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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.

Update, 12/21/22: Checked content for accuracy, product availability, and dead links.

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

an image from the Nintendo Switch online website

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: New Horizons, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, 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 NES and SNES games on the Switch. And if you choose the Nintendo Switch + Expansion pack you get a few included titles like Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Splatoon 2: Octo Expansion. The Switch + Expansion Pack also includes classic Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis games.

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

Online Multiplayer and Retro Games

Nintendo Switch Online 12-Month Individual Membership [Digital Code]

This 12-month Switch Online membership allows you to play games like 'Mario Kart' and 'Animal Crossing' with friends online. It also unlocks 70+ free NES and SNES games.

PlayStation Plus

an image of the PlayStation Plus website.

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 free games each month, and the service unlocks The PlayStation Plus Collection of curated PS4 titles, like God of WarUncharted 4: A Thief’s End, and Days Gone.

Additionally, now that PlayStation Now has been merged with PlayStation Plus, the service opens the door to hundreds of games through game streaming and downloads. And it’s the only way to play many PS2, PS3, an PS4 games—like Fallout 76The Last of Us Part IICeleste, and Final Fantasy VII Remastered—on the PS5.

Online Multiplayer and Free Monthly Games

12 Month Playstation Plus Psn Membership Card (New) 1 Year

PlayStation plus grants you access to online multiplayer, free monthly games, and even some game discounts. It's an essential item for all PlayStation 5 owners.

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate

an image from the Xbox Game Pass website.

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 100 titles for free, including hit games like Doom Eternal, Minecraft Dungeons, Psychonauts 2, 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. It also comes with a variety of 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, 100+ Free Games, and More

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate: 3 Month Membership [Digital Code]

Xbox Game Pass ultimate grants you access to over 200 games on Xbox Series X, PC, or your mobile phone. It also opens the door to Xbox online multiplayer and exclusive discounts.

Andrew Heinzman Andrew Heinzman
Andrew is the News Editor for Review Geek, where he covers breaking stories and manages the news team. He joined Life Savvy Media as a freelance writer in 2018 and has experience in a number of topics, including mobile hardware, audio, and IoT. Read Full Bio »