Gifting a Game Console? Don’t Forget the Subscription!

Gifting a Game Console? Don’t Forget the Subscription!
A photo of Mario and friends with gift cards for Switch Online, PS Plus, and Xbox Game Pass.
Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft

You were lucky enough to get your hands on a Nintendo Switch, a PlayStation 5, or an Xbox Series X/S. But before you call Christmas a wrap, you gotta grab a subscription for Switch Online, PlayStation Plus, or Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. These subscriptions are the key to playing games with friends, and they come with cool perks like free games and discounts on new titles.

You can sign up for these services through the internet, but I suggest buying a gift card instead. Not just because gift cards are wrappable, but because you can redeem them at any time. If someone happens to get two of these gift cards for Christmas or already has a subscription to one of these services, they can still hold on to the gift card you gave them and redeem it at a later date.

Nintendo Switch Online

A screenshot from the Nintendo Switch online website
Nintendo

The Nintendo Switch is a fantastic console with some of the best multiplayer games of all time. But if you want to play Mario Kart, Animal Crossing, Splatoon 2, or Fortnite with your friends, you gotta join Nintendo Switch Online first.

Nintendo Switch Online is an affordable program that lets gamers play with friends and strangers online. It also unlocks Nintendo’s collection of free NES and SNES games on the Switch, along with a few new titles like Tetris 99 and Pokémon Quest.

Amazon sells Nintendo Switch Online memberships for individuals (1 profile) and families (8 profiles). I suggest buying the family membership for anyone who shares a console with siblings, roommates, or family members. Family memberships are also best option for households with multiple Nintendo Switch consoles.

Online Multiplayer and Free Retro Games

PlayStation Plus

A screenshot of the PlayStation Plus website.
Sony

You can’t buy a PlayStation 5 without a PlayStation Plus subscription. I mean, you can, but only PlayStation Plus members can participate in online multiplayer. Not to mention, PlayStation Plus members get two free games a month, and the service unlocks 20 free games on the PS5, including Fallout 4, God of War, Call of Duty: Black Ops III, and Persona 5.

That said, if you want to go the extra mile, you could grab a PlayStation Now subscription alongside PlayStation Plus. The confusingly named PlayStation Now service opens the door to over 800 games through game streaming and downloads, and it’s the only way to play many PS2 and PS3 games on the PS5.

Online Multiplayer and Free Monthly Games

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate

A screenshot from the Xbox Game Pass website.
Microsoft

It’s hard to overstate the importance of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. Yeah, it lets you play your friends online, but it also gives you access to over 200 titles for free, including hit games like Doom Eternal, Gears 5, The Outer Worlds, and Halo: The Master Chief Collection.

The Game Pass Ultimate library is always growing, and you can access it whether you’re using an Xbox Series X, an Xbox One, a PC (for cross-platform titles), or even an Android phone. If that’s not enough, Game Pass Ultimate now comes with a free month of Disney+ and other fun perks.

Game Pass Ultimate is the best gift you can give to a gamer—after they unwrap their Xbox Series X/S, of course. Just make sure that you buy a subscription to Game Pass Ultimate. The basic version of this service doesn’t give you access to online multiplayer unless the person you’re shopping for already has a subscription to Xbox Live Gold. That said, if you’re shopping for someone who doesn’t care about hundreds of free games and only wants online access, then you should buy Xbox Live Gold instead of Game Pass Ultimate.

Online Access, 200+ Free Games, and More

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