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Console Subscriptions: Which one is the best bang for buck?

Credit: IGN

Anyone affiliated with the modern gaming world is aware of console subscription services. They are usually bought in order to access online multiplayer, but can also include a catalog of games for an extra fee. The most well known are Xbox Game Pass, PlayStation Plus, and Nintendo Switch Online. But out of all main three, is there an objective best option? 

Nintendo offers $7.99 per three months for basic Nintendo Switch Online, a significantly cheaper cost in comparison to Xbox and PlayStation’s standard online subscription cost: $9.99 per month. Players also have the option to upgrade their Nintendo subscription to include the Switch Expansion pack for $49.99 per year. The core subscription allows the player to emulate (in other words, play) games from the NES. The Expansion Pack “expands” on this with the addition of both Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis emulators. 

While Nintendo Switch Online is the most affordable of all the services, the quality of the service certainly reflects the price. According to Anthony Rivera, a teacher at Thunderbird High School, Switch Online’s internet functionality is rather dubious.  Anyone is better off playing multiplayer Nintendo Switch games in person rather than subject themselves through the horrid, laggy online performance. Really, the emulators these services offer highlight the main reason to buy in the first place.

That leaves PlayStation and Xbox’s services. Their prices for a monthly core subscription are nearly identical, and grant most, if not all, the same standard features as each other. 

Xbox has an upgraded version of their core service, Game Pass Ultimate, which costs $16.99 a month. Game Pass Ultimate provides all the benefits of the core membership along with an extended catalog of games for console, PC, and cloud gaming. Additionally, new users can try out the subscription for 14 days for only $1 to see if they wish to commit to the service or not. Game Pass Ultimate caters to those who love EA’s catalog of games as it includes EA play, which provides nearly all of EA’s most recent suite of games for immediate play.

PlayStation Plus also contains a “Premium” version of its service. Like Xbox, this upgraded service includes the original features of the core membership. Starting at $17.99, players are granted an additional catalog of games, game trials, and PS5 cloud streaming. Unlike Xbox, this subscription includes Ubisoft+ classics and a small catalog of Sony Picture films. 

So is there an objective “best” service? Not really. These upgraded services have their own appeals to their respective audiences. It would not come as a surprise to see someone interested in the Insomniac Spider man and God of War games lean towards the PlayStation Plus services, while a Halo and Forza fan leans towards Xbox’s service. Rivera adds that his go-to service is Xbox Game Pass Ultimate due to the catalog of SEGA games it offers. Ultimately, the decision to pick the service comes down to preference.

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