Why PlayStation Plus is Better Than Xbox Live

June 24, 2010Written by Jonathan Leack

Among the handfuls of information Sony revealed at E3 2010 was the announcement of the long-rumored PlayStation Plus. After months and months of rumors regarding a pay-to-play PlayStation Network, it was announced that the new PlayStation Plus will be an optional subscription-based system which rewards the consumer with several cool incentives including free games, early beta access and more. While the reception has been largely positive, several PlayStation 3 owners have voiced concerns about what the service will entail. However, when looking at what Sony is offering with PlayStation Plus side-by-side with Microsoft’s competing Xbox Live platform, PlayStation Plus is undoubtedly the better service.

To understand the true value of the upcoming PlayStation Plus service, first one must look at what both PlayStation Network and Xbox Live offer without a subscription. PSN is well-known for its free offerings, primarily the ability to play online games without any fees. On the other hand, Xbox Live requires a $50/year subscription in order to be able to play online. The question is, what do both offer without subscription and what benefits are there for those who pay the yearly fees? Below you can see what Xbox Live offers with its free Xbox Silver membership:

  • Gamertag
  • Avatar
  • Voice Chat
  • Text Chat
  • Achievements
  • Xbox Live Marketplace Access
  • Friend List

On the other hand, PlayStation Network has been offering and will continue to offer the following without a subscription or fees:

  • PSN ID
  • Avatar
  • Voice Chat
  • Text Chat
  • Trophies
  • PlayStation Store Access
  • Friend List
  • Video Chat/Web Conferencing
  • Online Play
  • Netflix
  • Facebook

Right off the bat it’s easy to see that PSN offers a much more robust and complete experience with the absence of fees. Without spending a single dime, PlayStation 3 owners can create a PSN ID, play online, earn trophies and chat with friends. However, many will argue that the selling point of not only Xbox Live but the Xbox experience as a whole is Gold membership. Unfortunately, the Gold Membership requires a fee of $50/year. Upgrading from a Silver account to a Gold Account nets you the following bonuses on Xbox Live:

  • Video Chat
  • Online Play
  • Cross-Game Voice Chat
  • Netflix
  • Sky Player
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • last.FM
  • Zune
  • 1 vs 100

Besides the video chat, cross-game voice chat and online play, Gold Membership doesn’t offer much more over the standard Silver membership other than application integration, most of which are available through the PS3’s internet browser. Now, of course online play is the centerpiece and holy grail for the Xbox 360, so many consumers justify the $50/year based on the ability to play online alone. This is mildly disturbing when you look at what PlayStation Plus offers for the same price:

  • 4 Games Per Month Free (1x PSN game, 2x minis, 1x PS One classic)
  • 2 Dynamic Themes Per Month
  • 2 Premium Avatars Per Month
  • Member-Only Game Add-Ons
  • 20% – 50% Discounts on Select PS Store Games and More
  • Early Beta Access
  • Early Demo Access
  • 2 Full Retail Game Trials Per Month
  • Automatic Updates
  • Qore Subscription

In total, subscribers can expect to receive 48+ games per year on top of the other benefits of the service. Dynamic Themes and Premium Avatars range from 50 cents to 3 dollars, and when coupled together with early beta access and retail trials, this is a service that really provides a subscription experience that consoles haven’t seen before. Sony has announced that retail games such as LittleBigPlanet will be finding their way onto the PlayStation Store, and PlayStation Plus subscribers will be able to play these for 1-hour free of charge before deciding whether or not to pay for the full game. Subscribers who choose to keep the game will be able to continue from their demo save and experience the game as if they purchased the game to begin with. This on top of the other neat bonuses will ensure that subscribers have something to look forward to and keep coming back for more.

While Xbox Live Gold is popular, its only real benefit is the addition of online play. Being able to look forward to new additions every month with PlayStation Plus is something that will excite consumers as they wait for the next month to come around so they can see what games are next. This is all while retaining the same PSN experience that PlayStation owners have come to love over the years, and online play will remain free. Essentially, for $50/year you receive basic features and online play with Xbox Live while PlayStation Network offers that as well as tons of free content and more. When both are taken into consideration, it’s easy to see why PlayStation Plus is the better service between the 2 kings of the court.