Best Gaming Subscriptions: What They Are, How They Work, and Why You Should Get Them


Gaming is here to stay. That might seem like an obvious statement, but nothing is obvious until you see the statistics. In a report compiled by the Entertainment Software Association and Circana, a consumer behaviors and trends analyst, US gaming consumers spent over $57b on gaming in one year. Admittedly, the figure is based on everything a gamer needs – downloadable content, subscriptions, hardware, software, and all the peripherals.

Free Giveaways

The report revealed a marked increase in digital gaming-based spending across the board, proving that players are moving away from physical software and into subscription-based play at an unstoppable rate of knots. Gaming subscriptions are hot news and competitive; there’s much to choose from, so many of these companies offer free bonus games to encourage signing up.

Prime Gaming offers free games, as does PlayStation Plus Essential; this try-before-you-buy option is just another way to ensure the content is right before you sign up. As well as ensuring you like the game before purchasing, they also offer add-ons and bonuses. These can come in the form of new levels on platform games, free spins in online casinos games, or new skins for your favorite playable characters. This form of marketing has been around in the online casino space for some time, and it’s an area where the gaming world can certainly learn a thing or two.
So, what are the best gaming subscriptions? Going by revenue alone, then it’s the Xbox Game Pass, followed closely by PlayStation Plus Premium. However, these top providers may have to fight for supremacy in the coming months or years as Prime Gaming and even Netflix adds a gaming subscription to their long list of associated products.

Should content subscriptions be the way of the future for gaming, then cloud gaming subscriptions will be the way of that future as well, since they often don’t require any specialist gear and can be used on everything from an inexpensive Chromebook to an iPad. We’ve included both download and cloud-based subscription options in this round-up.

Xbox Game Pass at its Core

The Xbox Game Pass provides access to over 100 games for a monthly fee. Xbox Game Pass is actually called Xbox Game Pass Core and replaces the old Xbox Gold membership. Core provides online multiplayer console functions, with 25 free games you can download and play. Xbox Game Pass Core, according to, is the highest-grossing gaming subscription and membership provider.

With Core, players get all the new releases from Microsoft Studios and EA Play first, and cloud gaming is standard, which means the Xbox Game Pass is a must for streamers everywhere.

About PlayStation Plus Essential

PlayStation has dominated the gaming market since 1994, releasing its most basic subscription service in 2010. Since then, PlayStation has been through many transitions, including PS Now transitioning into PlayStation Plus in 2022. PlayStation Plus changed again in 2023 to offer a three-tier subscription service. PlayStation Essential, Extra, and Premium.

PS Essential unlocks PlayStation’s online features, which are online friend play, cloud saves, and discounts on the PS Store, along with providing up to three free games a month. PS Extra has all the PS Essential features, plus provides access to hundreds of PS4 and PS5 games. PS Premium allows older consoles to enjoy all the features of PS Essentials and Extra.

EA Play

EA is one of the biggest video game publishers around, with Dead Space, Dragon Age, and licensed sports games in its library. Unlimited access to EA games on PCs and consoles is provided with an EA Play subscription, which also includes Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. Some games are even playable by subscribers ahead of their official release dates.

It’s even accessible as a Steam version. Unfortunately, though, in order to play EA Play on any platform, you must have a separate subscription, which makes no sense at all. The only drawbacks are that it’s from EA, which can turn off some people right away, and that the Xbox One app’s UI is dreadful and unresponsive. You may typically download a free trial of a new EA game if you’re not sure about it. However, this strategy has backfired for EA numerous times in the past.

You have to be in it to play it!

In all its guises, Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Plus Essentials might be the top performers right now, but give it six months to a year, and the table may have changed significantly. Amazon is investing heavily in Prime gaming, as is Netflix, which has, up until now, been slow off the mark. Apple Arcade could be a winner (probably not), and a Humble choice might shake things up a bit, but who really knows – only time will tell.


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