Mar 29, 2022 - Technology

Sony announces new PlayStation subscription plans

Returnal. Screenshot: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Sony PlayStation users will be able to subscribe to a single, multi-tiered gaming service beginning in June, all branded as PlayStation Plus, the gaming giant said today, confirming prior reporting.

Why it matters: Sony is trying to sweeten its subscription offerings as its chief gaming competitors continue to bolster their own plans.

The details: Sony is combining its popular PlayStation Plus, which has 48 million subscribers, and its poorly adopted PlayStation Now classic gaming plan.

  • PS Plus will become PlayStation Plus Essential, continuing to provide access to multiplayer gaming, two free games a month and cloud storage for saved games. Price: $10/month or $60/year.
  • A new PlayStation Plus Extra tier will also offer access to 400 or so downloadable PS4 and PS5 games. Price: $15/month or $100/year.
  • A PlayStation Plus Premium tier adds in access to an additional 340+ games from PS1, PS2, PS3 (via streaming) and the PlayStation Portable. Also supports streaming games from those platforms and PS4 to PC, PS4 and PS5. Price: $18/month or $120/year.

Between the lines: Some will view this as Sony trying to answer Microsoft's Game Pass plan, but Sony is largely repackaging what it's already been doing.

  • PlayStation Now currently offers close to 1,000 games from prior systems, all via streaming and some via download, too.
  • Sony hasn't included its new releases in Plus or Now. PlayStation boss Jim Ryan told that the new plans won't currently do that, either, arguing it would hurt revenue, which could hurt game quality. ("The level of investment that we need to make in our studios would not be possible.")
  • By contrast, Microsoft's Game Pass plan ($10/month; no annual discount) offers hundreds of games across multiple Xbox generations, including any new game Microsoft publishes.
  • In other words, Microsoft's next blockbusters are part of its main subscription plan. Sony's will continue to not be.

The big picture: Subscription plans for libraries of games don't dominate their sector the way movie and music ones do, but the biggest players in the industry have clearly bet on them as an essential part of the business going forward.

  • Even Nintendo is at it, in its own Nintendo way (mostly retro games, add-ons to hot Switch games and the occasional subscriber-only game).

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