XBOX Live Gold vs. PSN Plus (comparison)

So you’re a gamer that can only have one “premium” gaming service active at any given time, and you want to know which has the most “BANG” for your buck, right?  Fear not my intrepid readers, I’m going to break down the pros and cons of each service so you can decide for yourselves which to get.  Obviously the preferred choice is to get both, but not everyone has the resources for that, so which should you leave as the standard free service, and which should you go ahead and upgrade?

Differences in the Free Versions:

Before we talk about the premium services each company offers, we need to talk about the baseline free services.  With XBOX Live Silver, you are able to keep a list of your friends, share achievements, send messages, and download content from the Marketplace.  Note that there is no online play, and services like Netflix and Hulu Plus aren’t available.  With the basic level of the Playstation Network you also get your friend list, trophies, access to store content and messages, but you also get access to the apps like Netflix and Hulu Plus and you get online play included.  Now that we know the benefits of the basic services, which provider is better behind the pay wall?

Online Play:

Even though the basic PSN gives you the ability to play online for free, it still needs to be talked about here.  One of the reasons is for cross game chat – Live Gold has offered this for an extremely long time, and while it has been promised and promised by Sony to “be coming soon” since PSN Plus started, they have yet to actually deliver it.  It isn’t a big deal to a lot of people to be sure, but I would love to be able to talk to friends playing different games on the PSN, and as a reviewer I utilize this to talk to other journalists on the 360 all the time.  It is one of the reasons I actually use my 360 more than my PS3.  Really, the pay service of PSN offers no discernible benefits yet to online play at this time.  At E3 this year, Sony promised more revamps to the PSN service such as faster queuing for Plus members and access to Plus member only game lobbies in certain titles, but as of yet that hasn’t come to fruition.  The benefits of Live Gold though are that you can play online any time you want, where as with the free service there you can only play online during designated free weekends.

Winner: XBOX Live Gold because you actually get a benefit here if you pay for it

User Interface:

While the interface might not change between either free or pay service, you can not talk about both providers without mentioning the UI.  Before the latest XBOX dashboard update I would have probably thought it was the better UI – doubly so if you went back two dashboard updates, but as it stands the current UI is not intelligent at all.  Microsoft spent so much time with Kinect integration that they forgot about those of us that really don’t like the Kinect.  And even in there, yes it might work most of the time, but there are still a number of occasions where the Kinect just flat out fails.  The PS3 interface though isn’t without it’s flaws either.  On the 360, when an achievement pops just one touch of the guide button lets you know what you did, on the PS3 though you need to hit the Home button, move to the trophy information, wait for all your trophies to load, go to the game your playing, and then look for the trophy in a list.  Definitely not the best way to handle things there.  On the store front side of things though, the PSN is hands down the winner because the store is set up in a much more intuitive manner – you’re not blindly searching for things there.

Winner: PSN Plus – even though there is no difference between paying or not, the natural PSN features edge out the XBOX features slightly

Titles for Download:

One of the things that most everyone uses Live or the PSN for is the ability to download new titles – whether full games or just demos – on the fly to add to their libraries.  Fortunately both systems have basically the same titles available, with the exception of a few exclusive titles.  With the XBOX, there isn’t any difference between what Gold and Silver users get, but Silver users do have to wait a week longer to get the things Gold users do.  You can also see this same business model in place for some titles on the PSN.  Journey, one of the biggest releases on the PSN when it came out was available a whole two weeks earlier to PSN Plus members than basic members.  There have been numerous times when being a Plus member entitled you to join a Beta (Uncharted 3, Battlefield 3) as well.  While Call of Duty items go over to the 360 before hitting the PS3, unless that is all you play (and I know there are a lot of you out there that fit that bill), that might not be enough to convince someone to spend their money on the Gold treatment.

Winner: Tie – both services have exclusives and both services get some content to paying members first

Price:

Since the initial argument is that you only have money for ONE of these two services, cost should be a consideration as well.  Sony charges you $49.99 for a year of access to PSN Plus, and Microsoft asks you to fork over $59.99 of your hard earned scrilla.  These raw numbers might make you instantly say PSN Plus is better, but not so fast there bucko.  While PSN Plus is cheaper on paper, in practice things can change.  While Sony has yet to offer any discounts, you can almost always find a retailer out there selling a year of Live Gold for less.  This past Christmas I bought three Live Gold subscriptions for $30 a piece and gave them as gifts.  Until Sony figures out how to make some deals with retailers like Microsoft has, Live Gold wins out here.

Winner: Live Gold as you never have to pay full retail if you do some searching

Discounts:

Both services offer discounts to their paying members, but are any of those discounts worth writing home about?  For starters, Microsoft always has weekly specials for their Gold members, amounting to 50% off of certain titles.  They also have “Summer of This” or “Season of That” specials that reward you for buying multiple featured games.  With PSN Plus though, Sony takes it a step farther.  Members of the Plus service get all sorts of discounts on games (generally more games than Gold members as well), but they also get to download free games each month.  Now prior to E3, the games weren’t the greatest – but now?  Last month we got to download 13 fully functional games, including a number of full retail titles.  This month is a bit smaller, but still good titles all around.  As long as Sony keeps this pace up, every Plus member will need to buy a 1TB hard drive to store things.

Winner:  PSN Plus because of all of the free games

Other Benefits:

Jumping through the pay wall from Silver to Gold opens up pretty much everything to you.  Online play, NetFlix, Hulu Plus, and everything else (though you need subscriptions to some of those services naturally) are yours for the playing.  With PSN Plus things are a little different.  Since all of that is available for free on the PS3, they had to come up with some other benefits to lure people in.  Cloud save space is one big one – no longer do you have to worry about how to get your saves to a friends house (or to other PS3s in your house) – just send it to the cloud and download it where you want it.  This works out great if you are using a Vita game that supports cross platform play.  Another big benefit that comes with PSN Plus is automatic downloading.  When that is on, you don’t need to worry about updating any game or firmware, as all of that will download and install automatically.

Winner: PSN Plus has more interesting benefits

Overall Winner:

While in a perfect world, a gamer would have both of the services and enjoy all of the benefits therein, not everyone can afford the extra expense.  While it really comes down to personal preference, in my opinion subscribing to PSN Plus is a much better option.  My library has grown exponentially, and now I can play a bunch of things that I initially passed on when review copies came around (like Infamous 2).  If I was a huge Call of Duty player maybe some of my opinions would change, but as it stands, my vote is definitely on spending the cash on PSN Plus.

 

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57 Comments

  1. I just recently got an xbox 360 after having a PS3 for over 2 years and i can honestly say that with both systems side by side, the PS3 is clearly the winner hands down in every category. The new windows 8 tile type interface might be good for a touch pc or tablet, but they simply get in the way on a gaming system. The PS3 single line layout is far superior, even if you have to scroll for a minute to find the exact feature your looking for. At least it doesnt confuse you with a ton of bullshit windows like the Xbox.

    Second, On the Xbox 360 you have to have a gold membership for every single little thing you attempt to do. You cant even use services you already pay for, like Netflix and hulo without having a xbox live paid membership (NOTHING works with the free membership) which i think is totally absurd and is surely against the law… Well.. if it isnt.. it should be.

    The PS3 gives you free access to other apps such as youtube and internet browser as well, while on the Xbox 360 you have to have a gold membership to use these also which is just flat out stupid.

    Microsoft just needs to understand that most people expect a lot from something they are paying a few hundred dollars for now days and with free services such as youtube popping up on every TV… they should at least allow that to work without having to pay an extra fee every month.

    The PS3 clearly delivers with free internet, free access to youtube as well as free apps for netflix and hulu (if you have a subscription to those services) without having to pay an additional fee just to access something you already pay for.

    One last thing… PSN has some really good games if you have the Playstaion Plus membership. It adds up to about 5$ a month (4 less than Xbox) and deliveres free game for not only the PS3, but the Vita and PSP as well (if you happen to have those systems… as well as free movies via crackle. =)

    Just thought i would post this so that everyone gets the honest comparison from an actual user of both systems. Sometimes i just dont feel like paying for the membership to PS Plus… and they dont penalzie my system down to a freaking toaster with a CD drive for it.. i can still use it to watch movies, youtube and other things when i want.. for FREE… btw.. for those of you are online gamers.. they DO NOT CHARGE FOR in game chat and have a TON of free games in a place called PS Home…I guess it would be like a party maybe on Xbox 360.. i dont know as i havent tried that yet.. But hell.. at least on the PS3 its freaking FREE!!! See ya at the bowling alley =) thats where i hang out heh.

  2. This whole article is BS.. The Xbox also has Cloud storage. I have both systems and the PS Vita and I have to say that when it comes to multimedia the Xbox has the PS3 beat. The Netflix and Hulu app are way better on Xbox live than on PS3, you can have movie parties (get online and watch the same movie online with friends). The UI is (in my opinion) much nicer on the XBOX as I never really liked the PSP UI that’s on the PS3. Simply put you get much better quality of service over Xbox live than you get with PSN paid or free. To be honest it doesn’t seem that Sony had online play in mind when they made the console. Xbox however was already tried and tested with the first Xbox (which I also had). Currently the PS vita online features are still skimp compared to the Xbox features, although i’m not sure if that’s a fair comparison. We have to wait till the next consoles come out. One more thing as a Computer Science major I have to say that while on paper the PS3 is more graphically powerful than the XBOX the whole idea that the graphics are better in real life is nothing but a myth.

  3. Having to say I own both PS3 and XBOX, XBOX live kills PSN hands down. I would say its well worth th $60 a year and would pay more if came to it. Just think about it, with XBOX live not only do I get to chat and play games with my online friends “NO MATTER WHAT THEIR PLAYING”, I also can use my XBOX as a Xfinity HD reciever saving me $16 monthly $192 yearly on my comcast bill. Netflix,Hulu Plus,You Tube and Enternet explorer work 120x better compared to my experience on PSN, in the end PSN is free for a reason because no one would dare pay for that half assed service. The only thing I really like on the PS3 is the bluray player and Metal Gear Solid 4 thats about it. Don’t hate on me I’m just giving credit where credit is due.

  4. Having both systems, I have to give the nod to XBL. People can complain about having to pay for Gold to access Netflix and Hulu, but if you have an Xbox, then you bought it to play games on. If you say otherwise, you are either a liar or an idiot. Then again, there are plenty of both in the world today.

    The essential portion of this article that is missing has to do with competitive gaming. Xbox Live is FAR more competitive than PS3. It is the sole reason why I pay for XBL. Most people who have experience playing extensively on both consoles would probably agree.

  5. The bread and butter of XBL (more stable, less lag, more players, more robust, better UI) makes XBL better than PSN. PS+ does give more bang for the buck and MSFT needs to offer more free stuff to compete, but the only reason PSN can hang with XBL is because it’s free. Take that away and this isn’t even a competition.

  6. the overall comparison is bad. Just because PSN got 1 more point than xbox live, you dont take into account that the “other benefits” and “discounts” doesnt even come close to how important online gaming and chatting is when playing. Id sacrifice all the benefits of PSN is i could just freaking have party chat. and the user interface on PSN sucks. You stated how hard it is to check achievements, you left out how crappy the friend to friend interaction is, and how annoying it is to set up everything else. XBOX live KILLS psn, ask anyone who has, and has used both regularly (like myself).

    Great article otherwise though, i just dont agree with your preferences, haha. the internet needs more articles like this.

  7. ps3 downloads do take a long time, it took me nearly an hour to download two worlds II, and the updates are stupid. If i put a game in Xbox the update would take 1 minute max (thats if it never had any previous update), but on ps3, i actually had to leave it and do other things whilst it was downloading. it isn’t the internet as i can download things on my laptop really quick, i can download games on my Xbox in a 1/3 of the time and i have always got a full signal. It is same with lovefilm, on xbox i can browse without lag, and if i watch a HD film, it only stops now and then which can be stopped if i pause it for a minute, on PS3 i cannot watch a 20 minute episode of IT Crowd without lag.

    I am not a Xbox fanboy, i do enjoy different consoles, but I find using the Xbox a lot more pleasant and smoother. i still love the ps3, and i do use it a lot (DC universe, Infamous, Little big planet etc) but there are flaws which i think could be easily fixed.

    p.s No update should be nearly 1gb, that is just stupid (silly ps3 with there memory eating updates)

  8. Great article. You brought up many valid points. Xbox LIVE is not the service it used to be. The dashboard is bogged down with too many ads, and yet we still have to pay $60 a year for this “service”. Do you know how much money Microsoft is making with those ads? And yet LIVE goes up ten bucks, even during this economy. I cancelled my gold LIVE subscription, and switched to PSN. I have noticed no difference with online play. Killzone 3 and COD run great. It’s nice having access to all the games on Plus as well. I now have over 20 games waiting for me on my hdd. Download speeds are the same, but this was only after I switched to a wired connection for my PS3. WIFI was not working too well for some reason.

    1. when did Xbox Live go up ten bucks?? It’s always been $60 since the first XBOX.. As far as I know it’s still $60 buddy you’re getting ripped off.

  9. M$ requiring users to pay for Gold membership to access pay services like Netflix and Hulu Plus is dirty and underhanded. They’re using these popular services to sweeten the pot of their Gold membership. With that logic, automobile manufacturers could require that you pay an extra fee when you drive to the gym.

  10. There’s many people modding on Xbox. Not to mention jerks and hackers. PS3 would be the best if it had party chat and the messages/trophies were more accessible. I really enjoy its clean layout. Things that go in a certain category are there. At the moment I play both gaming consoles but the Xbox is more common and I like talking to my friends. Very tough decisions!

    1. I’m a computer science major and it’s harder to hack the Xbox than the PS3.. point in case, how many times did PSN get hacked.. oh yeah. If you mod your XBOX as soon as you log on to Xbox live you have a high probability of having (not your account) but your console banned. The only thing easier to do on Xbox than on PS3 is editing save files.. which is hardly “modding” though some people claim it is. On most online competitive games this isn’t even an issue as your stats are recorded on a server and not on your console. You must be one of those that cry’s “aim bot!” when you lose in a shooter game. Admit it some people just have better aim than you. I know I’ve been playing shooters since Counter Strike for the First XBOX.

  11. Yeah, very biased moron article once again. I’ll stick with Xbox Live Gold and not the more expensive rental service called PSN-. Too bad all you fanboys fall for Sony’s BS time and time again.

  12. first this guy need to understand what is Gold for and what is PSN + understand this and then compare… PSn + is for content & Gold is for Online play + entertainment. Who allow this brainless child to make an article like this!!!???

  13. This article is comparing two diffrent things and you have also missed some key things …

    First of all PlayStation+ is a content package delievered trough PlayStation Network
    Xbox Live & PlayStation Network is
    is an online multiplayer gaming and digital media delivery service.

    This services can’t be compared to each other in the way you are comparing them. You should have built two comparision tables.

    PSN vs Xbox Live

    Online Play: Majority of people think Xbox Live is a more stable service and this can vary between games and publishers.

    User interface: You are comparing X360 and PS3 interface, this is a comparision between the services so you should think about cross all of there applications. All apps on Live follows Microsoft guidelines how a application should look and behave. PSN has more open guidelines and its more open for developers to build their apps how they want them look and behave. Should be a tie because is matter of choice.

    Exclusive downloadable content: Both services deliver early DLC and exclusive titles on there services. A few years back this would have been won by Microsoft but in the last years Sony has succeed deliver both first, second and third party exclusivity. If would look on just the last year and the promised content for the coming months I would say this a close win for Sony but because of history I would still tie this because on the tipping point.

    Games: Sony has more first party developers than Nintendo and Microsoft together. We see a huge variety of exclusives from both first and second party Sony studious. Microsoft succeeds to push one or two core titles per year. I would say this a clear win for Sony.

    Digital Media: I would say the both services deliver the almost the same content trough both services. Micosoft has done a better work than Sony for the last year in US added some new services. But we still see them do a poor job in other territories, I would say this is a tie.

    Price / value: PSN is freea clear win for Sony.

    PlayStation Network is overall a better service both companies pushes almost the same content trough there service. Sony wins from a richer first and second party lineup and because there service is free.

    PSN & PS+ vs Xbox Live

    Games: You get 45 free games per year from EU PS+ and zero games from a Xbox Live a clear win for Sony.

    Discounts: PS+ offers you additional discounts, Xbox Live doesn’t both Silver and Gold users pay the same amount for content for the store. Clear win for Sony.

    Exclusive content: PlayStation+ users gets early get earlly access and exclusives betas delivered trough the service. So a clear win for Sony.

    Features: Both services deliver the same kind of features like cloud storage. I would say PlayStation+ wins just because delivers automatic updates and installation of your content and full game trials trough PS Store.

    Price / value: You can find discounted Xbox Live subscription but you don’t get any content delivered trough the service. So I would say a clear win for Sony.

    Overall a clear win for Sony the amount of content you get per year is amazing. According to Sony PS+ users got over $1200 worth of value in 2011 and they will increase the value in 2012. So if you can’t find at least $50 of content I would say its some thing wrong with you.
    The service works well for both casual and hardcore and I would say the biggest selling point for PlayStation+ is one which you can’t read anywhere.
    Every night friends gather together trough PlayStation Network to play different games. Every night you end up playing the same game because its too hard to convince everyone to but the latest and greatest. So the biggest selling point is that, everyone gets the same games. You know that everyone on your friendslist who has PlayStation Plus has the same content so its a lot smaller threshold to try somethings new.

    Make your research and present it better.

    “Was games a tie ??? when you get 45 games for free trough PS+”

  14. While this is an comparison between both services and not between PS3 and Xbox360, you are completely wrong concerning Cross Game Chat. PSN does support this feature since PSVita is out and with PSVita you can do Cross Game Chat absolutely free of charge.

  15. Decent article. Wrong about Cross Game Chat though – Sony admitted a while ago that they can’t do it due to RAM limitiations, so it’s not happening.

  16. You haven’t mentioned Skype or video Kinect? or FB and twitter apps? third party gaming media on the Xbox? or indie games? or the exclusive arcade titles? it’s either a biased review or a very lazy one.

    1. The article also ignores Cloud saves on XBL Gold. My understanding is that Microsoft gives you 512 MB – considerably more than the 150 MB you get on PSN Plus.

    2. Do you even use Skype, or Twitter, on Xbox or on your computer?Seems like a waste of space. Facebook is on PlayStation. Indie games are on PSN, exclusive arcade titles are on PSN, third party gaming media such as what? Please elaborate on why this review is biased and/or lazy.

      1. I have never loaded Skype, FB, or Twitter on a console – there’s just no reason if you have a computer. And as for Kinect, it’s a broken piece of hardware that only works AT BEST 50% of the time. While I might have missed a few things people thought I should have hit on, I don’t consider those few apps valid.

  17. While I wont say they’re free, the sheer volume of games I’ve been given whilst subscribing to PSN+ means that I could easily go the rest of the year without buying another game and still have plenty to play. The discounts on other PSN games a numerous and substantial too. Well worth the price of subscription.

    1. Cloud saving and discounts are free on steam! I love steam!
      Got LA Noire for $7.50 & that’s better than gamestop, xbl or psn!!
      Plus the 50,000 free portal 2 puzzles and 85,000+ skyrim mods and other games on steam workshop! <3

  18. The sucky thing about xbox live is that you have to pay to access the other half of the game :/. While on ps3 you can do the same thing without any extra cost.

      1. No. PSN is much slower than XBL.
        It took me nearly 5 hours just to get the Uncharted 2 Motion comics whereas I was able to get Halo Reach, nearly 7GB, in just 50 minutes.

        1. Your connection is bad. If you bought the Uncharted 2: GOTY edition and got the motion comics it shouldn’t have taken that long. Mine downloaded is about 35 minutes.

          1. I doubt it’s my connection when my Xbox has always downloaded at a steady rate and never takes longer than an hour for anything
            Even my Wii was pretty good at downloading back when I actually used it.
            The PS3 is the only one that always has unbearably slow download speeds/times on a constant basis.

            @google-abac9a4b59db913558cee6f2b2428167:disqus

            If you think I’m lying, that’s on you. But I’m not as I have no reason to.
            Whether you believe me or not, it happened, it happens, and it probably will continue to happen.

        2. hahah i just downloaded 4 full games in 1 hour. the PSN is not slow its all to do with you’re internet if its fast you wont be slow .i use to play on 4 MB and i had no lag no slow download now i have 73MB and wow games just download so fast

          1. I am assuming that you have no common sense, because you have no idea what your talking about, Internet speed is rated in Mb/s, which means MEGA BITS PER SECOND, as in 1/8 of a megabyte per second, basically if your connection is 73 Mb/s as you say than you should be downloading at 9 and 1/8 megabytes per second, Theoretically since you can never get that.

      2. Anyone’s download that takes that long is lying through their teeth or don’t have a PS3. My downloads don’t take that long.

    1. That was actually a funny comment (I’m not being sarcastic), but I just downloaded a retail game (4GB) in 20 minutes.

      And I’m just using Comcast internet. That said, my PS3 was VERY slow on my last router. I think it’s just the way it talks with certain routers – with this one, I’ve been getting some fantastic results.

  19. you didn’t even talk about playstation home, which IMO is amazing compared to the laughable avatar system on 360.. there are some good free games and its just fun to mess around in PSN home.

    PSN+ is the clear winner, its only issue is online service is much slower. the cross game chat thing is almost gurenteed for next gen though, with that PS will be the clear gen winner unless microsoft turns their shit around

    1. I didn’t even think about Home or the Avatars as I pay little attention to either. I will agree though that out of the two of them Home is a far better system

    2. Well, you say that cross-game chat is guaranteed for next generation consoles, but what about the likelihood that those might not come from Sony until 2014? Nintendo’s is out now and Microsoft’s is expected in 2013, so if they DO take until 2014, is it really sensible to try to use a feature 2 years off as a selling point in your argument?
      THIS generation will see the addition of Xbox SmartGlass, which will be a pretty cool feature, much cooler than cross-game chat, which I can’t even explain how it doesn’t exist on PSN.

  20. Good overall article but the on part i disagree on is the price. ”
    This past Christmas I bought three Live Gold subscriptions for $30 a piece and gave them as gifts.” that’s nice but i am not going to wait till Christmas to buy a membership. Its a god marketing ploy by microsoft because it helps out the sales during holiday seasons. Problem is on a non holiday event its hard to find these type of discounts. Now in the price i would still give xbox 360 the edge but not by much its much easier to just grab your live online from home with a credit card in my opinion and with the initial cheaper price of psn for me that works better. Slight edge to 360/tie in “my opinion”.

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