We don’t need to mention the elephant in the room, but it’s an obvious fact that hundreds of millions of gamers worldwide now have more time on their hands. There has been an immense increase in engagement on gaming platforms, from online multiplayer to streaming services like Twitch. We discussed this topic in an earlier article, wherein we surmised that COVID-19 would have a heavy impact on the gaming industry.
Today, we’ll cast a light over some of the best gaming services out there. These are the money-saving, gaming-spree-enabling, time-killing wonders that exist to provide hundreds of hours of thrifty entertainment. Is lockdown the best time to plough through an entire series of games? Is it ideal for trying a franchise you’d never look at otherwise?
Let’s see if any of these take your fancy!
1. Uplay+ (Ubisoft; PC)
This takes first spot on the list, as it’s my favourite – bar none. I recently became a PC gamer (with a rather hefty rig) and stumbled across what I thought was the best gaming service money could buy. If you’re a fan of top-flight developer Ubisoft’s titles, you’ll be silly to pass this up.
What is it? Take basically every single Ubisoft game available: Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, Division, Watchdogs, Tom Clancy, the list goes on. Now, throw in all the expansions, DLCs and pieces of bonus content these games come with. Finally, wrap them all up in one affordable monthly package and give the player the ability to pick and choose whatever they want.
This is around 4000 hours of content, over 100 titles, and you get all future titles pre-bought. I’ve subscribed to this and cannot explain the level of value you get here; it’s insane. The one and only drawback is that while this might be the best gaming service (in my eyes), it is limited to being a PC-exclusive one.
Game Selection: 9/10 (incredible, but only if you’re a Ubisoft fan like myself)
Cost: 8/10 (the £13 price tag can be considered a little high, but you are getting new titles included)
Accessibility: 8/10 (restricted to just one platform, but it’s dead easy – just use the Uplay launcher)
Find out more: https://store.ubi.com/uk/uplayplus
2. Boomerang Rentals (Console; UK only)
This is the second service I’m currently subscribed to, and it’s certainly deserving of a space on this list. In 2017, I decided I was done paying through the nose for console titles. I play a lot of games, and dropping £40 – £50 on every launch title just wasn’t practical. I was missing out.
Lo and behold, along comes Boomerang. This is a fantastic gaming service, and it aims to provide a neat monthly package for any kind of gamer. It doesn’t matter if you play three releases a year or thirty, there’s something for everyone. My package allows me to receive games at launch (with priority) and borrow up to two at a time. It’s all done via the postal service (so it’s COVID friendly) and it’s super efficient and seamless.
It’s not a super well-known service, even in the UK, but it’s crazy worthwhile if you play on Xbox One PS4 or PC and want to save some money on new (or old) titles!
Game Selection: 10/10 (literally every new game that launches, and an incredible back-catalog)
Cost: 8/10 (you can pick the tier that is right for you, but it does add up over time if you want a better package)
Accessibility: 10/10 (absolutely brilliant if you’re a UK gamer with any console. It’s freepost and super quick to use)
Find out more: https://www.boomerangrentals.co.uk/
3. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (Microsoft; Xbox One and PC)
This first-party, all-inclusive and extensive gaming service comes equipped with some big guns. If you subscribe (for a considerably low fee) you’ll not only get access to a massive library of titles, but you’ll also get all first-party games at launch. This includes anything like Gears of War, Halo or Forza.
The kicker here is that Game Pass Ultimate also provides the subscriber with Xbox Gold, the platform’s online service. This enables the user to receive free titles every month, as well as special discounts on the Xbox store. Nice!
Oh, but it doesn’t end there. If you subscribe to Game Pass Ultimate, you’ll also be granted the ability to play any applicable titles in the list on PC. Therefore, if you run a PC/Xbox setup, you’ll be spoilt for choice on where to play these games.
That’s a pretty awesome deal, right?
Game Selection: 9/10 (not only do you get the first-party titles from Xbox, but there’s a sizeable catalog of other games to dive into that grows regularly)
Cost: 10/10 (you get so much for the £10.99 a month that it’s hard to call this bad value)
Accessibility: 9/10 (it’s seamless whether you’re using the gaming service on PC or Xbox One – super easy)
Find out more: https://www.xbox.com/en-GB/xbox-game-pass
4. PS Now (Sony; PlayStation and PC)
It costs a little less than Game Pass and does a little less, but PS Now is still an awesome service. This gaming service will allow players not only to pick up games on their PS4 consoles, but also on PC, through a desktop app. The library is absolutely fantastic, and includes most (if not all) first-party titles from Sony.
The biggest difference between this and Game Pass is how it works technologically. When you subscribe to PS Now, you’re given the option to either stream the games or download them to your unit. That’s right – stream the games. You can press play, install a tiny portion of the game, and be playing it within minutes. No massive install, no delay. The only caveat here is that you’ll a) need a strong internet connection and b) need to play the games in lower definition.
It is a shame that this isn’t bundled together in some way with Sony’s PS Plus service, but it’s still a brilliant gaming service if you want to sample a lot of games in a short period of time.
Game Selection: 9/10 (PS Now is home to some of the most critically acclaimed titles in recent history, there’s a fantastic library to choose from)
Cost: 7/10 (it’s moderately priced at just £8.99 a month, but lacking that bundle aspect that Game Pass brings. Also, having no new release availability is a drawback)
Accessibility: 8/10 (being available on two formats is great, but there are some limitations to the capability of the streaming technology)
Find out more: https://www.playstation.com/en-gb/explore/playstation-now/
5. Humble Choice (Humble; PC)
Humble have been known for years as one of the most trustworthy and generous gaming organisations out there. They consistently run fantastic sales and post (often insanely good) bundles that directly benefit an enormous list of charities worldwide. When you buy a Humble Bundle you can pick which charity will receive a portion of your purchase, with the added ability to donate extra if you so desire.
Enter Humble Choice, a killer gaming service that gives the user the ability to play awesome games on demand, and receive a crazy amount of titles to keep forever. Yes, forever.
Although it’s the second most expensive service in this list (at least at the highest tier) it’s certainly worth the cost. Every month, Humble will curate a list of ten titles that are offered to the subscriber. At that point, the subscriber will be able to pick nine (again, highest tier) to keep forever! It’s that simple.
Further to this, the user will receive exclusive discounts in the store, as well as being granted access to the ‘Humble Trove’. This is a brilliant archive of almost 100 titles, available to play at the drop of a hat. Not bad!
Game Selection: 8/10 (you never really know what you’re going to get, but it’s more often than not a great selection of titles. When you pair that with the archive available, it’s not a bad list)
Cost: 6/10 (Humble Choice starts low but the best value for money is the rather expensive top tier, at £15 a month)
Accessibility: 8/10 (while Humble sometimes does console bundles, this is restricted exclusively to PC. However, it’s easy enough to use, with the majority of games being redeemable on Steam)
Find out more: https://www.humblebundle.com/subscription
6. EA/Origin Access (EA; PS4, Xbox One, PC)
I’ve nestled this one away at the bottom of the list, as it’s the gaming service I use very little these days. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an awesome deal, I just don’t have a lot of use for it.
Working in a similar way to Uplay+, EA/Origin Access will allow the user access to an extensive list of EA titles, ranging from the very old to the most recent. As with most other services, it’s tiered, and at the highest level players will receive the newest EA titles as soon as they come out. It’s good, but expensive.
However, if you’ve not played games such as Mass Effect, the Battlefield franchise, Dead Space, Star Wars or any one of the countless sporting titles, you’re in for a treat. It’s worth noting that this is a seperate subscription for each platform, with PC (Origin Access) having the best selection of titles available.
It also ranks as the cheapest gaming service, coming in at just £19 a year for the cheapest package.
Game Selection: 6/10 (for myself, it’s not so amazing. The service is bloated with sports titles, but there are some gems in there)
Cost: 10/10 (you’ll barely notice the cost of the lowest tiers, costing around as much as a supermarket meal deal once a month)
Accessibility: 9/10 (the coverage across all main platforms is a nice touch, and all you need is either an app or the Origin launcher on PC)
Find out more: https://www.ea.com/ea-access
This list was compiled on the 21st May 2020, with all information and prices accurate at the time of writing. The information and ratings stated above are not paid for in any way, and are the sole opinions of the author. All content and titles offered in these services is subject to change as time goes on.