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Xbox Game Pass, EA Access: Which Video Game Subscription Is Worth It – Junkee

You’ve already got Netflix, Stan, Spotify and Audible. Video games are rapidly increasing their online subscription services, too — letting you download, stream and play games across a bunch of platforms.

But what do you get exactly, and which ones are worth signing up for? Here’s everything you need to know.

Price: $5.95 monthly, $29.95 annually, $54.95 Family Membership (for up to eight accounts annually).

In a sentence: By far the cheapest of the major game subscription services, Nintendo Switch Online (NSO) is also one of the lightest offerings.

What does it include?

In line with console counterparts PlayStation and Xbox, Nintendo’s service is required to play online multiplayer games, excluding free-to-play games like Fortnite which do not require a subscription.

NSO also introduces cloud saves for the first time on a Nintendo platform, allowing you to backup game save data online. Frustratingly, a handful of games including flagship first-party titles like Splatoon 2 and Pokemon: Let’s Go block the use of cloud saves in a bizarre effort to combat unfair play in online multiplayer games.[1]

Beyond the basic online features and smartphone app NSO provides, you’ll get access to a growing library of retro Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) games. This library includes remixes, such as a variant of Metroid where you can play with all abilities from the beginning.[2]

Arguably, the greatest drawcard for subscribing to NSO is the exclusive access to Tetris 99, the competitive battle royale version of everyone’s favourite block-stacking puzzler. It’s pretty damn good.

How to get it for cheap:

The Family Membership option makes it dirt cheap if you split the cost with family and friends – less than $7 each if you sign up with seven others! The folks at Nintendo community site Vooks have a huge FAQ article including more details and ways to save on the NSO.[3]

Is it worth it?

For the low price, NSO is decent enough value aside from needing it for online multiplayer. Worth it for Tetris 99, honestly.

Price: Xbox Live Gold — $10.95 monthly, $79.95 annually, regular promotional prices throughout the year. Xbox Game Pass — $1 for first three months, $10.95 monthly, regular promotional prices throughout the year.

In a sentence: Xbox Game Pass is one of the best game services available in Australia that will only get better when Xbox Game Pass Ultimate launches later this year.

What do they include?

Live Gold is required for online multiplayer and offers a few additional perks, whereas Game Pass is an on-demand service like Netflix where you can download and play games from a library.

Starting with Xbox Live Gold, there are the expected online multiplayer and cloud storage features. In addition to this, you’ll receive up to four games across Xbox One, plus the original Xbox and Xbox 360 via backwards compatibility, each month to download and play during an active subscription. Additionally, Live Gold also nets you some pretty decent discounts on purchases made through the Xbox digital storefront.

Xbox Game Pass, on the other hand, allows you to download and play from a library of well over 100 games. Similar to your favourite film and TV streaming services, new content is regularly added, but older stuff is removed, too.[4]

Plus, Windows 10 PC users can play a handful of Game Pass titles, as long as they fall under the “Xbox Play Anywhere” category.[7]

How to get it for cheap

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is coming later this year, which bundles both Game Pass and Live Gold into one package for $15.95 a month.

In the meantime, Game Pass routinely offers targeted discounts throughout the year, especially alongside events such as E3. The best way to get these deals is to first disable automatic renewal via your Microsoft account. This way, you’ll receive discounted offers via your Xbox dashboard to extend your subscription. It seems to differ from person to person – some people see 50% off three-month subscriptions, others 33% off six-month subscriptions – so be sure to check every now and then to see what you can save.[8]

Additionally, Live Gold can be bought at a discount from department stores and online. OzBargain often tracks the best of these offers, so it’s a good place to gauge when to strike.[9]

Is it worth it?

Xbox Game Pass is, absolutely! Especially with many of Xbox’s first-party games like Forza Horizon 4 and Sea of Thieves available on launch day. Upcoming games like Ori and the Will of the Wisps will also be available when they launch, too.[10]

Live Gold less so, unless you play online multiplayer. When the Ultimate bundle launches, there’ll no doubt be various promotions which will create even more value for money.

Price: $10.95 monthly, $79.95 annually, semi-regularly discounted.

In a sentence: Used to be cheaper and offer more in return, but now pales alongside Xbox’s subscription products in Australia.[11]

What does it include?

Online multiplayer and cloud saves, as expected. Previously, PS Plus offered up to six games a month: two each for PS4, PS3 and PS Vita (RIP, you beautiful thing) respectively. People argued until their faces turned blue about the quality of said games, but there were many regular gems to be found. Now, subscribers receive just two PS4 games. Of course, the PS3 and Vita can’t be supported forever, but in the absence of Game Pass-like service PlayStation Now in Australia, there’s not as much value remaining in PlayStation’s subscription offering Down Under.[12][13]

You’ll also get PS Plus-exclusive content for games like Apex Legends, Fortnite and Warframe, in addition to extra discounts on the PlayStation Store.[14]

Xbox Game Pass, EA Access: Which Video Game Subscription Is Worth It - Junkee

It’s also important to note that with both PS Plus and Xbox Live Gold, you need to claim the monthly games during the month they’re offered – you can’t retrospectively add previous months’ games to your account, even if you had an active subscription at the time.

How to get it for cheap:

PlayStation Plus is regularly discounted by 20-25% at department stores and online, so it’s worth checking when it’s been on sale before to get an idea of when it might next go for cheap.[15]

Is it worth it?

As it currently stands, PS Plus doesn’t offer as much value as its Xbox counterpart. Arguably, PS Plus and Xbox Live Gold are best viewed as a means to play online multiplayer, and everything else is a bonus.

Currently, Xbox’s bonuses outweigh PlayStation’s, especially with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate on the horizon, combining its two subscription services into one.

Price: Origin Access Basic is $6.99 monthly, $39.99 annually. Origin Access Premier is $19.99 monthly, $129.99 annually. EA Access is $6.99 monthly, $39.99 monthly.

In a sentence: Excellent value thanks to EA’s collection of great games, especially for fans of EA Sports.

What do they include?

Beginning with the PC-based Origin Access, you have the option between the cheaper Basic subscription, or the much more expensive Premier. Both levels are on-demand services that offer a library of games to download and play through the Origin client. When compared side-by-side, there’s not much difference between the two despite the gulf in price.

Xbox Game Pass, EA Access: Which Video Game Subscription Is Worth It - Junkee

However, Premier is the only option that provides full access to all EA games as soon as they release, or sometimes a few days early. Currently, Premier includes unlimited access to the likes of Anthem, Battlefield V, and non-EA game Darksiders III.

Basic subscribers still get 10-hour trials of the Premier-exclusive games, which is a handy way of knowing which games are worth your time and money. Both tiers also get a slight discount of 10% off any Origin purchases.

Conversely, EA Access is an Xbox-exclusive subscription service, offering a range of Xbox One and backwards compatible Xbox 360 games. While it doesn’t match the sheer volume of Origin Access on PC, there’s still plenty of cool games to play, including the Mass Effect series, Titanfall 2 and a plethora of EA Sports titles. You’ll also get the bonus 10% discount off any EA digital purchases made through your Xbox.

How to get it for cheap:

Origin Access’ price tends to remain static, whereas people have bought EA Access for cheaper using third-party digital code retailers – there’s always a risk when buying from a third-party, so do your research beforehand.[16]

Is it worth it?

This basic bitch recommends Origin Access Basic and EA Access for Xbox One, absolutely. There’s a strong library of exclusive games for dirt cheap, especially if you don’t mind waiting half a year or so to play the latest EA Sports game.

Premier is a significant jump in price, but if you’re the sort who buys the latest FIFA and Madden on release, you could easily justify the cost.

Price: Approximately $17 (US$12) monthly.

In a sentence: Teased by a prominent game, receive a digital loot crate of mystery PC games every month.

What does it include?

Each month, Humble Monthly announces a big-name game or two that you can immediately add to your Steam library (or other client, game-dependent) if you subscribe for the upcoming month. Following this, you’ll receive roughly eight more games on the first Friday of the month. However, these additional games Humble provides are a mystery until then.

Xbox Game Pass, EA Access: Which Video Game Subscription Is Worth It - Junkee

The catch is that you can’t wait until all the games are revealed before subscribing. Once the month ticks over, you can only subscribe for the next bundle while you wistfully eye off the previous month’s games, pondering what could’ve been.

Xbox Game Pass, EA Access: Which Video Game Subscription Is Worth It - Junkee

While subscribed, you also get 10% off all purchases through the Humble store.

How to get it for cheap:

There are slight discounts to be had by subscribing annually. Alternatively, Humble really doesn’t want you to unsubscribe. I recently unsubscribed and was forced to jump through multiple hoops, culminating in a minor discount offered as a last-ditch effort to keep me. It was messier than Brexit, I swear.

Is it worth it?

Humble claims you get over US$100 worth of games each month, which is true to each game’s full retail price when they first released.

The mystery box nature of Humble Monthly makes it a frustrating prospect rooted in subjectivity – some months will be considered better than others.

In short, yes, Humble Monthly is terrific value if you enjoy all sorts of AAA and indie games – often, the early-reveal game is worth the price of admission.

But wait, there’s more!

As if we needed more subscriptions to fill the gaping void of emptiness in our lives created by, and conversely fleetingly filled by, capitalism. However, Apple Arcade is looking pretty neat for Mac and iOS users, with lots of upcoming games in development exclusively for the service. Plus, Google Stadia promises to bring cloud-based gaming to a whole new level. Neither have confirmed details regarding subscription models, but expect both to be major players on the horizon.[17][18]

With all the money billed to our accounts by good-value game subscription services, it’s a wonder why boomers haven’t penned an op-ed lamenting how Xbox Game Pass is preventing millennials from entering the housing market.

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