Last year in the scant availability of next-gen consoles, I found a bit of relief in XBOX Game Pass PC to be able to still play newer games as well as day one titles. And while Sony had PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now, the combination, well, it just wasn’t as good.
After long rumors of a Sony service to rival Microsoft’s Game Pass service tiers, today we finally get to see some progress. On PlayStation.blog, SIE prez Jim Ryan laid out the details of the new service launching in June, which rolls PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now together for… the all-new, uh, PlayStation Plus. So while no longer having to subscribe to two services to get the most out of a Sony-based subscription, what are the new options and benefits?
PlayStation Plus Essential
This is the same level as the current PlayStation Plus, and will come in at the same monthly $9.99 like the current offering ($24.99 quarterly, $59.99 yearly). Here’s what Essentials gets you:
- Two monthly downloadable games
- Exclusive discounts
- Cloud storage for saved games
- Online multiplayer access
If you currently have a PS Plus subscription, it will be rolled into the Plus Essential plan this summer at the same rate.
PlayStation Plus Extra
Extra adds more content to the Essential subscription from PS4 and PS5, and adds the ability to download games. Those perks come in at $14.99 per month ($39.99 quarterly / $99.99 yearly).
- 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.
PlayStation Plus Premium
Extra still isn’t where some folks need to be. Up to the Extra tier the benefits are purely console, without any PC love. For that, you’re going to have to bump up to PlayStation Plus Premium. This top tier is priced at $17.99 monthly ($49.99 quarterly / $119.99 yearly). Here’s what that adds:
- Provides all the benefits from Essential and Extra tiers
- Adds up to 340 additional games, including:
- PS3 games available via cloud streaming
- A catalog 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.
Current PS Now subscribers will be migrated to Premium this summer at the same rate.
Now the fine print – “where PlayStation Now is currently available” means US, Canada, Japan, UK, France, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Austria, Switzerland, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Sweden. Also, PC streaming will not be available in Japan, but will be supported in future updates.
So… well now what?
With XBOX Game Pass’s “ultimate” top tier service, gamers shell out about $180 per year which provides service not just for console and PC, but game streaming for Android and iOS as well. If players don’t need mobile and are using either console or PC exclusively then they have cheaper options. In all options they’re entitled to “day one” titles as well.
Sony’s new PlayStation Plus, at the top Premium tier, maxes out $120 per year. While this doesn’t give access to mobile streaming, it does cover both console and PC, with a real focus on gamers who still want to enjoy retro gaming, stretching all the way back to PS2 titles for stream and download. It’s a pretty decent price when you factor in the two free games per month for keeps in the Essentials tier.
Looks pretty good to us. We do have a Game Pass Ultimate subscription, but to be honest the mobile gaming feels like a novelty, and we’re soon downgrading to Game Pass PC. This combination of PlayStation Plus and Now injects some life into the mildly anemic service before on the Sony side, and I’m happy to see Sony get competitive for PC gamers.
But now, the downside
In an interview with GamesIndustry.biz, Jim Ryan unfortunately makes it clear that first-party titles from Sony Studios are not included in any of these services, giving it a real hit against XBOX Game Pass as far as direct head to head competition.
“We feel like we are in a good virtuous cycle with the studios,” he said, “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.”
That cycle… very virtuous.
From a business view it does make sense – releasing titles day one to subscription services can potentially be a huge revenue hit when the value of a sale gets absorbed into an existing subscription revenue stream. But what some gamers may take issue with is the combination of this news along with the price hike of first-party PS5 titles like Horizon: Forbidden West and God of War: Ragnarok to $69.99. So it’s kind of short term / long term thing we’ll see the effects of as 2022 progresses.
He does go on in the interview to add “The way the world is changing so very quickly at the moment, nothing is forever,” so you never know.
Overall, if you’re already a PS Plus or PS Now subscriber, nothing changes. You’ll be rolled over to the new PS Plus services this summer. Among the options available the real value we see is with the Premium tier. The Extra tier does add some content over the Essentials, but at $100 bucks a year, why not go whole hog for an additional $20 and get PC support with some retro options?
So there you have it – the new options from Sony to maximize your PlayStation fix. We’ll start with Premium and play around with what is best for us, and hopefully this lets you choose what’s best for you.