PlayStation finally announced its answer to Xbox Game Pass today, and while it looks like a decent treat for those who are looking for a new way of accessing games from Sony’s older eras, it’s already being criticized for missing one of the competition’s greatest perks: day-one titles. Unlike Xbox Game Pass, none of the new PlayStation Plus tiers, which include the pricier “Extra” and “Premium” memberships, offer the joy of being able to play Sony’s first-party titles on the day they hit retail at a cheap, monthly price.
And why the heck not? PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan has attempted to give a reason for that in an interview with GamesIndustry.biz, explaining that the quality of PlayStation Studios’ games could suffer if they were released day one onto PS Plus. The implication seems to be that Sony wouldn’t be enjoying a similar level of profit if it were to follow in Microsoft’s generous footsteps of offering blockbuster games on its service on the day of release.
“We feel like we are in a good virtuous cycle with the studios,” Ryan explained, “where the investment delivers success, which enables yet more investment, which delivers yet more success. We like that cycle and we think our gamers like that cycle.”
“[In terms of] putting our own games into this service, or any of our services, upon their release… as you well know, this is not a road that we’ve gone down in the past,” the executive said. “And it’s not a road that we’re going to go down with this new service. We feel if we were to do that with the games that we make at PlayStation Studios, that virtuous cycle will be broken. The level of investment that we need to make in our studios would not be possible, and we think the knock-on effect on the quality of the games that we make would not be something that gamers want.”
This is probably the same reason why PlayStation has zero intention of releasing the PC ports of its first-party titles simultaneously alongside the console versions, a decision that’s been maddening for those who want to jump into a release early to avoid spoilers but have to stomach horrible FOVs and other console deficiencies. That said, Ryan has clarified that PlayStation’s position could change in the future.
“The way the world is changing so very quickly at the moment, nothing is forever,” he explained. “Who would have said even four years ago that you would see AAA PlayStation IP being published on PC? We started that last year with Horizon Zero Dawn, then Days Gone, and now God of War — a hugely polished and accomplished PC version of that game. [We’ve had] great critical success and great commercial success, and everybody has made their peace with that happening and is completely at ease with it. I look back four years and think nobody would have seen that coming.”
“So I don’t want to cast anything in stone at this stage. All I’m talking to today is the approach we’re taking in the short term. The way our publishing model works right now, it doesn’t make any sense. But things can change very quickly in this industry, as we all know.”
PlayStation’s Jim Ryan: Our games could suffer if they went straight into PS Plus (GamesIndustry.biz)
Sony’s new PS Plus subscription offerings boast online multiplayer access, hundreds of PS4 and PS5 games, streaming, retro titles and game trials. But what it doesn’t include, unlike its main competitor, are new first-party games that launch in the service at the same time as they come out at retail.
Ryan’s view on this isn’t unique to Sony. Most AAA publishers are reluctant to put their most recent games into subscription services. The counter argument is that by putting your latest titles into PS Plus or Xbox Game Pass, you’re potentially widening your audience. Overnight, your new release could have tens of millions of players, and if your game has other forms of monetisation in it, then the revenue potential is significant.
Looking at pricing generally, there are three tiers to PS Plus. PS Plus Essentials is identical to PS Plus today and is priced the same ($10 a month), PS Plus Extra adds in a library of PS4 and PS5 games ($15 a month), whereas PS Plus Premium includes all that plus game trials, game streaming and a collection of PS1, PS2, PS3 and PSP games ($18).