Which game subscription is best? Xbox vs PlayStation vs Nintendo

Paying for games ain’t cheap these days, so it’s well worth considering a game subscription for your preferred platform.

Xbox Game Pass Logo
Xbox Game Pass
Try first month for
$1
Type
Game library, on-demand game streaming, online play and monthly games
Game Library
400+ Xbox and PC games 1
Platforms
Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X, PC and Mobile
Nintendo Switch Online Logo
Nintendo Switch Online
Starts at
$5.95
/mth
Type
Classics game collection, online play, cloud saves and member discounts
Game library
150+ NES, SNES, N64 and Sega Megadrive games 2
Platforms
Nintendo Switch
playstation plus logo
PlayStation Plus
Starts at
$11.95
/mth
Type
Monthly games, exclusive discounts, game library, game trials, cloud storage and online play
Game library
Up to 800+ PS1, PS2, PSP, PS4 and PS5 games 3
Platforms
PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5

1. PC games available via Game Pass Ultimate and PC Game Pass tiers. Game Pass Ultimate includes Xbox Live Gold for online play.
2. Nintendo 64 and Sega Megadrive Games exclusive to Expansion Pack
3. PlayStation Plus Deluxe required for entire Game Library. See details below for Essential and Extra inclusions. 

January 23, 2023
6 min read

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Buying games isn’t as cheap a hobby as it used to be. These days, you can pay upwards of $125 for a new-gen console game, which is quite the pretty penny. No wonder people are turning to game subscription services to have access to a range of new and old games.

In Australia, the three main contenders are Xbox Game Pass, PlayStation Plus and Nintendo Switch Online. Each one has different offerings and perks, so let’s break it down.

Pricing: Which subscription is cheapest?

All three game subscription services offer different pricing tiers depending on what you’re after.

Service
Monthly price
Quarterly price
Annual price
Xbox Game Pass (console or Windows 10/11 PC)$10.95N/AN/A
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate$15.95N/AN/A
PlayStation Plus Essential$11.95$33.95$79.95
PlayStation Plus Extra$18.95$54.95$134.95
PlayStation Plus Deluxe$21.95$63.95$154.95
Nintendo Switch Online$5.95$11.95$29.95
Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion PackN/AN/A$59.95
Nintendo Switch Online (Family)N/AN/A$54.95
Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack (Family)N/AN/A$109.95

At a glance, Nintendo Switch Online is the clear winner on the value front with the cheapest monthly, quarterly and annual pricing. Nintendo also offers an annual family version of Switch Online and Switch Online + Expansion Pack, which can be used across eight Nintendo accounts.

In terms of trials, Nintendo also pulls ahead here because it offers a free seven-day trial for Nintendo Switch Online. Neither Xbox nor PlayStation offers a trial, but Microsoft regularly charges $1 for the first month of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. Admittedly, price only tells a tiny bit of the value tale for these services.

Here's a larger breakdown of games subscription services available in Australia:

Service
Trial
Monthly price
Online Play
Library size
Features
Platforms
$7.99
/mo
Yes200+
iOS games
Exclusive game library, online play, family sharing and weekly gamesiPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple TV
$15.95
/mo
Yes, includes Gold400+
Windows PC, X360, XBO and XSS and XSX
Monthly games, game library, cloud gaming, exclusive discounts and online playPC, Xbox One, Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X
$10.95
/mo
No400+
X360, XBO and XSS and XSX games
Monthly games, game library, cloud gaming, exclusive discounts and online playXbox One, Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X
$10.95
/mo
No400+
Windows PC games
Monthly games, game library, cloud gaming, exclusive discounts and online playPC
PS Plus Essential
$11.95
/mo
Required20+
PS Plus Collection games (only on PS5)
Monthly games, exclusive discounts, game library, game trials, cloud storage and online playPlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5
PS Plus ExtraPS Plus Extra
$18.95
/mo
Required400+
PS4 and PS5 games
Monthly games, exclusive discounts, game library, game trials, cloud storage and online playPlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5
PS Plus DeluxePS Plus Deluxe
$21.95
/mo
Required800+
PS1, PS2, PSP, PS4 and PS5 games
Monthly games, exclusive discounts, game library, game trials, cloud storage and online playPlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5
Nintendo Switch OnlineNintendo Switch Online
$5.95
/mo
Required for select titles100+
NES and SNES games
Online play, classics game library, cloud saves and exclusive member offersNintendo Switch
NSO Expansion PackNintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack
$59.95
/yr
Required for select titles150+
NES, SNES, N64 and SMD games
Online play, classics game library, cloud saves and exclusive member offersNintendo Switch
Google Play Pass LogoGoogle Play Pass
$7.99
/mo
Yes450+
Android games
Game library, app library, family sharing and yearly subscription optionsAndroid smartphones and tablets
Info Box
Game subscription platforms
All game subscriptions are available on respective current-gen consoles: Xbox Game Pass, PlayStation Plus and Nintendo Switch Online. As the name implies, Nintendo Switch Online is only available on the Nintendo Switch. But PlayStation Plus subscriptions are available on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 (although the PlayStation Plus Collection and Game Help aren’t available), while Xbox Game Pass is available on Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S consoles.

Current-gen games on Game Pass, PS Plus and Nintendo Switch Online

This is the first big one. After all, game subscription services need games to justify the price of admission over buying standalone games. If the value proposition is for people to pay around the cost of a game for a year’s subscription, then it makes sense to include new-gen games.

Nintendo doesn’t offer any new-gen games as part of either of its Nintendo Switch Online packages, unless you count Tetris 99 and Pac-Man 99. PlayStation Plus Essential has two monthly downloadable games, but they aren’t necessarily PlayStation 5 games. Xbox Game Pass had just shy of 100 new-gen games at the time of writing, mostly comprising first-party games published by Xbox Game Studios.

That’s one of the biggest differentiating perks of Xbox Game Pass: any new first-party Xbox game appears day one on the game subscription service. Admittedly, PlayStation Plus puts up a fight if you’re willing to pay for Extra or Deluxe, with more than 50 PlayStation 5 games available to download. Still, Xbox Game Pass takes the top spot for this category.

A photo of the Xbox Series S gaming console and a white controller

Pictured: Xbox Series S

Last-gen games on Game Pass, PS Plus and Nintendo Switch Online

Nintendo Switch lags again with no last-gen games (Wii U) as part of Nintendo Switch Online or Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack subscriptions. It’s a much tighter contest between Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Plus, albeit with some caveats.

PlayStation Plus Extra and Deluxe subscribers get access to the same library of downloadable PlayStation 4 games, which was 400+ at the time of writing and includes Ubisoft+ Classics. That’s a lot more than the 180+ on offer in the Xbox One section of Xbox Game Pass. The catch there, though, is that Game Pass number doesn’t include the cross-gen games that are optimised for Xbox Series X|S consoles. Regardless, PlayStation Plus Extra and Deluxe comfortably take this category.

PlayStation Plus 2022

Pictured: A few of the games offered by PlayStation Plus

Backwards compatibility: Xbox vs PlayStation vs Nintendo

Yes, yes, playing last-gen games on a new-gen console constitutes backwards compatibility. But we’re talking specifically about games beyond the last generation of consoles. This is where Nintendo Switch Online operates exclusively. Nintendo Switch Online has 60+ NES games and 50+ SNES titles. Expansion Pack subscribers also get 20+ N64 games and 30+ Sega Mega Drive games, the latter of which is painful if you, like me, backed Sega as the “best console ever” in school.

Xbox Game Pass only had 40 Xbox 360 and original Xbox titles at the time of writing. PlayStation Plus Deluxe had 80+ games under the PlayStation Classics umbrella. While the quality of the games is mostly up to personal preference, Nintendo Switch Online has the largest count of old-school games.

Info Box
Library totals
When it comes to the combined library tallies, it’s a close race between Xbox and PlayStation. Nintendo Switch Online, at best, has around 160 playable games in Australia, all of which are from the Nintendo 64 generation or prior. At the time of writing, the PlayStation Plus Deluxe tally was just shy of 440 PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 games, while Xbox Game Pass had more than 470 games across Xbox generations.

Game trials: Xbox vs PlayStation vs Nintendo

Game trials are available on all three game subscription services in one form or another. For Nintendo Switch Online, game trials of upcoming games are sometimes available to download. PlayStation Plus Deluxe has a selection of 30+ games, which offer two hours of play.

On Xbox Game Pass, previews take a couple of different forms. There are the handful of games that are part of the Game Preview program, which are actively in development but are playable in an early access state. Because EA Play is part of Xbox Game Pass, subscribers can play up to 10 hours of selected new-release EA titles. Xbox takes this category.

The Last of Us Part I | PS5 | Best games 2022

PS Plus subscribers can trial The Last of Us Part I for free

Subscriber perks and extras

The main baked-in extra for all three subscription services is online multiplayer. For PlayStation and Nintendo, you need either PlayStation Plus Essential or Nintendo Switch Online, respectively, at the very least to access online multiplayer on those systems. Xbox Game Pass comes with online multiplayer, but Xbox Live Gold is available for $10.95 a month: yup, the same price as Xbox Game Pass.

Similarly, all game subscriptions include online cloud saves, though Xbox console users don’t technically need Xbox Game Pass to take advantage of this feature. Features start to dry up for Nintendo Switch Online, with in-game bonuses for Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. That’s about it without spending more money on game vouchers or classic controllers.

PlayStation Plus players get exclusive in-game content, discounts and Share Play, which lets you play couch multiplayer games online. Game Help is a unique and handy feature for PlayStation 5 owners that offers spoiler-free hints and tips for supported games.

Xbox players have to pony up for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to get perks. Basic perks include in-game content and, at the time of writing, three-month trials for services like Apple Music and Calm Premium. The big perk, though, is platform compatibility. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate lets owners access a mostly similar library of games across recent Xbox consoles as well as Windows 10 and Windows 11 PCs.

Beyond this, there’s Xbox Cloud Gaming, which means around 380 games can be streamed to an impressive range of devices: Xbox Series X|S, Windows PCs, Edge and Chrome browsers, Android, iOS, Samsung TV and Xbox One. It means Xbox One owners can stream new-gen Xbox games and everyone benefits from no need to download a game before they can start playing. You also don’t need a souped-up computer to stream games.

Xbox Cloud Gaming is a huge perk that’s improved a lot since it was called xCloud, and it helps Xbox Game Pass to take out this category. If PS Now was available in Australia—Sony’s equivalent of game streaming for PS4, PS3 and PS2 games—this category would be a tighter contest.

What is Telstra's Xbox All Access deal?

Telstra's Xbox All Access deal is a way to bundle a new Xbox console with your mobile or internet plan. It gets you an Xbox console of your choice (Xbox Series S or Xbox Series X), access to Game Pass Ultimate (typically $15.95 per month), plus all your included mobile and internet plan benefits.

It kind of works like a phone plan. You pay your standard monthly plan fees, then a monthly fee for your console of choice on top of that over 24 months. There are no upfront fees and you can cancel anytime, you'll just need to pay the remainder of the hardware costs if you do (you do get to keep the console, after all).

Plan
Inclusions
Price
Details
Image of the Xbox Series SXbox Series S subscription
  • Xbox Series S - 512GB console
  • Monthly subscription to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate

$33/mth for 24 mths
Total min. cost $792

A black Xbox Series X console with controllerXbox Series X subscription
  • Xbox Series X -1TB console
  • Monthly subscription to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate

$46/mth for 24 mths
Total min. cost $1,104

Game subscription FAQs

Is Xbox Cloud Gaming free?
Xbox Cloud Gaming isn’t free and costs $15.95 a month as part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. If you want to try Xbox Cloud Gaming before you buy, you can play Fortnite for free via compatible web browser.
What’s the point of having PlayStation Plus?
You need PlayStation Plus to play games online on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5, plus PlayStation Plus supports online cloud saves. There are three versions of PlayStation Plus in Australia—Essential, Extra and Deluxe—which incrementally cost more but include more features, particularly for PlayStation 5 owners.
Is it free to play online on Nintendo Switch?
There are occasionally free weekends but Nintendo Switch Online is a requirement for online play. There is, however, a seven-day free trial for Nintendo Switch Online before paying $5.95 a month, $11.95 a quarter or $29.95 a month for the basic subscription, which includes online play.
Nathan Lawrence
Written by
Nathan Lawrence
Nathan Lawrence has been banging out passionate tech and gaming words for more than 11 years. These days, you can find his work on outlets like IGN, STACK, Fandom, Red Bull and AusGamers. Nathan adores PC gaming and the proof of his first-person-shooter prowess is at the top of a Battlefield V scoreboard.

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