In 2010, Sony launched PlayStation Plus, a $49.99 per year ($59.99 as of September 2016) premium subscription service which offered a variety of complimentary games to users. The number of games initially varied from month to month, but, starting in July 2014, they streamlined the process so that six games a month (two each for PS4, PS3, and Vita) are on offer for subscribers. If users add the game to their library before it is taken down the next month, then they can play the game for as long as they remain Plus members, even if they quit the service and then return at a later date.
In 2013, Microsoft followed suit, adding complimentary games to Xbox Live Gold members; Xbox One games follow the PS Plus model, being unavailable to play if your subscription lapses, but Xbox 360 titles remain in users’ libraries in perpetuity; they’re yours to keep forever.
With that in mind, which service has enjoyed a better selection of titles: Games With Gold or PlayStation Plus? We went through the painstaking process of finding numbers, putting them in charts, and analyzing the results in an effort to answer that very question.
We looked at the data from the past two years, comparing Plus and Gold across various metrics, including a game’s age, Metacritic score, and platform exclusivity. In the interest of fairness, we only factored in PS3, PS4, 360, and Xbox One games. We chose not to analyze Vita games, as Microsoft has no equivalent handheld. However, if a game is cross-buy across Vita and one of Sony’s home consoles, then we included it in our analysis.
In 2015 and 2016, PlayStation Plus Subscribers received 118 games across PS3 and PS4. During that same period, Microsoft delivered 93 Xbox titles to Xbox Live Gold members. For those keeping count, that’s 25 fewer games than on PlayStation. In terms of sheer quantity, Sony has Microsoft beat by a wide margin.
Over the two-year period, the average Metacritic score for PlayStation Plus offerings was 74.6. The highest-scoring title was Mass Effect 2 (94), followed closely by Journey (92) and Limbo (90). Some of the lowest-scoring titles included Datura (57) and Pumped BMX+ (56). The dubious recognition for the lowest-scoring PlayStation Plus title is a tie between Medal of Honor Warfighter and Table Top Racing, which both scored a mere 55 at the critical aggregate site.
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On the Microsoft side, the average Metacritic score was nearly identical, clocking in at 74.8. The highest scoring games were Gears of War 2 and BioShock Infinite, which both landed lofty 93s. Runner-ups included The Walking Dead Season 1 (92) Rayman Legends (91), and Gears of War 3 (91). Of course, Microsoft also offered a handful of stinkers. The lowest-rated title was Goat Simulator, which sits at paltry 53 on Metacritic, even lower than Medal of Honor. Other underwhelming titles include the co-op shooter Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel (54), Zheroes (57), and Tron Evolution (58).
Next: more comparisons between the free games of PlayStation Plus and Xbox Games With Gold.