Xbox Game Pass is the ‘best deal in gaming’. That’s often what we hear, and honestly it’s very hard to argue against. Microsoft’s deep pockets has allowed the company to commit to day one releases of all first-party software on the service. This essentially allows gamers to play all the blockbusters for about the same price as directly purchasing two of them a year. Sony’s revised PlayStation Plus Premium does not, on paper, look to offer anywhere near as good a value. However, you’d be a fool if you don’t think they’re going to come out swinging this June.
The PlayStation Plus reshuffle is coming next month, and with it bringing new subscription options. A new three-tier system will come into play. This will merge the currently separate offerings of PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now into one cohesive programme. However, there are a number of caveats.
PlayStation Plus Premium
PlayStation Plus Premium, the top tier of the reshuffle, is essentially where Sony begins to compete with Xbox Game Pass. The benefits of the Essential and Extra tiers are included; that is, online play, cloud storage, downloadable PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 games included as standard. However, it also adds streaming and download options for a catalog of retro PlayStation titles. Specifically noted are PlayStation, PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable (PSP) games. PlayStation 3 will also be included, but only via cloud streaming.
In addition to this comes the return of game demos. Or rather, ‘trials’. This will allow gamers to try a game for a limited amount of time, unlocking options to purchase once the trial time has expired. This appears to be a feature that Sony will be pushing hard. Both to gamers, and to developers.
The Power of PlayStation
So, no day one releases for new PlayStation 5 titles, then? No. At least, not right now. However, if you think that the catalogue will be lack lustre at launch you’re probably pretty wide off the mark. Sony will want to prove that their service offers value to gamers, and to the industry. To do so, they’ve merged the PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now services, opposed to keeping them separate (ala Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass). Though the process is essentially the same, on paper it appears a much simpler proposition to upgrade PlayStation Plus than it does to transition from Xbox Live Gold to Xbox Game Pass.
PlayStation Plus already has a staggering subscription rate. The figure, as of March 2022, is reportedly standing at 47.4 million subscribers. All of these subscribers are set to be offered the opportunity to roll their existing subscription into the reshuffled service. That’s a huge jumping-off point. This, arguably, is a more attractive proposition for developers to bring their third-party titles to the service.
An Industry in Change
While it’s widely known that Microsoft create bespoke details with developers and publishers to bring their titles to Xbox Game Pass, the finer details of such deals are not known. Some receive upfront payment, some a percentage of the subscription price based on user retention, some a combination thereof. Sony will no doubt be offering similar deals, however their cash reserves for such practices will arguably be significantly lower. Indeed, the company recently revealed it’s intention to bank on first-party games to a much more significant degree.
Instead, it’s highly likely that Sony will be approaching developers to bring their older titles to the service on a similar user retention promise. There’s no denying that PlayStation has a much greater heritage than Xbox, and as such there are plenty of gamers out there who would be very keen to relive some past gaming experiences. Or even, to try PlayStation 2 or PlayStation 3 games that they missed first time around. This would be an attractive proposition to publishers: a chance to gain additional revenue from legacy titles with minimal new investment.
What’s Coming to PlayStation Plus Premium on Day One?
As it stands, there are currently numerous rumours as to what titles will be included in PlayStation Plus Premium at launch. However, as stated throughout this article, Sony will want to provide an attractive proposition to gamers out of the gate. Including the contents of the PlayStation Plus Collection launched with the PlayStation 5 is a no-brainer. However, our bets are on a selection of PlayStation 5 launch titles also being included. We could see the likes of Destruction All Stars, and Sackboy: A Big Adventure included at launch. Furthermore, wouldn’t it be incredible for a recent big hitter such as Horizon Forbidden West to be included? While day one is not an option at present, no one said anything about day 90.
We’ll surely learn more about what games are set to be included in the PlayStation Plus Premium tier in the coming weeks. However, at this point, if you think Sony is entering into this reshuffle without a strong strategy, you’d best think again.