These 5 game streaming services are the perfect last-minute presents for kids, including Xbox Ultimate, PlayStation Now, and Nintendo Online
If there are little ones in your life, odds are they enjoy video games. I know I've spent my fair share of nannying hours watching Minecraft videos on YouTube or getting annihilated in Super Smash Bros. by kids 15 years my junior. Yep, many modern parents are all too familiar with their children's passion for gaming on the Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, and even on the family computer.
But the nature of video games has shifted in recent years. Like most forms of media, physical disks are a fading concept. Digital downloads are now the norm when buying new games, and game streaming services are the sum of all of gaming's best parts. They allow users to skip a trip to GameStop and download video games directly to their console. But game streaming services have much more to offer the passionate gamer than convenience.
What is a game streaming service?
To put it simply, game streaming services — or game passes — are like Netflix for video games. A fixed monthly payment grants you access to a library of hundreds of games ready for you to play on the spot; no additional payments necessary. So instead of dropping a whopping $60 on the hottest new game, children can spare parents the begging and pleading and simply download it. And given how much kids love to bounce between games, that's a pretty sweet deal for everyone involved. Game streaming services also offer parental control options, making it easier to monitor and limit the contents of your child's games.
And they make great gifts, especially if you're looking for a quality present at the last minute. Stores like Best Buy, Target, and Walmart carry a healthy supply of game streaming services gift cards for various consoles. Plus, curbside pickup means you can likely get your hands on one within a day. They're also available as digital gifts, with your purchase conjuring a code that your recipient can cash in online or directly through their console.
But game streaming services aren't one size fits all, because different consoles have their own versions of game passes. PlayStation Now provides a library of programs for PlayStation owners, while Xbox Game Pass Ultimate caters to Xbox users and extends to PC gamers (a.k.a. those who play on the computer). So if you're going to give a game streaming service as a present, you'll need to ensure that you buy one that coincides with the console the child uses.
Figuring out the right service can be daunting, especially if you're not familiar with video games yourself. That's why we've written this helpful guide to the best game streaming services so you can choose the correct one, whether the kids love to battle it out in Fortnite on the PC or race against friends in Mario Kart 8 on the Nintendo Switch. That said, things get a little more complicated when picking an Xbox game pass.
Which Xbox Game Pass is right for my child?
While it's easy to understand that PlayStation Now is the go-to option for the PlayStation, Xbox game passes aren't as straightforward. There are multiple options, including Xbox Game Pass, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, and PC Game Pass. They share many features but differ based on your preferred gaming platform, so it's still important to buy the right one. We'll break down each of them below, but if you're still unsure as to which one to buy after reading, there are additional resources. Microsoft owns Xbox, and it offers free personal shopping appointments to help you pick the right product, games being no exception. Simply choose a topic, select a date and time, and you'll receive a Microsoft Teams video link for a one-on-one advising session.
Best 5 game streaming services that make great last-minute gifts for kids:
Here's a deep dive into the best game streaming services that make perfect last-minute presents for kids:
Best Game Streaming Service Overall: Xbox Game Pass Ultimate
Best Game Streaming Service for Xbox Users: Xbox Game Pass
Best Game Streaming Service for PlayStation Gamers: PlayStation Now
Best Game Streaming Service for Nintendo Switch Users: Nintendo Switch Online
Best Game Streaming Service for PC Gamers: Xbox Game Pass PC