South Africans have a choice of several gaming subscription services which allow them to play a wide range of titles at affordable monthly prices.
Publishers have in recent years realised that the success of the subscription-based models used by Netflix and other streaming services could be replicated in the gaming industry.
Increased broadband connectivity means more gamers are connected to the Internet on a near-permanent basis.
Because of this, publishers have increased control over players’ access to game libraries, making it possible to eliminate the need for game ownership.
Gaming subscriptions are growing in popularity around the globe, and with physical copies and digital downloads of the latest AAA titles priced at more than R1,000 in South Africa these days, their local value proposition is evident.
Xbox Game Pass
One of the biggest successes in this area has been Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass, which provides PC and Xbox gamers with access to a big slate of titles from the ever-growing list of Xbox studios and third-party partners at only R99 per month in South Africa.
Its library currently includes major games from franchises like Age of Empires, Halo, Forza Motorsport, and Gears.
Microsoft recently acquired ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Bethesda Softworks, which is responsible for hit games in the Elder Scrolls, Fallout, and Doom series.
Doom Eternal is already available on Game Pass, and many of Bethesda’s titles are expected to launch or be exclusive to Xbox Game Pass in future.
Alongside Xbox Game Pass, there are four major gaming subscription services to choose from in South Africa – Apple Arcade, EA Play, PlayStation Plus, and Uplay+.
Apple Arcade is aimed at the more casual gaming crowd, allowing iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV owners to play over 130 arcade-style games for R84.99 per month.
At only R48.50 per month, EA Play is the cheapest option available, and currently provides a library of 181 games including numerous Electronic Arts titles from franchises like FIFA, Battlefield, Star Wars: Battlefront, and Mass Effect.
EA Play is also set to be included with the Xbox Game Pass.
UPlay+ is Ubisoft’s equivalent service, providing subscribers with access to games like Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, Far Cry 5, Watch Dogs: Legion, and a wide range of Tom Clancy-based titles.
Ubisoft does not offer localised pricing for this plan, however, which means South Africans have to pay the subscription fee in euros, and at €14.99 (R293), it is the most expensive option.
Sony’s PlayStation Plus differs from the other services by adding two or more titles to the library each month, which the user needs to download at that time to own.
As long as they remain a subscriber, they can play these games. Titles which were offered in months prior to signing up will not be available to new subscribers.
We’ve summarised information about the various game subscription services available in South Africa to see how their library sizes, games, and prices compare.
Even when their prices are combined, these services are still cheaper than buying a new AAA title.
|Service||Platform||Library size||Major titles / franchises||Price|
What the Golf?
|R84.99 per month|
Need for Speed
|R48.50 per month
R299 per year
|EA Play Pro||PC||221||All of the above plus:
Command and Conquer Remastered
Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order
Star Wars: Squadrons
|R199.95 per month
R1,199.99 per year
|PlayStation Plus||PS4||Download-dependent||Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Campaign
Call of Duty: WWII
Need for Speed: Payback
Rise of the Tomb Raider
Star Wars: Battlefront II
The Sims 4
Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection
|R119.00 per month
R749.00 per year
Brothers in Arms
Prince of Persia
|€14.99 (R293) per month|
|Xbox Game Pass||Xbox One||240||Age of Empires
Gears of War
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020
Sea of Thieves
The Outer Worlds
World War Z
|R99.00 per month|
|Xbox Game Pass for PC||PC||212||R99.00 per month|
|Xbox Game Pass Ultimate||PC
|383 (combined)||R149.00 per month|