PlayStation Plans to Rival Xbox Game Pass with New Subscription Service

Tech 8-12-2021 ExtremeTech-RSS 30

PlayStation may soon release an updated game subscription service to rival Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass. According to new documents, Sony plans to overhaul its two existing PlayStation subscriptions—PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now—and create one major service that can match its competitor’s. 

The new service, code-named Sparticus while under development, is expected to arrive in spring 2022. Source documents outline a stacking three-tiered model, with offerings ranging from minimal to expansive. Bloomberg reports the first tier is to include benefits currently offered within PlayStation Plus. The middle tier will add a large suite of PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 games. Finally, the third (and likely most expensive) tier will offer game streaming, extended demos, and a range of classic PlayStation 1, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation Portable games. 

PlayStation Now, one of two existing subscription models. (Image: Sony)

PlayStation Plus, one of the console’s existing subscription models, currently dishes out “free” monthly games with new additions each month. It also gives gamers access to online multiplayer, just like Nintendo Online does for the Nintendo Switch. But PlayStation Plus is a bit outdated, having kicked off in 2010 to compete with Xbox Live Gold. PlayStation owners have also complained that the service is too easily confused with PlayStation Now, which opens up the opportunity to stream and download older titles. Given the age of both services (PlayStation Now was introduced in 2014) and the perceived overlap between the two, Sony has the perfect opportunity to introduce an updated one-stop-shop service. Per Bloomberg’s sources, “Sparticus” will most likely retain the PlayStation Plus imprint. 

Subscription video game services have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years, and for good reason. The barrier to entry is low; Game Pass is only $10 or $15 per month, depending on whether you want to access games via your console, PC, or both, while EA Play’s small but mighty collection costs just $5 a month. (A small monthly fee is a lot more approachable than a heftier price tag for one game, especially when that game may be something you get bored with after a few plays.) While video game subscriptions don’t technically allow you to own the games you play—you lose access to a service’s titles once you stop paying for the subscription, kind of like Netflix—they’re cheap enough to maintain access to favorites long-term. Titles are also updated relatively frequently, which helps keep services’ collections from going stale. 

Now we just have to hope more people can get their hands on the elusive PlayStation 5 before Sparticus makes its debut. 

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