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PlayStation Plus vs. PlayStation Now: What’s the difference?

Let’s look at Sony’s subscription gaming services.

Video-game screenshot featuring Ratchet, a cat-like creature called a lombax, and his robot companion, Clank. Credit: Insomniac Games

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As we enter a new generation of gaming consoles, games, and subscription services, it’s worth looking at the different options and what they offer. Sony’s PlayStation 5 became the hot yet impossible-to-get item of this past holiday season, and it remains an extremely sought-after piece of hardware with games like Deathloop, Horizon Forbidden West, and the next God of War not far off.

While next-gen consoles and cloud gaming have changed the way we buy and play games, Sony’s dual subscription services, PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now, can make things pretty confusing. Below, we’ll break down Sony’s two services and highlight their key differences and features, helping you decide which of them might suit your needs. Whether you’ve just picked up the new PS5 console or you’re trying to make the most out of your PS4, here’s everything you need to know about PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now.

What is PlayStation Plus?

Credit: Motive Studios

Motive’s phenomenal ‘Star Wars: Squadrons’ is free with a PlayStation Plus subscription.

PlayStation Plus serves as the basis for Sony’s online multiplayer services. For most games, this is the only way to play with your friends online, though there are exceptions (more on those below). In addition to unrestricted online play, PS Plus members get two new PS4 games every month; these stay in your library forever and remain playable as long as your subscription stays active.

The service also gives players access to the PlayStation Plus Collection, but it’s a benefit exclusive to PS5 owners. PS4 games in the collection include Batman: Arkham Knight, Bloodborne, Call of Duty: Black Ops III, Fallout 4, God of War, The Last of Us, Persona 5, Resident Evil 7, and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, among others. You can expect a noticeable performance boost on most or all of them with the PS5.

PS Plus members also enjoy exclusive in-game content for select titles, 100GB of cloud storage for game saves, and the Share Play feature, which allows you to play with a friend who has PS Plus—even single-player games—regardless of whether or not they own the game themselves. You also get free shipping on PlayStation hardware and accessories purchased directly from Sony.

Get 12 months of PlayStation Plus from CDKeys for $38.29

How much is PlayStation Plus?

PS Plus will run you $9.99 a month, $24.99 for three months, or $44.99 annually.

Do you need PlayStation Plus to play Fortnite and Warzone?

No, you don’t need PS Plus to enjoy free-to-play titles like Fortnite, Call of Duty: Warzone, or Apex Legends online. You also don’t need the service to chat with friends over the PlayStation Network. Xbox, by contrast, requires either Game Pass Ultimate or Xbox Live Gold to use its Party Chat function.

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What is PlayStation Now?

Kratos and Atreus fight a giant creature in the PS4 hit God of War.
Credit: Santa Monica Studio

Santa Monica Studio’s ‘God of War’ was a massive hit on PS4.

PlayStation Now is Sony’s cloud-based subscription streaming service. You can think of it like Netflix or Disney+, but for PlayStation games. Subscribers get instant access to hundreds of PS4, PS3, and PS2 games—all playable on PS 4, PS5, and Windows PCs (via the free PS Now app).

Users on PS4 and PS5 can download the games to their consoles and store save files on either the console or on PS Plus’s cloud storage. But streamed games—those you don’t download but stream remotely—will always save to the PS Now save cloud. You can manually transfer your save file over to your console if you want to store the game there, but it’ll require a PS Plus subscription to do so.

PC players will need a DualShock 4 controller (and USB cable), and you’ll need a high-speed broadband connection (about 15 Mbps down at minimum) to reliably stream games. For best performance on your PC, Sony recommends at least a 3.5 GHz Intel Core i3 or 3.8 GHz AMD A10, in terms of processing power, and 2 GB of RAM.

As of this writing, the PlayStation Now library features over 800 games, including Batman: Arkham Asylum, Bloodborne, Borderlands 3, Friday the 13th: The Game, Horizon Zero Dawn, Journey, The Last of Us, Marvel’s Avengers, Red Dead Redemption, Shadow of the Colossus, Spec Ops: The Line, and The Witcher 3, among other notable titles.

Get 12 months of PlayStation Now from CDKeys for $42.59

How much is PlayStation Now?

PS Now costs $9.99 per month, $19.99 for every three months, or $44.99 annually. Sony also offers a seven-day free trial for folks who are brand-new to the service. As of mid-2021, however, there’s still no combined subscription bundle that includes PlayStation Plus and PS Now together.

What’s the difference between PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now?

To break it down in basic terms, the two main reasons to get PlayStation Plus are online multiplayer and access to two free games per month. The main reason to get PS Now is to have an extra library with hundreds of streamable games, ensuring that you’ll always have something new to play. If all you want to use your PS5 for is Fortnite and the occasional Spider-Man or Last of Us adventure, you probably don’t need a monthly subscription at all.

If you do think you’d benefit from one of Sony’s subscription services, you can usually get a great deal on a 12-month code or gift card—like the CDKeys discounts we linked to above. You’ll save money by going through a third-party retailer and paying for the whole year up front, so shop around.

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

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