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Value Wars: PlayStation Plus Free Games vs Xbox Live Games with Gold

I take a look at the value of both PSN and Xbox Live's Games for Gold deals and compare the two. The conclusion isn't as cut and dry as it may seem.

There was a time when Microsoft's Xbox Live and Sony's PlayStation Network services could almost be thought of as two very different entities. Xbox Live was focused on providing a pure and reliable multilayer experience, whereas PSN offered a free online multiplayer, with PlayStation Plus being an optional subscription that got you access to extra content, demos, betas, and exclusive discounts on digital games purchased on the platform.

Since the PlayStation 4's launch, customers have had to pay for PS Plus to gain access to multiplayer on the platform, hence bringing it more in line with Xbox Live. So it wasn't long before Microsoft followed suit by offering their own Games With Gold incentive, which is as part of the Xbox Live subscription. 

So, let's take a quick look at the services side by side. 

Pricing The Services

Xbox Live

  • $59.99 for 12 months
  • $24.99 for three months
  • $9.99 for one month

PlayStation Network

  • $59.99 for 12 months
  • $24.99 for three months
  • $9.99 for one month
The Games On Offer 

PlayStation Plus offers six free games a month over three platforms: the PS4, PS3, and PS Vita. Xbox Live offers four games a month over two platforms: the Xbox 360 and Xbox One. The value of the free games on PSN depends a great deal on how many of the PlayStation systems you own. Luckily, many of the indie releases for PlayStation Plus sometimes have the option of crossplay across the Vita, PS3, and PS4. The Xbox 360 titles on offer are added to the growing backwards compatibility list on the Xbox One, and work across both platforms.

Here is a rundown and comparison of the games released for free on both service over the last quarter: 

February 2017
PS Plus Games Retail Price Games with Gold Retail Price
LittleBigPlanet 3  $19.99 Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime $14.99
Not a Hero $12.99 Monkey Island 2 Special Edition  $9.99
Starwhal $11.99 Project Cars Digital Edition  $29.99
Anna: Extended Edition $9.99 Star Wars: The Force Unleashed $19.99
Ninja Senki DX $4.99    
TorqueL $9.99    
Total Value $69.94 Total Value $74.96
January 2017
PS Plus Games Retail Price Games with Gold Retail Price
Day of the Tentacle Remastered $14.99 World of Van Helsing: Deathtrap $19.99
This War of Mine: The Little Ones $29.99 The Cave $14.99
Blazerush $9.99 Killer Instinct Season 2 Ultra Edition $34.99
The Swindle $14.99 Rayman Origins $19.99
Azkend 2 $7.99    
Titan Souls $14.99    
Total Value $92.94 Total Value $94.96
December 2017
PS Plus Games Retail Price Games with Gold Retail Price
Stories: The Path of Destinies $14.99 Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition $29.99
Invisible Inc. $19.99 Outland $9.99
Hyper Void $9.99 Outlast $19.99
Tiny Troopers Join Ops $7.99 Burnout Paradise $14.99
Color Guardians $14.99    
VVVVVV $7.99    
Total Retail Value $75.94 Total Retail Value $74.96

Looking at the last three months on both consoles, it's easy to see that there isn't much of a difference in monetary value, although one could argue that the two extra games on PSN are of lesser value than the total of four Xbox One titles. A counterpoint to that could be you're getting more for your money -- it really depends on an individual's taste and perspective.

For some gamers, especially casual audiences, there may be too heavy a dependence on indie titles on the PS4. While I think it's great that Sony is giving a platform to indie developers to showcase their games to a larger audience, it could be more appealing for gamers if there were more mainstream AAA titles thrown into the mix, too.  

A Look at Everything You Get With Each Subscription

 

The above chart will give you an example of what kind of service you'll get for your money on one or all of the Sony's consoles on through the PS plus service. How much value you get from the service will depend greatly on what machines you have access to, and If you own all three Sony systems, then you will get great value for your money, with some games having cross platform support.

Games For Gold covers two consoles instead of three, but there are deals and extra features that are added all the time. While Games For Gold has its decent share of indie titles every month, they don't dominate their free games list. What gamers will get is access to many of the Xbox 360's back catalogue which gets updated at a frequent rate and there's always at least one 360 title added to the Games for Gold list every month.

Both PlayStation Plus and Games For Gold offer up identical subscription fees and the value of the games is around the same, give or take a few dollars. So subjectively, the real choice comes down to what kinds of games you enjoy. If you love getting frequent access to indie games with the occasional AAA title across Sony's three lead platforms, then PSN is the way to go.

Xbox Live has the benefit of more recognizable releases on Games For Gold and it still gets quality indie titles, along with a growing back catalog. The only downside is featured games are often older releases.

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The primary focus of both Xbox Live and PSN is to get their user bases playing games online. Both business models offer great deals for customers and something to look forward to every month. So either way, the gamer wins in the end. So the real value is in selecting the types of games you want to play, on the systems on which you want to play them. 

Published Feb. 20th 2017

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