E310: Death Match: PlayStation Plus x Xbox Live Gold

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Since the PS3’s launch in 2006, Sony has touted the value of the third generation console’s bevy of free features compared to that of Microsoft’s Xbox Live Gold subscription membership. Well, that doesn’t matter anymore now that Sony has their own paid subscription model that is set to roll out on June 29.

Here’s how PlayStation Plus breaks down compared to Xbox Live Gold.

Price
PlayStation Plus: $17.99/90 days, $50/365 days.
Xbox Live Gold: $8/1 month, $20/3 months, $50/12 months

Early adopters who sign up for 12 months of PlayStation Plus will receive an additional 3 months of free service.

Winner: PlayStation

Special Content
PlayStation Plus members will be privy to exclusives that include full game trials that rotate every month for a set period of time before given the option to purchase. PS+ members will also have access to full versions of handpicked PS3 titles, PS one Classics and minis for as long as their membership remains in effect. Avatars and custom themes will be made exclusive for PS+ members. Early access will be given for beta trials, demos and video content before they’re released to the public.

Both Silver and Gold Xbox Live members have been able to download trailers and demos but Gold members typically get early access to certain content, which is then released to Silver members shortly after. Avatar packs and custom themes come at a price for XBL members despite their status.

Winner: PlayStation

Discounts
Sony plans to offer PS+ members discounts on the PSN Store including free games and DLC. On top of that, you’ll be privy to one PSN game a month.

Microsoft has been offering weekly deals for Gold members on XBLA titles, Originals and DLC for quite some time.

Winner: PlayStation

Multiplayer
Only XBL Gold members have been able to frag their friends online but PlayStation 3 owners have been able to jump online and play with friends since day one for free. PlayStation Plus does not appear to change this.

Winner: PlayStation

Social Networks/Netflix
Only Xbox Live Gold members have access to Netflix, Twitter, Facebook and last.fm. All PlayStation 3 owners have had access to Netflix for free since it debuted earlier this year, as well as Facebook. PS+ does not change any of this.

Winner: PlayStation

Firmware
One key differentiator for Sony in the paid subscription battle is the ability to automatically push patches, console updates and game demos to your PS3. Microsoft currently does not offer such a service for either XBL membership.

Winner: PlayStation

Miscellany
ESPN content will be available to certain Xbox Live Gold members depending on their ISP. Because the service is pulling content from ESPN3.com, your ISP must be an affiliated service provider. Check here to find out.

Sony does not offer such services but they do offer HBO programming.

Winner: Draw

Well, it’s pretty clear who the winner is when it comes to paid subscription models. Sony’s robust offering compared to Microsoft’s XBL Gold membership is baffling. Well played, Sony. Your move, Microsoft.

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