Can We Really Call PlayStation Spartacus A Game Pass Competitor? [Update]

Can We Really Call PlayStation Spartacus A Game Pass Competitor? [Update]
An illustrated representation of the subscription service console battle. (Image: Ruby Innes)

Original: 12:19PM AEDT, March 28th 2022

So everybody’s chomping at the bit for PlayStation Spartacus, the upcoming ‘Game Pass competitor’ from Sony. The previously touched-on report from Bloomberg gave us a bit of insight into what the platform might look like. Bloomberg’s sources suggest that first-party Sony titles will likely not appear on the Spartacus platform at launch the way many first-party Xbox titles do on Game Pass. Also worth noting is the reported ‘tier system’, which will see users paying different prices for different benefits.

Though the Bloomberg report suggests the official announcement could be happening any day now, details on Spartacus itself are not yet concrete. As a result, it’s hard to give a hot take on the PlayStation Spartacus project in comparison to other platforms of the same ilk. However, this boat has been a leaky one and, going off what we know so far, it’s worth asking: Can we consider it a competitor to Game Pass when it might not even give much to compete with?

Let’s look at the first big boy: no Day One titles. This decision is fairly understandable. Sony’s library of iconic first-party titles outweighs that of Xbox. That’s not to say the first-party titles coming out of Xbox are bad, far from it. It’s about what each platform is designed to do. Game Pass wants to bring new people in. Spartacus may be an extension of a system that players already use. It’s pretty hard for Xbox to compete with big guns like God of War and The Last of Us. Sony’s first-party titles also sell incredibly well, so it’s easy to see why Sony might be reluctant to give them away for a monthly subscription fee. This is one of the Game Pass’ biggest selling points, so what’s Spartacus got?

The next point to look at is the tiers. Once again, we don’t know everything. In an earlier report from Bloomberg, we learned that the tier system will cover quite a bit of ground. To quote Ian’s article:

Much like Xbox Game Pass, the Spartacus subscription will also come in various flavours depending on how much users are willing to spend. The cheapest tier should look a lot like the current PlayStation Plus service, the second tier will add PlayStation 4 and (eventually) PlayStation 5 games, and a third tier will offer extended demos and game streaming as well as PlayStation, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, and even PlayStation Portable libraries.

The information is somewhat vague but gives us a rough idea of what’s included. Based on these claims, it seems like PlayStation Spartacus will be a better rendition of the Nintendo Switch Online subscription. The quantity and timing of the release of classic games from previous consoles will be what puts the service above Nintendo’s service. One thing here sticks out for me though, and that’s ‘extended demos’. Demos are a great way for people to ‘try before they buy’ or get a feel for a game before release but are also… free normally. You can just download them from most online gaming storefronts. The beauty of a good demo is when it hypes you up for a game, gives you a good idea of what the game will include, while also not giving too much away. Are ‘extended demos’ really a hot sell? Maybe, I guess that changes from person to person.

Based on what we’ve seen so far, PlayStation Spartacus could be a worthy competitor to the Nintendo Switch Online subscription service and could knock them out of the park in terms of content quantity. In saying that, it also feels like Spartacus and Game Pass might be in leagues of their own rather than notable competitors based on content and delivery of said content. Both work in their own right, but look like they’re going to be reasonably different. All services have their different perks, but none of them will ever amount to Netflix Games and their fruitful selection of 16 phone games. Sorry!

All this being said, we won’t know until we know. From my experience, the PlayStation 5 is a fantastic console with an intuitive controller and a hefty amount of power, and a service like Game Pass seems like the next logical step.  What would make it that much better is being able to go incredibly fucking hard on the old Mary-Kate & Ashley games for the original PlayStation.

What are your thoughts on it? Do you think Spartacus will match up to the Game Pass? Or do you think it’ll be something else entirely? Let us know!

Update: 7:00AM AEDT, March 30th 2022

Well folks, it’s been announced! The brand new PlayStation Plus service has finally been officially announced. So has my opinion changed? Not really.

It’s not a Game Pass competitor, it’s a completely different service, and that’s not a bad thing. While the day-one games for Game Pass feature won’t be seen on the new PlayStation Plus service, CEO Jim Ryan has stated that it’s due to their first-party titles being successful in their own right, which provides investment for future titles in that series.

The biggest sell, it seems, comes in the form of A LOT of older PlayStation titles being available on the platform. This confirms that it’s really more of a much better version of the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack than it is a Game Pass contender.

All in all, the new PlayStation Plus service looks like it’s going to give a hell of a lot in a way that makes sense for PlayStation as a whole, and stands as it’s own separate kind of service in comparison to the Xbox Game Pass. Both serve their own purposes, and that’s just fine.


  • To answer your article’s main question, it’s simple. No. It’s not a Game Pass competitor and I think you iterated it well when you said it is more inline with the Nintendo Online subscription.

    I know we all like to say Sony first party games are amazing (and they definitely are) but through acquisition (some would say cheating?) Microsoft has some amazingly big heavy hitters which will STILL hit day 1 that can rival the God of Wars and Last of Us that you mentioned. Bethesda’s games alone are huge, and let’s not forget what I would consider 2 of 2021’s best games, Psychonauts 2 and Forza Horizon 5 were day 1 on GP (you could argue Flight Simulator as well, but it was technically 2020 on PC) Add to that other titles which I enjoyed without their AAA branding but had zero barrier to entry (things like Minecraft Dungeons and Battletoads).

    On the flip side, giving older PS4 or PS5 games doesn’t really hold the same punch to it. After all that though… I’m still probably going to be subscribing to the top tier to play older games, so maybe I’m just a part of the problem!

  • I love Sony and have for a long time but I really don’t have high hopes for whatever this turns out to be. Sony has always lacked in the services department, everything just feels like an afterthought, PS video, PS music, PS now. They were ahead of the curve when they acquired gaikai streaming tech ten years ago but they just never upgraded it.
    All they need to do is sort out backwards compatibility then they’ll have my attention. A huge library of PS1, PS2 and PS3 games available at launch needs to be the goal.

  • No and I still maintain that it doesn’t even need to be.
    Gamepass is all the eggs in one basket, the centre point of Microsoft’s strategy.
    Sonys strategy has been the same for years now and it works, I think Spartacus will just be an upgraded PS+ with additional offerings to supplement their current strategy.
    The only problem I believe Sony is currently facing right now is the cost of games, something that doesn’t necessarily have to be fixed by throwing themselves at the mercy of their competitors.

    I find a lot of the Sony vs MS in gaming media today to be disingenuous and manipulative at the best of times. (Not a reference to you or this article Ruby)
    A mish mash of the old console wars habits, tall poppy syndrome and getting sucked in to marketing narratives.
    For more than a couple of years now there’s been a persistent and fabricated misconception that Sony must immediately change course or be destroyed, despite the fact that their course has been the undeniable reason for their current success.
    Things like leaving E3, exclusives, backward compatibility, cross play, Gamepass, all things raised as the death of PlayStation unless they were dealt with asap, and all things that Sony showed didn’t actually have to be rushed in to at all.
    The whole thing reeked, and still does, of a desperate attempt to steer the market and tell people what they want, the way politicians move people to act against their own wants.

    I gotta give props to MS, they’ve been doing a lot to change their image and wipe the slate clean but their also building a foundation we know isn’t sustainable forever.
    At least for now, I’m happy for Sony to slowly and carefully build on the foundation we’ve come to know and expect rather than scrambling to fight off phantoms.

    • Can I just add I love that drawing, I’ve always described Sony vs MS vs Nintendo as two kids fighting while the weird ones off to the side.
      (Don’t discount him though because he’s known to knock heads when provoked)

      • Thank you very much! While I finally have all three, I absolutely identify with Nintendo Switch in the back.

  • Aslong as I can carry on playing Kung Fu master, I think Sony will be just fine, just don’t take it off PS NOW! 😭

  • Why does it need to be a balanced competitor? It’s not like Xbox can compete with Sony on their exclusives, not by a long margin. Instead they offer value and quality elsewhere. Each has its unique place.

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