What are the differences between PlayStation Plus, Xbox Game Pass, and Nintendo Switch Online? Is PS Plus better than Game Pass and NSO? If you happen to be weighing up the subscription services offered by Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo, potentially to help you decide which console to purchase, you might be wondering which is the better deal. As part of our PS5 Guide, we're going to explain what the differences are between PS Plus, Xbox Game Pass, and Nintendo Switch Online and decide which one is better.
PS Plus vs Xbox Game Pass vs Nintendo Switch Online: What Are the Differences and Which One Is Better?
Each major console platform has its own subscription service, and there are big differences between all three of them. Sony's PlayStation Plus, Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass, and Nintendo Switch Online each have unique benefits as well as drawbacks. Before we go into much more detail on what each entails, let's get a top level, at-a-glance view of the full picture. Check out this table to see how the services compare at their respective highest subscription tiers:
|Cloud Storage||Online Multiplayer||Games Library||Day One Exclusive Game Releases||Monthly Bonus Games||Exclusive Deals||Bonus In-Game Items||Game Streaming via the Cloud|
|PlayStation Plus Premium||Yes||Yes||700+ games (PS1, PS2, PS3, PSP, PS4, PS5)||—||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Xbox Game Pass Ultimate||Not required||Yes||100+ games (Original Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack||Yes||Yes||100+ games (NES, SNES, N64, SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive)||—||—||Yes||Yes||—|
PS Plus: What Is It?
PlayStation Plus is a subscription service available on PlayStation platforms. Right now, PS Plus offers several benefits, most notably a selection of PS5 and PS4 games for you to download and play at no additional cost each month. As well as this rotation of games, PS Plus gives you access to online multiplayer, letting you play online with your friends, and cloud save storage, allowing you to upload your save data as a backup. Additionally, PS Plus members gain access to bonus discounts and other exclusive offers.
As of June 2022, PS Plus is moving to a tiered structure, with three different subscription plans offering you more value for more expensive rates. Below, we will go through each tier in turn.
PS Plus Essential
PS Plus Essential is as described above, and is the lowest of the three tiers.
- Three PS5, PS4 games each month
- Online multiplayer
- Cloud save storage
- Exclusive discounts
PS Plus Extra
PS Plus Extra offers all the benefits of PS Plus Essential, plus the following:
- Access to a library of 400 PS5 and PS4 games, all of which are downloadable for you to play for the duration of your subscription
PS Plus Premium
PS Plus Premium is the highest tier of PS Plus, giving subscribers the most benefits. It also rolls PS Now into PS Plus, joining the two together. PS Plus Premium includes everything from PS Plus Essential and PS Plus Extra, as well as the following:
- Access to an additional 340 games, including PS3 games (streamed only) and PS1, PS2, and PSP games (streamed or downloaded)
- Access to streaming service for PS1, PS2, PS3, PSP, and PS4 games via PS4, PS5, or PC
- Time-limited game trials
PS Plus Pricing
How much does PS Plus cost? It depends on which tier you subscribe to. Below, we've put all the details in a table so you can compare.
|PS Plus Tier||1-Month Subscription||3-Month Subscription||12-Month Subscription|
|PS Plus Essential||$9.99
|PS Plus Extra||$14.99
|PS Plus Premium||$17.99
What is PlayStation Now? PS Now is another subscription service that currently allows users to download and stream select PS4 games to play. Those with an active subscription can also stream select PlayStation 3 games over the internet. Certain PlayStation 2 games are also playable on PS Now. For more information, refer to the following: Will PS Now Be on PS5? and Can You Download PS Now Games on PS5?
You can sign up to PlayStation Now in monthly increments of £8.99/$9.99 or opt for a yearly subscription at £49.99/$59.99 and this will give you access to every single PlayStation game on the service. PS4 games are added to the service on a monthly basis, with the vast majority of them staying there for the foreseeable future. Lately, Sony has started to include bigger titles in its line-up which do come with an expiration date. Those games are no longer playable through PS Now once they leave the service, but you can still buy them through the PlayStation Store.
To quickly sum up, PlayStation Now allows you to:
- Download and stream PS4 and PS2 games
- Stream PS3 games
- Play those games on your PS4 or PC
Note: PS Now is set to be merged with PS Plus starting June 2022. After this time, if you wish you receive the benefits of PS Now, you will need to subscribe to PS Plus Premium.
Xbox Game Pass: What Is It?
Xbox Game Pass is a subscription service available on Xbox platforms that allows users to download a wide range of Xbox Series, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and Original Xbox games to play. Every title on the service is downloaded to the console itself rather than streamed from a server. Games are added to Xbox Game Pass on a very regular basis, but a handful of titles are taken out of the 100+ line-up at the end of each month. The service's biggest selling point is the fact that brand new Xbox One and Xbox Series X titles from Xbox Game Studios are added to Xbox Game Pass on the very same day they launch. Essentially, this means that you no longer have to pay full price for first-party games on Xbox consoles.
There are two tiers of Xbox Game Pass for console users to consider.
Xbox Game Pass Console
Xbox Game Pass Console is the standard version of the service. If you subscribe to this tier, you get:
- Access to 100+ games to download to your console. Games are added and removed on a regular basis
- First-party Xbox games join Game Pass day-and-date with launch
- Discounts and deals
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is the more expensive tier that throws in additional incentives. This tier includes everything in Xbox Game Pass Console, plus the following:
- Ability to play the library of games on PC and mobile devices via the cloud
- Free perks such as in-game content and partner offers
- Xbox Live Gold included — enables online multiplayer, additional deals, and monthly games
- EA Play included — enables access to EA's library of games, early game trials, and exclusive offers
Xbox Game Pass Pricing
How much does Xbox Game Pass cost? Let's compare how each tier stacks up.
|Xbox Game Pass Tier||Rolling Subscription Cost|
|Xbox Game Pass Console||$9.99
|Xbox Game Pass Ultimate||$14.99
Nintendo Switch Online: What Is It?
Nintendo Switch Online is Nintendo's subscription service available on Switch. The service allows subscribers to play online multiplayer, and grants access to other benefits, such as a library of retro games. Subscribing to Nintendo Switch Online means you can play online and enjoy over 100 NES and SNES games, plus more if you opt for the Expansion Pack.
There are two tiers of Nintendo Switch Online to consider.
Nintendo Switch Online
Simply called Nintendo Switch Online, the lower tier subscription is the most basic, as described above. It offers:
- Access to online multiplayer
- Access to 100+ NES and SNES retro games accessible for the duration of your subscription
Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack
Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack is as it sounds: the same subscription service with some additional benefits. Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack offers everything in the above tier plus the following:
- Access to a selection of Nintendo 64 retro games
- Access to a selection of SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive retro games
- Access to game-specific DLC such as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe's Booster Course Pass
Nintendo Switch Online Pricing
How much does Nintendo Switch Online cost? Below, we'll compare the prices for each tier.
|Nintendo Switch Online Tier||1-Month Subscription||3-Month Subscription||12-Month Subscription||12-Month Family Membership (up to 8 accounts)|
|Nintendo Switch Online||$3.99
|Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack||N/A||N/A||$49.99
PS Plus vs Xbox Game Pass vs Nintendo Switch Online: What Are the Differences?
The most obvious difference between the three services is that they are all only available on different consoles. PS Plus is exclusive to PlayStation platforms, Xbox Game Pass is only on Xbox consoles (and PC), and Nintendo Switch Online (NSO) is exclusive to Switch. However, what really separates them are their varying benefits and game selections. Deciding which is best will depend on what you're looking for.
PS Plus and NSO include online play in all tiers, while Game Pass' lowest tier does not — you'll also need to subscribe to Xbox Live Gold on Microsoft's machines, unless you subscribe to the more expensive Game Pass Ultimate.
Nintendo's offering is overall more simplified — you're essentially getting online play and a selection of retro titles, and this is reflected in the price, which is generally much cheaper than Sony and Microsoft's subscriptions. In contrast, PS Plus and Game Pass are more expensive but give you more bang for your buck.
Following the merging of PS Now and PS Plus from June 2022, the renewed service will (at its best) give you access to approximately 740 games from PS1 to PS5, with most of them available to download (save for PS3 games) and all of them available to stream via the cloud. Game Pass is similar, but its game selection is smaller. To make up for that, the selection is generally more up to date with current releases, every game can be downloaded, and of course, it boasts first-party exclusives joining the service from day one.
Then there are the additional monthly games, and these selections vary in quality across both PS Plus and Games with Gold.
PS Plus vs Xbox Game Pass vs Nintendo Switch Online: Which Is Best?
Deciding which of the three services is better is largely going to depend on what you're looking to gain access to. Xbox Game Pass generally has a more up to date catalogue of titles with first-party titles available from day one and even third-party games entering the service at an impressively fast rate. Meanwhile, PlayStation Plus' newest additions tend to be a year old or more. You do have to remember though that with PS Plus Premium, you gain access to hundreds of PS1, PS2, PS3, PSP, and PS4 games for streaming and an overall catalogue that is rarely reduced in size. PlayStation Plus only removes a few bigger titles a year, while multiple games leave Xbox Game Pass on a monthly basis. Nintendo Switch Online, meanwhile, has a constant slate of NES and SNES games (N64 and SEGA Genesis too, if you pay up) that is steadily increasing over time.
There is no obvious winner here because the services appeal to different types of gamers. PS Plus can boast of a wider catalogue of games while Xbox Game Pass sports much more up to date releases, and NSO will appeal more directly to Nintendo fans. All three subscription services have their strengths and weaknesses — it really does depend on what you're looking to gain.
If you have been deciding which service to go with, what one have you chosen? PS Plus, Xbox Game Pass, or Nintendo Switch Online? Let us know in the comments below, and check out our PS5 guide for lots more.