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Best gaming subscription services: Find the best option for your gaming needs

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Game subscription services are one of those ideas that seemed to go from non-existence to offered on every single platform and publisher within  a year. They are a great option for gamers who don’t want to drop $60 on a new game that they might only play for a month or less before moving on to another title. It’s also a great way to catch up on  some fantastic older games. 

Whatever platform you game on, be it console, PC, or even mobile, there is a game streaming service that is going to be the perfect fit for your gaming needs. Some, like Xbox Game Pass or PlayStation Now, offer compatibility with their respective consoles as well as PCs. 

And for those who are huge fans of a single publisher, there are several enticing options that can get you everything that company puts out in a year for hundreds less than you would pay buying standalone games and DLC.

Here’s a closer look at the best game subscription services available today with some helpful tips on finding the right option for you.

Xbox Game Pass

Best game subscription service for Xbox fans

Price: $5 to $15 per month | Platforms: Xbox One and PCs

Xbox Game Pass is one of the best value game subscription services today with a collection of over 100 games for Xbox and PC. Xbox One customers pay more at $10 a month, but there are more titles available to them, PC subscribers pay $5 a month and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is $15 a month and adds in Xbox Live Gold saving you $5 a month. New subscribers can get the first month for just $1.

One particularly notable thing about the Xbox Game Pass library is that it includes a lot of major AAA titles from recent years and that it will offer access to some games on the day and date of their release, which is a far cry from the more stale offerings of many other gaming subscription services. 

Xbox Game Pass is set to get even better later this year as it will integrate Project xCloud, Microsoft’s cloud-gaming service, meaning you’ll be able to play these games on your smartphone or tablet as well. Xbox Game Pass will naturally also be supported on the Xbox Series X when it is released later this year.

(Image credit: Joeri Mostmans / Shutterstock.com)

PlayStation Now

Best game subscription service for PlayStation fans

Price: $10 per month | Platforms: PS4 and PCs

PlayStation Now hits you with a massive library of over 800 games playable on your PS4 or PC for either $10 a month, $25 for three months, or $60 for the full year. New subscribers can try the service free for seven days.

Whether you’re a newbie or a big PlayStation fan looking to catch up on older games,this is a fantastic deal as it includes some of the biggest hits from the PS2, PS3, and PS4. The library is not as up-to-date as what you see from Xbox Game Pass, but the sheer volume of content available makes up for that.

If you have a fast internet connection, you can simply stream the games from PlayStation Now. However, have the option to download games if you would prefer a more stable experience. PlayStation Now should also be supported on the PS5 when it launches later this year.

(Image credit: EA)

EA Access/Origin Access

Best game subscription service for fans of sports and space

Price: $5 to $15 per month | Platforms: Xbox One and PS4 (EA Access); PC (Origin Access)

As you probably already guessed, EA Access is a subscription service to EA’s games. It includes approximately 90 games for both the PS4 and Xbox One. EA splits out the service for PC gamers as Origin Access, but it is otherwise identical in cost and features.

The basic membership gives you access to these games for $5 a month or $30 for the full year, while the Premier membership is $14.99 a month or $100 for the full year and gives you early access (5-days prior to launch), a 10% discount on most things in the Origin Store, and access to The Vault, which includes some additional games on a rotating basis and even third-party games.

The older sports games are definitely juicing the numbers a bit for EA. I’m not certain how many users are going to want to go back and play 2013’s Madden 25, but there are tons of great games in there, including some hugely popular series like Star Wars: Battlefront, Titanfall, Mass Effect, Need for Speed, Battlefield, Dead Space, Dragon Age and more. 

If you’ve somehow missed any of these series, it’s worth considering an EA Access membership, at least for long enough to experience some of them for hundreds less than buying them separately.

(Image credit: Future)

Nintendo Switch Online

Best game subscription service for Nintendo Switch owners

Price: $4 per month | Platforms: Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Switch Online is necessary if you want to play multiplayer games online on your Switch. It includes a game subscription service for $4 a month, $8 every three months, or $19.99 a year. If the whole family (or group of friends) wants to play, you can pay $35/year for a subscription that covers up to eight users. 

Unlike PlayStation Now and Xbox Game Pass, there are no new games to be found in Nintendo Switch Online. However, this is   Nintendo we’re talking about so the service includes some of the all-time greatest hits from the Super Nintendo and original NES such as the entire Super Mario series through Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, Mario Kart, Metroid, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and more. 

Nintendo has slowly added to this list and we'll hopefully see them expand beyond the Nintendo and Super Nintendo someday, as the Switch is certainly powerful enough to handle the emulation of more recent Nintendo consoles.

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

UPlay Plus

Best game subscription service for Ubisoft fans

Price: $15 per month | Platforms: PCs

UPlay Plus is the perfect service for PC gamers that loves Ubisoft's series, like Assassin’s Creed, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon, Far Cry, Rainbow Six, and Watch Dogs. Unfortunately, it doesn’t carry over to consoles, but much like Origin Access Premier, this service gives you access to every new Ubisoft game the day it is released with all of the add-ons and bonus content for $15 a month.

UPlay Plus also guarantees beta access to Ubisoft games for subscribers. The library includes over 100 Ubisoft games, including titles all the way back to the Heroes of Might and Magic series, and more recent games like Prince of Persia, The Crew, and Rayman. 

It’s a pretty simple equation, do you regularly spend more than $180 a year on Ubisoft games and DLC? Then this is going to save you money and score you early access to betas along with a large back catalog of games.

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple Arcade

Best game subscription service for Apple users

Price: $5 per month | Platforms: iOS, iPad OS, tvOS, macOS

For mobile gaming fans who prefer Apple hardware, Apple Arcade gives you access to over 100 games that are free of ads and in-app purchases. It's an amazingly rare experience in mobile gaming these days. The service is either $5 a month or $50 a year, but you get a one-month free trial.

The service includes games from some of the biggest publishers, like Capcom, Square Enix, Konami, and The Lego Group. But it’s worth noting that the frequency of new games being added to the service has slowed considerably in 2020, averaging less than one new game a week. The games cover a pretty wide selection of genres with RPGs like Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm, sports titles like What the Golf? and Ballistic Baseball, adventure games like Tangle Tower, and a whole host of more bite-size games, like Mini Motorways and Crossy Road Castles.

Given the number of games already  in Apple Arcade, it is still unquestionably worth the subscription for many users. Still, it’s one to monitor because unless you have games that keep coming back, you may end up playing your way through the whole catalog.

Apple Arcade games are playable on iPads, iPhones, iPod Touches, Macs, and Apple TVs and support for a controller is available for those who want that console feel.

(Image credit: Google)

Google Play Pass

Best game subscription service for Android users

Price: $5 per month | Platforms: Android

Google Play Pass is Google’s gaming subscription service for Android users and it matches Apple Arcade’s pricing at $5 a month. However, Google Play Pass has a much deeper library of games with some apps thrown into the mix as well; There are more than 350 apps and games in total.

The apps and games feature no ads or in-app purchases and can be used on any device that runs Android apps, which includes many Chromebooks sold in recent years. What Google Play Pass lacks is the volume of exclusives that Apple Arcade has. That said, there are some games premiering on Play Pass, like LevelHead, from my favorite developer name, Butterscotch Shenanigans.  

And again, there’s a wide range of genres here with RPGs like Stardew Valley and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, simple arcade titles like Smashy Road: Wanted, deeper experiences like This War of Mine, puzzle games like the Monument Valley series, and then a range of other apps that cover productivity, weather, photo editors and more.

(Image credit: Humble)

Humble Choice

Best game subscription service if you want to own your games

Price: $15 to $20 per month | Platforms: PCs

This one is a little different from the other services that I examined, but I wanted to include it for those who want to own their games. Humble Choice allows you to keep every game that you download while subscribed to the service. It is a PC-only service that relies on Steam for downloads. And while there is a $5 tier, it is locked to a set of around 100 games, whereas the $15 and $20 a month plans give you your choice of either three or nine games from a new pool of 10-15 games each month.

Your Humble Choice subscription also contributes to charity, 5% of your subscription each month goes to a new featured charity.

You should look at some of the past Humble Choice game lists to make sure it has enough options to make it worth your while.  Some of the games available in April 2020 included Hitman 2, Gris, This is the Police 2, Opus Magnum, Molek-Syntez, Raiden V: Director’s Cut, Driftland: The Magical Revival, Turok 2: Seeds of Evil, Truberbrook, The Bard’s Tale IV: Director’s Cut and Shoppe Keep 2. 

It’s a pretty eclectic grouping, which should make it easy to find three games that you’ll appreciate. It's a great deal at $5 apiece, especially if you have a wide range of gaming interests. The 9 games for $20 a month option is going to be a steal even if you only play half of those games within each month.