Every year war is waged between Sony and Microsoft fanboys up and down social media and the across the globe – they use absolutely everything they can in order to get the upper hand on their rivals (and their console of choice). In recent years however, this war has been getting decidedly one-sided when it comes to console exclusive games; which has meant that Xbox fanboys have had to resort to looking upon the battlefield of the subscription service – Games with Gold vs PS Plus has become a minefield of the fanboy and it is a dangerous place to be!
Allow me to put my head above the parapet and let’s see which service offered the best value to the gamer in 2018! Here are the rules for this fight of kings;
- I’m only taking into consideration the games for the current generation of home consoles – that means that I am not counting Backwards Compatibility titles nor am I counting last gen or handheld titles (regardless of whether they had crossplay or not).
- The highlighted games are duplicates across the services and will be removed from the reckoning.
- Bonus titles have been included for both services.
No man’s land has nothing on this stuff…
The Weigh-in – What games were offered on current gen in 2017?
Round 1 – Volume of Games
At first glance it is easy to see that by sheer volume of games, PlayStation Plus has come out on top, Sony started offering bonus games in the last quarter and this means that instead of the 24 games (for PS4) we actually got 26! In September Sony offered the very good (but extremely short-lived) ‘That’s You’ whilst in October and December they offered the PSVR titles ‘Rigs: Mechanised Combat League’ and ‘Until Dawn: Rush of Blood’ respectively. This was an extremely generous move from Sony that had a few benefits, it launched ‘PlayLink’ successfully, it appeased VR owners with great titles and it boosted the falling number of players in ‘RIGs’; once again there is a vibrant community of players in a game that was slowly dying.
Microsoft still offered its players 24 titles, which is not to be sniffed at, but if we do take in sheer volume of games; those three bonus games really do tilt the scales in favour of Sony and their dominant PS4.
Winner: PlayStation Plus
Round 2 – Quality of Games
This is where things get tricky; both services had inconsistent years with some stellar months and some that were plain disappointing and/or a bit crap!
What I have done is I’ve marked, what I would consider good, games in each subscription programme (excluding the doubles) and tallied up the results – and they are exactly as you would expect, almost even! Games with Gold finishes the tally with 15 and PlayStation Plus with 16; those bonus games put this round firmly in Sony’s favour as all three are good or better in my opinion. I just want to add here that I haven’t played all the games on these lists so rather than use critical opinion this is based purely off my own experience therefore if I haven’t played a game, it couldn’t be counted as “good”.
If any-thing this category shows the depth of the libraries of these consoles; there really are a lot of good games being released consistently throughout the year. This also lays to rest the assumption that gaming used to be better; in my opinion this is complete nonsense – sure gaming has its issues like every other major entertainment industry but the actual product has never been of a higher quality. We are spoiled for choice and we are nearly guaranteed a playable game.
Winner: PlayStation Plus
Round 3 – AAA Titles offered
Every month on social media there is always discussions around the number of AAA titles offered on both of these services – more often than not it is people complaining about “indie crap” padding the services and bemoaning a lack of AAA or “important” games.
Whilst I couldn’t disagree more that AAA experiences add more inherent value to these services (especially since most that appear are a year, or more, old) this seems to be a very unpopular opinion and every discussion over PSPlus or GWG always winds up back at this topic.
Since it’s important to seemingly everyone; which service offered up more AAA experiences in 2017?
Neither service offered a massive amount of them with only around ¼ of all games being AAA; however, PSPlus did offer more but it was extremely close. 7 to 6 in fact!
Winner: PS Plus
Round 4 – Range of Genres
Here’s where things get interesting; and here is where some arguments could develop; in an effort to keep things as fair as possible I have totally disregarded sub-genres. The means that genres will be defined by the type of game it actually is; e.g. there will not be ARPG, SRPG etc they are all considered RPG.
To me this is the category is where the true value of these services can be found; just last year I wrote a piece about how playing games you wouldn’t normally play is refreshing and how it can re-energise you as a player. These subscription services allow you to play all sorts of games for free, so there is no excuse for sticking to the same two or three genres anymore.
Unsurprisingly both services cover a massive range of genres (11 apiece in fact), ranging from Puzzle games to AAA Action-Adventures and everything in-between. It really is an embarrassment of riches with regards to variety and it highlights just how strong a library of games both consoles have (when looked at objectively).
Round 5 – Overall thoughts
In my opinion I feel that the “free” games really do add value to these services, I have downloaded and played the majority of the games that have released this year on PS Plus (even if it only is for an hour or two). As a result, I have played games I would not have touched with a barge pole; sure, many were not to my taste but there were many that were. I have had some great gaming experiences on top of my multiplayer action that PS Plus grants me access to. I love the concept of Plus and GWG and I hope for them to continue in the future.
Who is the winner though? With a score of 3-1 it looks like PlayStation Plus really trounced Games with Gold but that is really not the case! Looking at the scores and the rationale behind my scoring shows that both services are pretty much on a par with one another, they both offer some great games that span most genres, age-groups and tastes catering to the most diehard gamer and even the casual audience too! It must be noted though that both have massive improvements to make if they are going to continue with their success!
The one I would love to see is both companies dropping the requirement of the subscription to play online multiplayer – whilst I get good value from my subscription with the “free” games I know many people who literally pay the same price as I do to play only multiplayer; they have no interest in the free games offered because they play only a handful of games a year. Whilst this may sound silly, it is a valid point of view that I’m sure many thousands share!
If they do not want to drop the subscription for this completely then I would welcome a tiered approach where you can opt-in to the services you want and pay accordingly.
I would also love to know what the criteria is for the games that get chosen; obviously I know there is a marketing agreement in place for these games; but how do they get chosen? Is it a case of Sony/MS get approached by the publisher or is it the other way around?
Finally I feel that more notice of the titles would be great, it would allow people to decide whether the next month is worth their money – I am not naïve enough to believe that these games are only vetted the month before they appear on these services so why the secrecy?
What was the better service in your opinion?
Tell me in the comments/facebook/twitter!
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