed to throw it in here, to discuss it´s value compared to plus and gold.

    wow.

    fuck it guys, seriously. i am really getting tired of some guys killing every discussion by dictating what fits into the context and what doesn´t.

    dragon and legendaryboss. you are some clown mods. i will continue to tell you that as long as i need to.

    just discuss, open minded. if someone wants to name steam in this context – - – why making jokes about it.

    it´s ignorant. fuck that shit attitude.

    #31 9 months ago
  32. Legendaryboss

    @polygem Do you see Steam in the title? In the tags? In the article? Its irrelevant, not forbidden. The supposed dictating is in your mind. Don’t get so upset, it’s unbecoming of you. “Just discuss , open minded… Why make jokes?” = :lol: ignorance is bliss. Quote it, if your so sure, you won’t so file it under misunderstanding 101.

    #32 9 months ago
  33. polygem

    @Legendaryboss
    saying it is irrelevant is an attempt to kill the discussion about it nothing else. no misunderstandings here.
    file it under: learn social interaction.

    #33 9 months ago
  34. polygem

    @polygem

    ….but you should really finally start to learn boss…sit down and learn.

    #34 9 months ago
  35. Legendaryboss

    @polygem So that’s a no? But as proved, no quotes showing what little faith you have to back up words. No matter, let’s draw the line here.

    #35 9 months ago
  36. Dragon

    “dragon and legendaryboss. you are some clown mods. i will continue to tell you that as long as i need to .”

    http://www.vg247.com/forum/topic/cozy-corner/

    “i think we need a fresh start.
    -
    new page. reset.”

    Man…

    #36 9 months ago
  37. polygem

    like i said, always said, to shake hands you need two hands.

    that´s just how that works guys.

    you are afraid of something. at this point i think that it must be insecurity. it is not needed. relax. give things a chance. let your feminine side out :D
    this is not a competition. i don´t care about your dick size.

    #37 9 months ago
  38. mr_krunchi

    I like both services. I’ve been a consistent Xbox Live Gold member since the original Xbox, so I will always find the social features better than Playstation Plus. I definitely love the HD upgrade in chat as well. However, since not too many of my friends have purchased an Xbox One (or PS4 for that matter), obviously it’s tougher to socialize. So for me now, I’d say PS+ is great having all the games for 3 systems. But, as someone noted in the comments, it’s almost overwhelming how many games there are. I don’t really have time to check into them all lol.

    #38 9 months ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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