PlayStation+ vs. Xbox Live Gold. A 2017 Tightwad Year in Review

Which Online Service Offered the Most Value?

2018 brings a new year for gaming, and for many of us, a new year for gaming resolutions. Maybe you will set out to beat more games than you buy. Or perhaps you’d like to be more present with family and friends by implementing a monthly game night. Regardless, we at Tightwad Gamer hope one of your resolutions is to PAY LESS, and PLAY MORE and this article aims to do just that! Today, we have a face-off: PS+ vs. Xbox Live Gold. Which service provides the most value?

One possibility to consider (or reconsider) when assessing your frugal gaming needs are online subscription-based services. These are typically required for online play if you have either a Sony or Microsoft console. But who has time to figure out whether these services are really worth it? (hint: we do).Today, specifically, we’d like to offer a detailed comparison on PlayStation Plus vs. Xbox Live Gold (PS+ vs. Live Gold). Plus and Gold are premium subscription services for Sony and Microsoft consoles. Xbox Live and PlayStation Network each provide access to messaging and apps, including video streaming like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. Ultimately, games on both consoles require Plus and Gold to take advantage of online play and communication services. Each service however does offer another unique perk: free games and special discounts offered each month. This article intends to examine both services and make an conclusion on which offered the most value in 2017.

Let’s cover pricing and terms. PS Plus and Xbox Live Gold both have the same pricing structure: $9.99 for one month, $24.99 for three months, or $59.99 for one full year. Free games span the following platforms: Xbox 360, Xbox One for Xbox Live Gold and PS3, PS4, PSVR, and PSVita for PS Plus. All games can be played with an active subscription, but cannot be accessed if a subscription expires. There is one exception: 360 games are retained permanently once “purchased” through the Xbox store.

Methods:

Before we jump into all the details that follow, here are the overall questions I focused on in this comparison:

  1. Which service delivers the most value in free games based on Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)?
  2. Which service provides the highest quality games based on Metacritic aggregate scores, as part of the free games it offers each month?

Calculating total retail cost provides an objective variable to determine overall value. This will not include the price of the same game bought in physical format, either new or used (as these prices are variable). Discounts on purchases will be omitted in this comparison. Another variable we’ll use is Metacritic aggregate scores to provide broad insight on the quality of these games. The intention is to see if any differences emerge. Games lacking a metascore will not be calculated into the final average, for fairness sake.

With this information, let’s take a look at the list of complementary games made available by participating in PS Plus or Xbox Live Gold:

Xbox Live Gold

PlayStation Plus

Name:Price (MSRP):Metacritic Score:Name:Price (MSRP):Metacritic Score:
World of Van Helsing: Deathtrap$19.9980Day of the Tentacle*$14.9984

January

The Cave$14.9970This War of Mine$29.9978
Killer Instinct Season 2 Ultra Edition$34.9985Blazerush (PS3)$9.9970
Rayman Origins$19.9987The Swindle*$14.9973
Azkend 2*$7.9967
Titan Souls*$14.9974
Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime$14.9982LittleBigPlanet 3$19.9979

February

Monkey Island 2 Special Edition$9.9985Not a Hero$12.9974
Project Cars Digital Edition$29.9981Starwhal$11.9978
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed$19.9973Anna: Extended Edition (PS3)$9.9975
Ninja Senki DX*$4.9964
TorqueL*$9.99
Layers of Fear$19.9978Disc Jam$14.9972

March

Evolve: Ultimate Edition$39.9974Tearaway: Unfolded$19.9981
Borderlands 2$19.9989Earth Defense Force 2025 (PS3)$49.9969
Heavy Weapon$9.9977Under Night: In-Birth (PS3)$39.9980
Severed (Vita)$14.9982
Lumo*$19.9973
Ryse: Son of Rome$19.9960Drawn to Death$19.9956

April

The Walking Dead: Season 2$24.9979Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime$14.9982
Darksiders$19.9983Invizimals: The Lost Kingdom (PS3)$14.9950
Assassins Creed: Revelations$19.9980Alien Rage (PS3)$14.9952
10-Second Ninja X*$9.9976
Curses’N’Chaos*$9.9970
Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams$14.9977Tales from the Borderlands$14.9986

May

Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris$19.9972Abzu$19.9978
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2$19.9961Blood Knights (PS3)$9.9943
LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga$19.9980Port Royale 3: Pirates and Merchants (PS3)$19.9954
Laser Disco Defenders*$9.9980
Type: Rider*$7.99
Speedrunners$14.9984Killing Floor 2$39.9975

June

Dragon Age: Origins$14.9986Life is Strange$19.9985
Watch Dogs$29.9978Abyss Odyssey (PS3)$14.9970
Assassin’s Creed 3$19.9984WRC 5 FIA World Rally Championship (PS3)$29.9962
Phantom Dust$14.9981Neon Chrome*$14.9963
Spy Chameleon*$4.9971
Grow Up$9.9974Until Dawn$19.9979

July

Runbow$14.9982Game of Thrones$19.9969
Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days$14.9963Tokyo Jungle (PS3)$14.9974
LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean$19.9973Darkstalkers Resurrection (PS3)$14.9980
Element4l (Vita)$9.9962
Don’t Die, Mr. Robot*$3.9976
Slime Rancher$19.9981Just Cause 3$59.9973

August

Bayonetta$19.9990Assassin’s Creed: Freedom Cry$14.9971
Trials Fusion$19.9980Super Motherload$14.9965
Red Faction: Armageddon$29.9971Snakeball (PS3)$9.9965
Downwell*$4.9980
Level 22 (Vita)$6.9969
Forza Motorsport 5$39.9979Infamous: Second Son$19.9980

September

Oxenfree$19.9978Strike Vector Ex$14.9975
Hydro Thunder Hurricane$14.9975Truck Racer (PS3)$9.99
Battlefield 3$19.9984Handball 16 (PS3)$19.99
We Are Doomed*$9.9961
Hatoful Boyfriend*$9.9972
Gone Home$19.9985Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain$19.9993

October

The Turing Test$19.9980Amnesia: Collection$29.9978
Rayman 3 HD$9.9969Monster Jam Battlegrounds (PS3)$9.99
Medal of Honor: Airborne$19.9973Hustle Kings (PS3)$9.9981
Hue*$14.9977
Sky Force Anniversary*$9.9977
Trackmania Turbo$39.9976Worms Battlegrounds$24.9962

November

Tales from the Borderlands$14.9988Bound$19.9971
Nights Into Dreams$9.9972R-Type Dimensions (PS3)$9.9982
Deadfall Adventures$39.9943Rag Doll Kung Fu: Fists of Plastic (PS3)$9.9968
Dungeon Punks*$14.9971
Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse (Vita)$24.9972
Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide$39.9977Darksiders 2: Deathinitive Edition$29.9972

December

Back to the Future: The Game$19.9975Kung Fu Panda: Showdown…$9.9963
Child of Eden$29.9984Syberia Collection (PS3)$29.99
Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death$14.9966Xblaze Lost: Memories (PS3)$39.9963
Forma.8$9.9978
Wanted Corp$11.9959
Total:$1,034.51Total:$1,228.28

Results

Average $/Month$86.21Average $/Month$102.36
Average Metacritic Score:77.22Average Metacritic Score:71.88
Results:

Plus:

  • (+): PlayStation Plus, in terms of retail value and quantity, offered 72 games at an estimated $1228.28 for various consoles on the PlayStation Network. This is a difference of $193.77, which is a clear margin between Xbox Live Gold.
  • (+): A unique factor for Plus is the Crossplay function that allows certain games to be played on both the PlayStation Vita and the PlayStation 4 through Cross Buy. Offers some additional games on the Vita that let you play on the go, as long as you have a Vita.
  • (+/-): Some games released each month are solely for PS3 or Vita (25 in 2017). If you don’t either of these, you’re out of luck. Still, six games a month free on average across PS3, PS4, Vita, and PSVR is pretty nice.
  • (-): PlayStation had a slightly lower Metacritic aggregate score of 71.88 for all free games offered in 2017.

Gold:

  •  Xbox Live Games With Gold offered 49 games for an estimated retail cost of $1034.51. In the comparison of retail price of free games, Gold was edged out by Plus, but $1000 of games is hardly something to scoff at. Still, for comparison’s sake, this results in a mark against Gold.
  • (+): All Xbox 360 games provided through Gold in 2017 are backwards compatible through the Xbox One console. They’re also free to keep if your membership expires.
  • (+): Gold edged out Plus in the metacritic comparison, winning with an aggregate score of 77.22.

Some of the finer details are noteworthy: both services offered a comparable number of quality first and third party games as well as large and small studio games. Multiple genres of games are also well-represented. However, the conclusions are still fairly subjective. If you’re on a budget and have one of these consoles, the value from free games you get from having one of these premium services is considerable. You’ll often get a number of quality games for your consoles each month.

Determination: 

  • If you have PS3, PS4, and Vita, then clearly you’ll get more mileage out of Plus. Annually, you may get more retail value than Gold, but you’ll still get 50% more games than Gold. Six games a month might be plenty for PlayStation gamers to enjoy.
  • If you’re looking for slightly better quality of games offered, Gold provided this in 2017. To be fair, 2018 might be a different story. However, if you also want to play all the games offered on a single console, The Xbox One with Gold is a worthy choice with its backwards compatibility.

Overall, this decision seems like a no-brainer if you already enjoy online console gaming. If not, you still get quite a good deal for only $60/year. Regardless, I’d love to hear your experiences about PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold and any other thoughts you might have in the comments below! Happy 2018 to you all! Have a New Year’s resolution? Perhaps starting a budget? The Tightwad Gamer Guide to Budgeting may be of use!

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