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Xbox One vs PS4 2015: Digital Games



When they debuted in 2015 it seemed all but certain that Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s PS4 wouldn’t bring the digital games revolution that some said it would. Microsoft in particular had bungled the message. Opting not to share important information early enough about digital games killed an idea the company had for turning disc based games into digital games.

As both the Xbox One & PS4 have matured, so has the digital video games market. Digital games on the PS4 and Xbox One have progressed far beyond the simple downloads we thought they would see. Microsoft and Sony are embracing digital games in new ways and that on its own could help you decide which console is right for you.

PS4 Price Cut 2015 - 1

Xbox One vs PS4 2015: Buying Digital Games

First, let’s talk about the basics of buying digital games on the Xbox One and PS4. Mainly they haven’t changed. If anything, Microsoft and Sony seem to have converged on the same experiences.

Both the PS4 and Xbox One allow users to purchase games straight from their store instead of having to go to a retailer like GameStop. If those games are relatively new, their price remains unchanged — costing $59.99 complete with pre-order bonuses and upgrades if they are available. Both Microsoft and Sony do a terrific job of making it easier to play digital games on their release day too. The Xbox Store and PlayStation let users buy games ahead of release with the credit cards they have on file. When you purchase a game before release, both consoles let you download the game immediately instead of waiting until release and forcing you to wait until morning to play. A digital download doesn’t need to be complete for gamers to start playing.

There are many games available on both the PS4 and Xbox One.

Both consoles can immediately download the game regardless of where the user made the purchase. So for example, on the Xbox One you can buy a game on your smartphone using SmartGlass and have that game ready for you to play when you get home — provided you’ve set your Xbox One as your home console.

Frequently, the Xbox Store and PlayStation Store hold big sales on digital games. Switching out these sales weekly allows users to get a new deal soon, even if the last one wasn’t to their liking. Digital games that you purchase in either store are kept on services and then downloaded to your console when you’re ready. When PS4 users are ready to switch out their hard drives for larger versions they can redownload their digital games. Xbox Live keeps track of user purchases too, letting gamers download any title and app to an external hard drive if they’ve run out of space on their console.

Early on Microsoft bungled digital games and pre-orders, giving the PS4 a clear advantage over the Xbox One. Now, that advantage has been nearly erased with updates to the Xbox SmartGlass app and the Xbox Store.

Xbox One vs PS4 2015: Renting Digital Games

Though buying digital games is a tie between the Xbox One and PS4, renting them isn’t. This is the area we’ve seen a lot of changes in since 2013. Which approach to game rentals you have an appreciation for will definitely help you decide which console to buy.

Xbox One

EA Access Madden 16 FIFA 16

Today, video game rentals are something Microsoft completely lags behind Sony in. The company doesn’t have video game streaming technology of its own. Instead, the Xbox One is the only place where users can get EA Access.

Costing $4.99 a month, EA Access lets Xbox One owners download full digital versions of their most popular games. The EA Access downloads started with just yearly sports releases, but recently it’s grown to include more. This fall Dragon Age Inquisition is being added to the service. This past June first-person shooter Titanfall arrived.


10% discounts on games made by EA Access are included with an EA Access subscription. There’s early access to upcoming game releases too. If you’re a big Madden fan, purchasing an EA Access subscription and an Xbox One might be the best idea you’ve had all year. A year of EA Access is just $29.99. When you stop paying for EA Access you lose the games you’ve gotten through the service, but keep your game saves. This makes your transition to a purchased version of the game pretty simple.


Sony says that it walked away from an opportunity to bring EA Access subscriptions to its fans. It did so because it didn’t need a video game rental service competing with its PlayStation Now service.

PlayStation Now is by all estimates a technological marvel in its own right. Sony has a growing collection of games that allow PS4 owners to connect to its servers and stream gameplay to their console. Purchasing the game, or even buying a PlayStation Plus subscription isn’t required. Games like the Mass Effect and Assassin’s Creed series are all available for rental through PlayStation Now. Sony keeps a rolling list of PlayStation Now rental games here. Rentals are purchased in hourly and daily rates.

PlayStation Now offers a subscription service too. For $19.99 gamers get access to a smaller set of streaming titles at no addition charge.

Read: PlayStation Now Subscriptions: 5 Things to Know

Streaming from PlayStation Now isn’t a perfect solution for everyone. It’s requires a pretty decent internet connection to get going and that connection needs to remain stable over time. Any lag due to a slow internet connection and the feature is useless.

Xbox One vs PS4 2015: Digital Games Conclusion

I’d say that as far as digital games are concerned, the PS4 wins out. Those with a decent internet connection can rent a ton of games through PlayStation Now on just a whim. That’s cool, that’s futuristic. EA Access is the greatest deal in gaming today, but can’t stand up to PlayStation Now’s breadth of titles.

As for buying digital games, the PS4 and Xbox One are in a dead-heat. You can’t go wrong with purchasing either if you’re only going to buy your titles. The PS4 is on store shelves now for $399.99. The Xbox One now costs $349 for a model with a 500 GB hard drive and no Kinect sensor.



  1. henry

    07/13/2015 at 3:13 pm

    Are you seriously forgetting that PS Now is just old PS3 LAST GEN games ?, EA Access are this gen Xbox One titles .

    Xbox One will very soon be allowing you to play all your last gen Xbox 360 titles (backward compatibility) with one big difference it’s FREE, , you have to pay to rent PS3 titles even if you already own them on PS Now.

    When you swap out the Hard drive on PS4 it’s a pain and very limited in size and worst still you upgrade it with a one terabyte drive and you only get one terabyte as the internal drive has to be removed.

    The Xbox One allows up to Two USB 3 hard drives up to 16 TERABYTES, you simply plug the drive in and it’s ready to go, you don’t have to re download anything as you can simply move games off the internal drive as well as download and install to external USB 3.

    You can also take just the USB hard drive with the Xbox one games you have put on it to any other Xbox One anywhere you can sign in and play those games instantly all whilst your Xbox is at home.

    • Tim miller

      07/13/2015 at 5:58 pm

      You read my mind

    • Kazzong

      07/13/2015 at 8:40 pm

      Yeah. Not to mention games with gold. Which is also exclusively a digital service.
      (which simply GIVES players games each month for free.)

    • ed

      07/14/2015 at 8:20 am

      Not all your 360 games, only 10% and only 100 coming in the next year. The reason no one bothers with BC is that less than 5% of gamers care. Fact.

      Your nonsense about changing the PS4 hard drive? It’s simple and costs far, far less then X1. And you have so many more options. It’s a much better set up.

      • GIGGA GOON

        07/16/2015 at 8:14 am

        Confirmed Bait. More than 50% of the Xbox 360 library will be released. a 100 this fall with plenty more coming in the future months. Ps4 Drives DO NOT cost less than X1 drives and YOU DO NOT have “So many more options.” What a Crock of absolute shit. Absolute. 5% care about BC? where’d you pull that statistic? Your ass? Thought so. PONY IN THE HOUSE NIGGA #Trashthispieceofshit4 #KeepItXboxlittleGirl

      • Jeff Rickel

        07/16/2015 at 7:22 pm

        Changing the PS4 HDD is not simple if you need to back things up. You need to back up saves and then reinstall EVERYTHING. With the Xbox, you just plug in any USB 3 HDD and you’re good to go. Awesome thing is that I can install games on the HDD and take it with me, so when visiting my brother or a friend with a X1, I can play those games when I sign in with my MS account. I don’t have to reinstall the games on the new console. I do have to bring discs with me if I installed from disc. If I downloaded digitally then I just need an internet connection to verify.

        Sure, on PS4 and X1 I can go, login, and install my digital games. But then I have to wait for install. With the X1 USB HDD capability, I can plug and play in only a minute.

        Should also be noted than Xbox 360 backwards compatibility will START with 100 titles. They will keep adding – and many publishers are embracing the added revenue source of exploiting their backcatalog on the X1. Ubisoft loves it. Why? Those 360 games will go into the Xbox One Store. And it also means Gamestop will sell 360 games for longer than PS3. Why? Because a current console can play them. Cool thing is that Microsoft could even go all the way back to the original Xbox really easily too due to the architecture.

        There’s been some talk that there will be around 300 Xbox 360 titles able to run by Christmas and over 600 by Spring.

        It also opens the door for packages like what is happening with Fallout 4. Preorder and get a copy of Fallout 3 that will run through emulation on the X1 included.

        Imagine if that Arkham remastered collection hits with Asylum and City. The Xbox could offer a free copy of Origins and even Origins Blackgate for preorders. This would also allow WB to sell a DLC package for Origins on the X1, making a little bit of extra cash on an old title just because someone wanted to play Cold, Cold Heart.

        I have a PS3, not a 360. So I grab all the available 360 games with Gold as soon as they pop up because many of them (including the one that went live today, Gears of War 3, will be backwards compatible in all likelihood). Once backwards compatibility hits, I’ll just ditch the PS3 entirely and god full on Xbox.

        And if replacing the HDD on the PS4 is like the PS3, it’s less of a picnic than you think. Sony expected me to pay for PS+ to backup my saved games.

        • erd

          07/17/2015 at 4:40 am

          Well .said.

          “ed” who posted above you seems to have as much knowledge on console differences as the person who wrote this article and that is next to NONE.

  2. Modi Rage

    07/14/2015 at 3:34 am

    Sony didn’t turn away EA Access because of PS Now. PS Now and EA Access don’t compete. They’re different kind of services that don’t offer the same games. EA Access only lets you rent games natively on the Xbox One.

    Sony stated that they will allow EA Access on the PS4 once they think it offers good enough value. I’m inclined to agree. EA Access doesn’t set a good precedence and the paid demo part is obviously a rip off. I don’t trust Peter Moore one bit. He used to work for Microsoft and he’s obviously still in bed with them.

    • Jeff Rickel

      07/16/2015 at 7:35 pm

      $30 for a year is pretty good value.

      Sony didn’t want to do it because it’s not a big revenue generator for them. Sony can’t sacrifice margins because they are cash poor. The Arkham bundle is probably the last big push you’ll see from them until Spring. They need PS Now because it can make them money. EA Access gives MS a little, but MS would make much more if people just paid for the games and they got the license fees associated.

      Microsoft can cut deals with developers. They can sacrifice. Their console costs less to make and they are a cash rich company sitting on over $90 Billion in cash. Sony has almost zero cash, makes no money in electronics any more, and is completely reliant on their insurance business in Japan. One bad quarter for the Playstation and everything could come crashing down. I’ll be interested to see how they do over the next six months with Halo 5, Forza 6, Crackdown 2, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Scalebound, and Quantum Break all coming as exclusives (Tomb Raider will hit PS4 eventually, but we don’t know when – probably 6-12 months after X1). Sony doesn’t really have any exclusives hitting until Spring and even then it’s iffy when you go beyond Uncharted.

      A bad Christmas quarter for Sony could be the beginning of the end for the Playstation name. They need huge sales to show them they need to stay in the business long term. Xbox One has a lot of big titles coming. That will go with aggressive packaging and a strong push in Europe starting with their presence at Gamescon in Germany. Xbox has been up lately. PS4 has done well too, but most of that was the Arkham Knight bundle. What can they do next against the onslaught of Xbox exclusives, backwards compatibility, and Universal Apps on X1? That means a lot of tablet and phone games on the console that won’t be on PS4. That means a lot more apps for little things that may have some meaning for people. That means a large library of games – that I think they should look into expanding to classic Xbox games as well (and some of that is happening with Rare Replay – another Xbox One exclusive). There’s an onslaught coming and a lot of pressure on Sony to maintain sales without much in the tank.

      Should be interesting to see where we go from here. Xbox One has a lot going on in the future. PS4’s best days may have already passed. Sony has no money to pump in and can’t keep up with packages and discounts. I doubt we see a price drop for another year at least – and Xbox One could conceivably go down to $299 by then because MS can afford it.

      • stewpot

        07/17/2015 at 4:44 am

        Totally agree.

      • Kidd

        07/17/2015 at 3:47 pm

        Xbox One cost’s more to make! That’s one thing your wrong about. And still cheaper than Ps4!! Just goes to show you Microsoft wants there console to succeed! Not to mention Window’s 10 Dx12 Games all improvements that could change the way everybody see’s this resolution gate and fps for free!! Good Times for Xbox Gamer’s and better use of the console cant wait!!

        • Jeff Rickel

          07/17/2015 at 4:11 pm

          Just looked that up. I had assumed the PS4 was more expensive due to its RAM and GPU component in the APU. Looks like the Xbox costs more due to the ESRAM and external power supply. The design choices make a lot of sense, especially considering what the Xbox can do with multitasking compared to the PS4. Sony got a bit fortunate they were able to add 4GB of memory at the last second because they knew they’d get knocked for having only half the memory of the Xbox, even if it was GDDR5.

  3. Don

    07/14/2015 at 3:24 pm

    Wow…Xbox one and ps4 debued in 2015?….I guess someone at Microsoft screwed up and sent me two years before launch lol

  4. grantmichgoldie

    08/06/2015 at 5:03 pm

    Thanks for the article. Just want to inform all folks who live outside US that PS4 is a great media Player. If you want to access Netflix and other streaming stations on your PS4 you can use UnoTelly as I do to get around the geo block.

  5. Joserblack

    08/28/2015 at 2:37 am

    0==2 my buddy’s mother-in-law makes $63 every hour on the laptop . She has been without work for eight months but last month her income was $21480 just working on the laptop for a few hours. view it now>>>>> Get More

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