Sony’s PS Plus revamp isn’t a Game Pass killer

Loki stands alongside Brok in God of War Ragnarok on PS5.

Sony’s splashy first-party exclusives, like this year’s God of War Ragnarokwill not reach PS Plus at launch, a stark contrast to Game Pass’s strategy.
screenshot: Sony

This morning, Sony finally introduced its games-on-demand service in a blog post with more asterisks than the lease for your first apartment.. It’s an overhaul of PS Plus called… [drum roll] wait for it… [another drum roll] PSPlus.

Consistent with details first reported by Bloomberg, PS Plus 2.0 – yes, I’ll call it that – essentially combines Sony’s two subscription services, PS Plus and PS Now, into one easy-to-digest package. At first glance, the new and improved service seems like an obvious answer game pass, Microsoft’s games-on-demand service, which is currently subscribed to by more than 25 million people. Both offer access to hundreds of games. Both are available as monthly memberships. Both have options that allow you to stream games.

But the two differ enough in detail and approximation that it’s not a one-to-one comparison. If Game Pass is the “Netflix for gaming,” as people so often say, Sony’s offering is more like the “Hulu for gaming.” Let’s break it down.

How much does PS Plus cost compared to Game Pass?

PS Plus is available in four tiers. There’s PS Plus Essential, which is fundamentally unchanged from the current service, for $10 a month or $60 a year. PS Plus Extra costs $15 per month or $100 per year and adds a library of PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 games. PS Plus Premium costs $18 per month or $120 per year and adds games from previous PlayStation generations as well as game demos. Finally, geographic regions that don’t allow game streaming can sign up for PS Plus Deluxe what Says Sony costs a “lower price” than premium and excludes PS3 games. (Exact pricing is up in the air. Sony did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.)

Game Pass, on the other hand is available in two stages. The base tier, available on either Xbox or PC, costs $10 and gives access to a library of Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC games. The higher tier, Game Pass Ultimate, costs $15 per month and combines both along with a bunch of other perks. There is currently no (formal) way to pre-purchase an annual membership at a discount, although you can sometimes find a three-month pass via third party providers. But Microsoft, seemingly confident in Game Pass’s retention rate, only charges $1 for the first month.

So it’s easy to look at those prices and immediately take a stand against Sony’s top tier. Yes, $18 is more expensive than the $15 Game Pass Ultimate. But by the same measure, the annual cost of PS Plus Premium ($120) is significantly cheaper than Ultimate ($180). If you know you want to subscribe long-term, Sony’s service already seems a little more appealing.

What games do you get on PS Plus vs. Game Pass?

Of course, any games-on-demand service can be successful because of the strength of its library. According to its latest update, Game Pass offers around 450 games, of which around 350 are playable on PC. You can download any game from the library on Xbox or PC and stream about 100 games on compatible devices including phones.

In comparison, the PS Plus library is a bit more cluttered. At launch, PS Plus Extra will contain 400 PS4 and PS5 games anchored by marquees death stranding, God of War, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Mortal Kombat 11and return. Incidentally, PS5 owners will notice how some of these games overlap with the offerings on offer PS Plus Collection, making 20 of the best-selling PS4 games available to PS Plus subscribers with PS5 at no additional cost. It’s unclear whether or not the launch of PS Plus 2.0 will have any impact on this particular perk. Sony did not respond to a request for comment.

Subscribing to PS Plus Premium adds an additional 340 games from the PlayStation 1, PlayStation 2, PSP and PlayStation 3 libraries. You can download PS1, PS2, PS4, PS5 and PSP games and also stream some, but you cannot download PS3 games. You can only stream these. Basically, it’s PSNow.

Two vampire hunters wield guns in Redfall on Xbox Series X.

Microsoft recently boosted its portfolio with the industry-shocking purchase of Bethesda and promised to bring anticipated games like redfall added to the Game Pass library later that year.
image: arcane

There’s also a notable divide in how each service handles their respective exclusive games. Xbox offers first party games – everything from smash hits like Halo infinity and ForzaHorizon 5 to upcoming blockbusters starfield and redfall—on Game Pass at launch. For PS Plus, however, Sony won’t be adopting that strategy, at least not in the short term. PlayStation boss Jim Ryan said: in a recent interview, there’s really no reason to as it could devalue the prestige status of games produced by the company’s in-house studios. Sony’s first-party games like Horizon forbidden west and God of War already tearing up the charts and enchanting fans and critics alike; They don’t need the extra attention of a subscription service. In other words, don’t expect to see God of War Ragnarok Coming soon to PS Plus.

There’s a lot of hay about how PS Plus 2.0 is positioned as a Game Pass counterpart, and while such comparisons are fair, I’m not entirely convinced they capture the full picture. Yes, both services basically do the same thing (offer a range of easily accessible games for a monthly membership). They’re similar enough that it’s worth examining the broader strokes in which they differ (Sony’s service may be cheaper annually, but it lacks Game Pass’s best feature: Day One Exclusives). It’s also fun to play “pros and cons”.

But such brain teasers conveniently belie the fact that Sony doesn’t have to compete directly with Game Pass. The first party games are going well. And they also have legs: Horizon Zero DawnComing to PC three years after its exclusive release on PS4, it has sold more than 20 million copies, thanks in no small part to its PC port.

To me, today’s big takeaway has nothing to do with competing corporate giants. Rather, the era of subscription services — which has turned the film, music, and television industries on their head for the past decade — is now officially here for gaming, too. And it’s not going anywhere any time soon. Sony’s PS Plus revamp isn’t a Game Pass killer

Curtis Crabtree

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