Ford vs. Chevy. Pepsi vs. Coke. Xbox vs. PlayStation. Each of these rivalries include two products that are similar in every aspect, yet you have to pick a side. At some point it comes down to personal preference, but it's hard not to compare the two. Surely, one of these must have an advantage over the other.
Such is the case with PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold. These subscription services for Sony's PlayStation consoles and Microsoft's Xbox platform are identical in nearly every way. Both allow gamers to play games online with their friends. Both give away free games every month. Both score consumers discounts in their respective virtual marketplaces. Both cost a yearly fee. Heck, even their websites look nearly the same.
So naturally we have to ask...which is better? Let's break it down.
Xbox Live Gold: A 12 month Xbox Live Gold Subscription will set you back $59.99, with a three month membership retailing for $24.99. You can snag a one month membership for $9.99.
PlayStation Plus: Sony's online service is a tad cheaper when it comes to a 12 month or three month subscription. A year membership retails for $49.99, with a three month membership retailing for $17.99. Like Xbox, you can also buy a one month membership for $9.99.
Verdict: Microsoft's Xbox Live service has long been the gold standard when it comes to online functionality on consoles. Presumably, that's why Xbox Live Gold costs more than its PlayStation counterpart. That being said, we still have to give this one up to PlayStation Plus. A full $10 cheaper is nothing to scoff at.
Advantage: PlayStation Plus
Xbox Live Gold: Every month Xbox gamers receive a batch of free titles. If you own a Xbox 360, you get two games, one for each half of the month. Xbox One gamers receive two free games, though one of the games is usually a carry-over from the previous month. That's a total of four free titles if you own both Xbox consoles. Not too shabby.
PlayStation Plus: Six free games. That's how many free titles you'll receive every month if you own each of Sony's gaming consoles: two for the PS3, two for the PS4 and two for PlayStation Vita. Many of these titles are usually available on multiple platforms as well, so even if you don't have a Vita, chances are you can still pick up one of the free Vita games for your PS3 or PS4. Solid.
Verdict: Xbox's more recent program simply can't compete with PlayStation's free game offerings. Not only does Sony give away more games, but they are often newer or brand spanking new titles, including a wide variety of stellar indie titles. Games With Gold is improving, but it's not on PlayStation's level just yet. Advantage: PlayStation Plus
Xbox Live Gold: Every week a batch of various games on Xbox 360 and Xbox One will receive discounts only for Xbox Live Gold subscribers. The discounts can vary wildly, from 30 percent all the way up to 75, and on all kinds of games, from indie titles to AAA blockbusters. Sales for non-Gold members occur as well, but the best discounts are reserved for subscribers.
PlayStation Plus: Like Xbox Live, games regularly go on sale over in the PlayStation store. These sales are open to all PlayStation users, but if you happen to be a PlayStation Plus subscriber you'll snag an even deeper discount. Such was the case during PlayStation's holiday sale, where PlayStation Plus subscribers scored an extra 10 percent off already discounted titles.
Verdict: Here the two services are evenly matched. Both offer exclusive deals for subscribers in addition to regular sales and discounts. No matter which service you choose, you'll find a steady stream of slashed game prices all screaming for your attention.
Xbox Live Gold: Being a gold member allows Xbox users to download demos and participate in early beta programs before non-subscribers. Users also have a wealth of other online services like cloud storage, game DVR and party chat functionality.
PlayStation Plus: Sony's service is much the same. Subscribers get exclusive access to beta programs, as well as allowing for cloud saves. One big distinguishing feature that PlayStation has that Xbox lacks is exclusive television programming. The PlayStation original series Powers starring Sharlto Copley and based on the graphic novel of the same name is proving to be a major selling point for subscribers.
Verdict: Both services are nearly identical here, except PlayStation has a well-received television show. After Microsoft decided to gut Xbox's own plans for exclusive television programming, this category goes to Sony.
Advantage: PlayStation Plus
Taken by each category alone, it's clear that PlayStation Plus comes out on top. It's cheaper, offers exclusive programming and also includes nearly every feature or perk that comes with a Xbox Live Gold subscription. This is by no means a scientific study, however. It's hard to gauge the stability of each platform or which might function better day to day.
Each platform buckled under the weight of DDOS attack and hackers during the holiday season, though the PSN hack of 2011 (in which hackers stole the personal data of thousands of customers) still remains as a serious red mark against PSN more than four years later. At the end of the day, no matter what platform you are playing on or service you are using, you are going to be getting a stellar gaming experience, complete with free games and discounts. What's not to love about that?