Can PlayStation Plus compete with Xbox Game Pass?

In June 2017, Xbox Game Pass was released, revolutionizing the way we play our games with its subscription-based model – the “Netflix of Gaming” was an apt description. With the creation of Game Pass, it was only a matter of time before Sony entered the arena, and now it is with its completely revamped version of PlayStation Plus. Now that Sony and Microsoft are giving us their console libraries for a reasonable monthly fee, it’s time to compare and contrast them.

While both offer access to legacy games, there’s one major hurdle Sony still has to overcome outside of its multiple price tiers (For God’s sake guys, let’s just have one level and make life easier for everyone!). While Sony has a lengthy backlog of consoles and games to make available through its service, Day One’s first-party games are still the big trump card Microsoft has over Sony. Don’t get me wrong: I love playing older games and rekindling memories of my childhood, but if you’re Sony and $3 more than Microsoft at $18 for “full access” and the “full experience” require you to have Day One releases are there too. This can still happen, but the lack of announcements about it makes me skeptical.


In late 2021 Microsoft put Halo Infinite on Game Pass at launch and that’s where they threw all their chips in. Now is not the time for Sony to rest on its back catalog and hope that these alone can bring in new subscribers. PlayStation Plus currently feels lacking compared to Game Pass. We may not have a release date for God of War: Ragnarok just yet, but still, Sony should have confirmed that it would be included in the company’s subscription service at launch – it would have been a great statement of intent. It’s one of the most anticipated titles for the PS5, but not making it available on your subscription service is a serious downside.

If Sony’s primary focus is building a serious subscriber base and attracting people with more than just nostalgia, there should be at least one or two exclusive titles a year; Throwing Horizon: Forbidden West there, for example, would have been a great start (we only get one sample instead).

I’d rather pay $18 a month and play God of War: Ragnarok as part of a subscription than pay $70 for the game alone. With inflation and costs this high, you have to be aware of where and how people will be spending the bulk of their money — not making them pay $70 for something goes a long way, both financially and by hedging a longtime customer.

Ultimately, Sony’s decision not to include day-one games in its service boils down to one thing: money. It’s not exactly greed, because the bottom line is that Sony doesn’t have the cash flow that Microsoft does. I think PlayStation Plus can compete with Game Pass, but Microsoft’s net worth is $456 billion at the time of this writing, Sony’s is only $135 billion, and total assets are $260 billion. Microsoft can afford to lose money on sales and Game Pass because they’re a software company (Hello, Windows) and will always make more money than Scrooge McDuck’s vault can hold.

Microsoft can afford to release Starfield as a day-one release on Game Pass. You can spend billions acquiring studios and take losses on physical and digital game sales. Sony can’t do that, but at least in the short term it feels like cut corners need to be made. So what will it be? God of War: Ragnarok, Marvel’s Spiderman 2, Wolverine, all three? The man who can make that decision is PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan.

Right now, Sony is like a victim in one of the Saw movies: They want to step in and expand their reach in the streaming and subscription markets, but in order to do that they’re giving up something of value. This is not a live-or-die scenario, this is a do-you-want-to-fight-for-first-or-second-place scenario. That’s the choice Jim Ryan and the folks at PlayStation and Sony have to make. Sure, Playstation Plus can only have older games and add current-gen titles about a year later, but that too devalues ​​the service’s potential, especially alongside its big green rival.

Can PlayStation Plus compete and compete with Game Pass? I doubt it unless Ryan and company add day-one releases for console exclusives. Can PlayStation Plus compete with Xbox Game Pass?

Lindsay Lowe

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