Gaming subscription showdown – South African prices and games compared

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.

The choices

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.

Comparison

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
Apple Arcade iPhone

iPad

Mac

Apple TV

142 Bleak Sword
Frogger
Grindstone
LEGO Brawls
Spaceland
Tangle Tower
What the Golf?
R84.99 per month
EA Play PC

PS4

Xbox One

181 Battlefield
Crysis
Dead Space
FIFA
Madden NFL
Mass Effect
Need for Speed
R48.50 per month

R299 per year

EA Play Pro PC 221 All of the above plus:
Command and Conquer Remastered
Sim City
Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order
Star Wars: Squadrons
Unravel 2
R199.95 per month

R1,199.99 per year

PlayStation Plus PS4 Download-dependent Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Campaign
Call of Duty: WWII
NBA 2K20
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

Uplay+  PC

PS4

Xbox One

118 Anno
Assassin’s Creed
Brothers in Arms
Far Cry
Prince of Persia
Rainbow Six
Splinter Cell
Watch Dogs
€14.99 (R293) per month
Xbox Game Pass Xbox One 240 Age of Empires
Gears of War
Halo
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020
Middle-Earth
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

Xbox One

383 (combined) R149.00 per month

Now read: PlayStation 5 vs Xbox Series X – Everything we know so far

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Gaming subscription showdown – South African prices and games compared