The Best Video Game Subscription Services – PCMag

The Best Video Game Subscription Services – PCMag

Nintendo Switch Online, PlayStation Plus, and Xbox Game Pass aren't the only gaming-focused subscription services. Explore our top recommendations that give you endless access to awesome games for low monthly fees.
In 2013, I started my Ziff Davis career as an intern on PCMag’s Software team. Now, I’m an Analyst on the Apps and Gaming team, and I really just want to use my fancy Northwestern University journalism degree to write about video games. I host The Pop-Off, PCMag‘s video game show. I was previously the Senior Editor for Geek.com. I’ve also written for The A.V. Club, Kotaku, and Paste Magazine. I’m currently working on a book about the history of video games, and I’m the reason everything you think you know about Street Sharks is a lie.
When you want to play a new video game, you either cough up $60 (or $70) for a major release, buy something cheaper because it’s smaller or on sale, or dive into a free-to-play title that tries to get your money after downloading it. However, what if you want to play many games on a regular basis without outright purchasing titles that you aren’t sure you’ll like? That’s where video game subscription services come in.
If you’ve ever used Hulu, Netflix, or one of countless other video streaming services, you understand the general concept. For a monthly fee, gaming subscription services let you play whatever you want from their catalogs without limits. Video games pose their own technical challenges that streaming video doesn’t have to deal with, but typically this works by letting you download games digitally and then revoking your access if your membership lapses.
An increasing number of publishers offer subscriptions as a new way to get ongoing revenue from loyal customers. All three major consoles offer subscriptions that even grant access to exciting first-party games. However, video game subscription services don’t always have the biggest libraries, and the games come and go over time. Plus, you have even less ownership over your games. If you want to purchase digital games instead of virtually renting them, opt for a video game marketplace like Epic Games Store or Steam.
Back in the day, renting games let you sample all sorts of cool titles without going broke. Video game subscription services carry on that legacy. With that in mind, here are the best video game subscription services we’ve tested.
If there’s one service on this list that truly earns the title of “Netflix for video games,” it’s Xbox Game Pass (starting at $9.99 per month). Microsoft’s subscription lets you play dozens of exciting games on Xbox and PC, including major first-party releases like Forza Horizon and Halo on their launch days. With cloud streaming (available via the $14.99-per-month Xbox Game Pass Ultimate tier), you can play your favorite Xbox titles on a phone.
Navigating the various tiers for the revamped PlayStation Plus (starting at $9.99 per month) can be a little tricky. However, you can play new PlayStation games every month no matter what plan you choose. Higher tiers increase the number of available games, open retro libraries (PS2, PSP), and let you cloud stream games to a PlayStation console or PC. 
Nintendo has never been known for its robust online services. That said, alongside online multiplayer and cloud saves, a Nintendo Switch Online membership (starting at $3.99 per month) lets you enjoy an exciting library of NES and SNES games. When it comes to old-school gaming, this is the cream of the crop. The expansion pack also throws in Sega Genesis and Nintendo 64 games.
Despite all the exploitative free-to-play trash, the mobile app marketplace still has the potential to be a great and thriving video game platform. An Apple Arcade subscription (starting at $4.99 per month) will remind you of how many truly great games you can play on your phone, with ambitious creative titles from well-known developers and indie darlings. Plus, the games lack microtransactions!
EA is one of the biggest video game publishers around, with Dead Space, Dragon Age, and licensed sports games in its library. An EA Play subscription (starting at $4.99 per month) includes unlimited access to EA games on consoles or PC, and it comes included with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. Subscribers can even play some games before their official release dates.
For a different type of mobile game subscription, consider GameClub (starting at $4.99 per month). This service rescues retro mobile games, titles that were beloved during the early days of the App Store but have since grown out of date (Skulls of the Shogun, Toki Tori). With a subscription, you can play awesome games and support digital game preservation.
Humble Bundle (starting at $11.99 per month) gives you many ways to buy games and support charities in the process. If you’re overwhelmed by the options, let Humble decide for you with the Humble Choice subscription. This membership gives you select, monthly PC games that you’ll own even after your subscription ends. You also get discounts and other curated perks to go along with it.
(Editors’ Note: Humble Bundle is owned by Ziff Davis, PCMag’s parent company.)
Nvidia GeForce Now (starting at $4.99 per month) is an excellent gaming subscription service that differs from many competitors by letting you stream your existing PC games on your mobile device via the cloud. It supports multiple stores, such as Epic Game Store and Steam, and demonstrated strong performance in our tests.
Among its other entertainment subscriptions, Amazon also sells Prime Gaming. This service gives you free PC games, and lets you unlock content in other titles. It also helps you financially support your favorite Twitch streamers, seeing as Amazon also owns that massive video game live streaming service. A standalone Prime Gaming subscription costs $8.99 per month, but it also comes included with an Amazon Prime or Prime Video sub.
Say what you will about Ubisoft, but the European publisher regularly releases a healthy number of games in multiple genres. See for yourself with Ubisoft+ (starting at $14.99 per month), which offers more than 100 new and classic games from throughout Ubisoft’s history, from Assassin’s Creed to Splinter Cell. Currently, this is a PC-based service with cloud gaming add-ons, but console versions are on the way. 
For more on gaming, check out our picks for the best PC games, Nintendo Switch Games, PlayStation 5 games, and Xbox Series X/S games. And for in-depth video game talk, visit PCMag’s Pop-Off YouTube channel(Opens in a new window).
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In 2013, I started my Ziff Davis career as an intern on PCMag’s Software team. Now, I’m an Analyst on the Apps and Gaming team, and I really just want to use my fancy Northwestern University journalism degree to write about video games. I host The Pop-Off, PCMag‘s video game show. I was previously the Senior Editor for Geek.com. I’ve also written for The A.V. Club, Kotaku, and Paste Magazine. I’m currently working on a book about the history of video games, and I’m the reason everything you think you know about Street Sharks is a lie.
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