Are you ready for the next generation of consoles that are releasing in November? Because the launch of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One is quickly approaching. Since we’ll all be investing in next-gen consoles at one point in time, it’s worth having a look at the differences between their multiplayer and online capabilities.
In the recent months, some things have changed while other aspects of the online services remain the same.
I might not be able to decide which is better for you, but there are obvious differences that will appeal to different types of gamers.
The question you’ll have to ask yourself is which online service will earn your money when it comes to PlayStation Plus vs. Xbox Live?
- The free games every month that come with a PS Plus subscription are absolutely worth the service’s purchase.
- With Xbox Live, you get a trusted online service and innovative features that are well worth the yearly subscription.
If you follow the links directly above, you’ll see that both services have a lot of positive reviews so how do you decide right? Let’s take a closer look at both services so that you can make a better purchasing decision for your next-gen gaming experience.
In the next generation of video game consoles, it seems that the online services for PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold will be fighting for your dollars even more so than before. You would think it unfortunate that PlayStation Plus is now required for online multiplayer (excluding Free-to-Play games). But if PS Plus wants to compete with Xbox Live’s perceived standard of providing superior online services in the coming generation then they will need your money. But are you willing to spend that amount of money over the next 5-10 years to truly experience what these consoles have to offer? Let’s face it, in the next-gen, these consoles were designed to take full advantage of internet connectivity. And you can either get the watered down version or go for the version that PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold have envisioned for us.
Differences in PS Plus and Xbox Live Gold
The primary difference between the two is business related. Microsoft is using their familiar system where only people with Xbox Live Gold can access online gaming and online services like Netflix, etc. Whereas Sony announced that you don’t need PlayStation Plus to play all games online. The PlayStation Network also allows anyone to use online services like streaming applications for free. Although, Sony has taken a page from Microsoft and is now requiring you be a PlayStation Plus subscriber to access online multiplayer for most games.
For a very long time, Microsoft’s Xbox Live business strategy has worked. You can’t argue with success. If this wasn’t true, Sony would have stuck with a completely free PlayStation Network and never have introduced the PlayStation Plus subscription model. You could also argue that the Xbox Live business model next-gen is getting better because it offers more content such as the option to integrate television, a more reliable network, smart match technology, and a reputation system to keep gamers in check. However, PS Plus fans would argue that it’s not free, and without paying a subscription fee, you’re left with a barebones service. So here we see a definitive split between fans and a line drawn between personal preferences. Xbox Live seems to be aimed towards people who are planning on using their console as an entertainment hub. Not as many of the extra features are actually as game-based as we would have liked.
As for price, Xbox Live is $60 for one year, and PlayStation Plus is $50. This is only a $10 a year difference, but if you think about how long you’ll be using your console… it could be up to 7-10 years. So PlayStation Plus obviously wins on this front. But then we come to value-for-money. Is the extra $10 worth it for Xbox Live?
You get what you pay for
To some it’s not, to others it is. Does it seem worth it to you? Because many believe that gaming consoles are for gaming. From what we’ve seen in the past, that’s the main focus of PlayStation Plus. On the PS3, PlayStation Plus would give you tons of new games as soon as you subscribed. Thanks to it, I was introduced to excellent games like Battlefield 3 and several others that I would not have purchased. Xbox Live Gold is more of an essential feature and so this extra service is a lot less likely to make an appearance. Even though PlayStation Plus is becoming more necessary than it was before, it still retains the premium feel that we know from the PS3. Xbox Live is a lot less known for giving you free games, and when they do they’re usually not that recent.
But, there is a lot to be said for the variety of apps and features that Xbox Live offers. The Xbox One operating system allows you to snap content side by side so you to run apps like Skype, stream videos/music and use internet explorer at the same time. It looks incredibly smooth and it’s a brilliant addition to the user interface. The functionality is similar to that of Windows 8, and despite criticism of Windows 8 you can’t deny it’s very efficient, smooth and aesthetic. I have Windows 7 on my gaming laptop and Windows 8 on my Mac and XPS Ultrabook. On Windows 8, I’m always writing content like this and doing work while watching the Venture Bros in a snapped view. Spoiler alert…snapping stuff is awesome! On Xbox Live, this feature works in conjunction with your video games too. If you want to play a game while talking to your buddies on Skype then you can do it no problem. And I wholeheartedly welcome this feature on Xbox One.
The main thing that worries me about the Xbox Live service is that they will be straying too far from games. The fact of the matter is most of us have TVs and computers. We want a games console for games. Microsoft is trying to mix all of the above with their console. While it’s understandable, it’s definitely not for everyone. And this is where Sony’s approach has the main edge for us gamers.
PlayStation Plus is about gaming
Everyone who buys a games console wants to play games… it’s a games console. Not everyone who buys a games console wants to talk to their friends, watch sports, etc. So Microsoft is busy targeting what could be considered a minority with their approach (customers who will be a $500 games console to just watch TV). Whereas PlayStation Plus is much more likely to appeal to everyone who owns a PS4. This doesn’t give Sony the advantage in sales though, because lots of people will still be able to enjoy games without PS Plus. Remember, you can still play Free-to-Play games online, access streaming services like Netflix and enjoy most of the popular functionality of the PlayStation Network. That’s very appealing to a lot of people. It’s also a statement to gamers that Sony values your investment in the PlayStation 4 and wants you to be able to enjoy most of what the console has to offer. PlayStation Plus is just added value on top of established value. This isn’t the case with Xbox Live though. Follow this link and you can get PlayStation Plus as low as $17.99.
The next thing to mention are the game streaming services. You may be aware that both Sony and Microsoft have partners for their streaming services. Microsoft are going with Twitch TV, while Sony are opting for UStream and Twitch TV. Both of these services are very popular and are both well respected. Twitch TV is famous for PC games like League of Legends, DOTA and StarCraft. Whereas Ustream is considered much more broad.
The way you stream on either console will essentially work in similar ways to each other. People with PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live will be able to stream their games on the PS/Xbox network and their friends (and people around the world) will be able to watch. I think that PlayStation actually has the edge with this because of the way streaming integrates with playing games. We’ve seen examples of people getting stuck on a level, then streaming it and having a friend take over across the network. This means that people will be able to manually control your game from over the PSN. Microsoft hasn’t mentioned a similar feature to this, but that’s not to put their streaming service down.
How important is PS Plus or Xbox Live Gold to you?
Xbox Live vs. PlayStation Plus might not be that important for your playing experience, but it’s definitely something to consider along with price and exclusive console games. I know that PlayStation Plus appeals to me the most, but if you’re less of a gamer and more of a media consumer you might enjoy Xbox Live Gold more. That said, I believe that anyone could enjoy either. I will have both PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold next generation because I enjoy both services for what they have to offer. They have both earned my money in the current gen and will continue to earn it in the coming generation.
How about you? Who will earn your money and why? Let us know in the comments below.
In 2011, IGN wrote an article where they estimated the total savings for the first year of PlayStation Plus service was $881.57. And here is what they thought about it 2 years later. I can honestly say I’ve easily made my money back in the first few months of PlayStation Plus and the Instant Games Collection has far exceeded my expectations! I have a PS3 and PS Vita so…I have more free games than I can even deal with. I was skeptical about PS Plus for a long time. Now, I could not imagine gaming without it.