It’s a clear victory over the competing PS Now service, available on PS4 consoles, which reached a far smaller figure of one million subscribers in late 2019. But the difference is even more startling when you consider the difference in size for the two services’ game libraries.
Xbox Game Pass features a catalogue of 100+ games, which is a fraction of the 800+ PS Now games available. The latter launched years earlier, too – in 2014, while Xbox Game Pass launched in 2017 – meaning it had a far longer run-up to build up a name for itself. Given the far larger install base of the PS4, too, how has Microsoft managed to outgrow its competitor by such a large margin?
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Despite the relatively small size of the Xbox Game Pass catalogue, the selection of games is consistently stronger than that of PS Now.
While Sony tends to save its best games for its monthly PS Plus free game drop – with May 2020 being something of an exception – Microsoft has ensured its most tempting titles are available through its game subscription service, as with the recent addition of Red Dead Redemption 2.
Quantity isn’t necessarily a good thing, either, making it hard to find the games you do want to play. The biggest issue for PS Now, though, may be how it awkwardly treads the line between different services – allowing you to stream some games and download others, without a uniform way of accessing the many titles in its catalogue. Xbox Game Pass, by contrast, is a purely a downloads platform – with Microsoft's Project xCloud initiative set to offer a streaming alternative.
Not so hardware
That makes sense, though, with the launch of the next-gen Xbox Series X coming later this year, and gamers likely to wait out the tail-end of a console generation in order to get the latest model when it arrives. Price drops across all existing Xbox consoles will likely have contributed to this too.
The effects of lockdown on Xbox is becoming clearer, too, with the last financial quarter seeing a 1% drop in gaming revenue, but a 2% increase in “Xbox content and services” – like Xbox Game Pass – compared to this time last year (via GamesIndustry.biz).
In other news, Nintendo’s online service, Nintendo Switch Online, is also re-offering free seven day trials to users across the US and Europe. If you used yours up already, it’s time to jump on all those Nintendo Switch Online games again.
- Xbox Series X: what you need to know
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Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former News & Features Editor for TechRadar, where he specialized in home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, projectors, soundbars, and smart speakers. Other bylines include Edge, T3, iMore, GamesRadar, NBC News, Healthline, and The Times.