Forget “Netflix for games” for a sec. The conversation to watch this week is “Hulu for games.” Yes, Sony has finally lifted the curtain on its eagerly anticipated overhaul of PS Plus and PS Now, formerly known under the code name “Spartacus.” The new service has three tiers, with the third and most expensive at $US100 ($139) a year letting subscribers play PS1, PS2, PS3, and PSP games from Sony’s back catalogue.
Here are the details via a new PlayStation Blog post:
PlayStation Plus Essential
- Provides the same benefits that PlayStation Plus members are getting today, such as: Two monthly downloadable games, exclusive discounts, cloud storage for saved games, online multiplayer access.
- There are no changes for existing PlayStation Plus members in this tier.
- Price: $US9.99 ($14) monthly / $US24.99 ($35) quarterly / $US59.99 ($83) yearly
PlayStation Plus Extra
- Provides all the benefits from the Essential tier
- Adds a catalog of up to 400* of the most enjoyable PS4 and PS5 games – including blockbuster hits from our PlayStation Studios catalog and third-party partners. Games in the Extra tier are downloadable for play.
- Price: $14.99 ($20) monthly / $39.99 ($55) quarterly / $99.99 ($135) yearly
PlayStation Plus Premium**
- Provides all the benefits from Essential and Extra tiers
- Adds up to 340* additional games, including: PS3 games available via cloud streaming. A catalogue of beloved classic games available in both streaming and download options from the original PlayStation, PS2 and PSP generations
- Offers cloud streaming access for original PlayStation, PS2, PSP and PS4 games offered in the Extra and Premium tiers in markets** where PlayStation Now is currently available.
- Customers can stream games using PS4 and PS5 consoles, and PC.*** Time-limited game trials will also be offered in this tier, so customers can try select games before they buy.
- Price: $US17.99 ($25) monthly / $US49.99 ($69) quarterly / $US119.99 ($167) yearly
PlayStation Plus Deluxe (Select Markets, Including Australia)
- For markets without cloud streaming, PlayStation Plus Deluxe will be offered at a lower price compared to Premium, and includes a catalog of beloved classic games from the original PlayStation, PS2 and PSP generations to download and play, along with time-limited game trials. Benefits from Essential and Extra tiers are also included. Local pricing will vary by market.
The new service will roll out on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 in the first half of 2022. The service will also include the following games when it launches: Death Stranding, God of War, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Mortal Kombat 11, and Returnal.
Essentially the new PS Plus combines the best aspects of Sony’s other two subscription programs, PS Plus and PS Now. It’s an answer to Game Pass, Microsoft’s immensely popular games-on-demand subscription for Xbox and PC. Like Game Pass, Sony’s new service is available at various price points, with more expensive tiers offering better perks. In December, Bloomberg first reported the existence of the service, which was then codenamed “Spartacus.”
The idea was to merge PlayStation’s subscriptions under one tidy umbrella, marrying the games-on-demand library of PS Now with the free monthly games of PS Plus. It will also give access to game demos, a rapidly fading relic in the era of digital ownership. Last week, though, Bloomberg additionally reported that first-party exclusive games, like the forthcoming God of War Ragnarök, wouldn’t be available as day-one releases on the service. That’s a stark contrast to a key selling point for Game Pass: Microsoft releases all first-party games, like Halo Infinite and Forza Horizon 5 immediately upon launch. As far as business moves go, Sony’s is an errant line of dialogue from Pirates of the Caribbean.
In a new interview with GamesIndustry.biz, head of Sony Interactive4 Entertainment, Jim Ryan, confirmed the new PS Plus will not regularly be getting first-party Sony games on launch day.
First-party PlayStation games already fly off the shelves; there’s no reason to put them on a subscription that’ll likely pick up a user base at similar pace, if only for the novelty. To be sure, PS Now technically beat Game Pass to the punch by years in terms of offering a library of hundreds of games and offering those games via cloud streaming. But confusing messaging plus a weird rental rate — you had to pay for a set number of hours or days of access to specific games — turned players off. Even though Sony eventually pivoted the pricing scheme to a more standard monthly membership, the damage was done. It never came close to attaining the industry-shifting numbers of the so-called “Netflix for Games,” which Microsoft recently said has more than 25 million subscribers.