Game subscriptions and streaming services: Find the one that’s right for you

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Essentially PlayStation’s answer to Xbox Game Pass, PlayStation Plus has seen some major changes over the years. In June 2022, Sony launched an update that broke the single subscription option into three expanded tiers — Essential, Extra, and Premium. An Essential subscription, the most affordable option, gets users monthly games (two for PS4, one for PS5), the ability to play multiplayer games online, and PlayStation Store discounts.

Step up to the Extra tier and you’ll get the same benefits of being an Essential subscriber, plus ready access to a for-download-only library of PS4 and PS5 games. For those looking to get the most bang for their buck, the Premium tier includes everything mentioned so far, plus an additional “Classics” library of games from the PS1, PS2, and PS3 eras (some for download, some for cloud streaming), as well as time-limited access to demos for upcoming games.

While previously, PlayStation Now subscribers did not require a PlayStation Plus subscription as well, a recent merge has combined the two services. If you’re a previous PlayStation Now subscriber, its services are now incorporated into the PlayStation Plus Premium tier.

Sony’s PlayStation Now technically launched in 2014, but it’s come a long way since then. We’ll skip the history lesson and focus on what you get right now: A selection of more than 800 PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation 4 games, many of which can be downloaded and installed on a PS4 and all of which can be streamed to a PS4 or PC. 

All you need for streaming is a DualShock 4 controller (which you have if you already own a PS4) and an internet-connected computer from the past five years. The PC app for PlayStation Now lacks a search feature and can be challenging to navigate, but the games themselves work well. 

The only place where PS Now really comes up short is with new games. Sony doesn’t give you every new PlayStation original on day one like Xbox Game Pass does. That said, this is still a great deal for PS4 owners who like the idea of having a deep library that’s always available.

One final thing to note: While Sony does require a PlayStation Plus subscription for online gaming (just like Xbox Live Gold), you don’t need PS Plus for PS Now games. Anything you can get from your Now subscription lets you play online, whether or not you’re a Plus subscriber.



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