This morning, Sony finally unveiled its game-on-demand service in a blog post with more asterisks than the lease of your first apartment. It’s a revamp of PS Plus called… [drum roll] wait for it… [another drum roll] PS Plus.
According to details first reported by Bloomberg, PS Plus 2.0 – yes, that’s what I’m going to call it – essentially merges Sony’s two subscription services, PS Plus and PS Now, into one easy-to-digest package. At first glance, the new and improved service seems like an obvious response to Game pass, Microsoft’s game-on-demand service currently subscribed to by more than 25 million people. Both offer access to hundreds of games. Both are available as monthly subscriptions. Both have options that allow you to stream games.
But the two deviate enough in detail and approach that this isn’t a one-on-one comparison. If Game Pass is “Netflix for games,” as people so often like to say, Sony’s offering is more like, say, “Hulu for games.” Let’s break it down.
How much does PS Plus cost compared to Game Pass?
PS Plus is available in four tiers. There’s PS Plus Essential, basically unchanged from the current service, for $10 a month or $60 a year. PS Plus Extra costs $15 per month or $100 per year and adds a library of PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 games. PS Plus Premium costs $18 per month or $120 per year and adds games from previous PlayStation generations, as well as game demos. Finally, geographies that don’t allow game streaming can sign up for PS Plus Deluxe, which sony says will cost a “lower price” than Premium and will exclude PS3 games. (Exact pricing is pending. Sony did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.)
Game Pass, meanwhile, is available in two levels. The base tier, available on Xbox or PC, is $10 and provides access to a library of Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC games. The top tier, Game Pass Ultimate, costs $15 per month and bundles the two together along with a number of other perks. There is currently no (official) option to buy an annual subscription in advance, although you can sometimes find a three-month card through third-party resellers. But Microsoft, seemingly confident in Game Pass’s retention rate, only charges $1 for the first month.
So it’s easy to look at these prices and immediately balk at Sony’s top tier. Yes, $18 is more expensive than the current Game Pass Ultimate price of $15. But by that same metric, the annual cost of PS Plus Premium ($120) is significantly cheaper than Ultimate ($180). If you know you’re planning on a long-term subscription, Sony’s service already looks a bit more attractive.
What games do you get on PS Plus vs Game Pass?
Of course, any game-on-demand service can succeed because of its library. Game Pass, according to its latest update, offers around 450 games, of which around 350 are playable on PC. You can download any game from the library on Xbox or PC and stream around 100 games on compatible devices, including phones.
In comparison, the PS Plus library is a bit more confusing. At launch, PS Plus Extra will include 400 PS4 and PS5 games, anchored by marquees like Death Stranding, God of the war, Marvel’s Spiderman, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Mortal Kombat 11and Return. PS5 owners will note, by the way, how some of these games overlap with the offerings made available through PS Plus collection, which makes 20 of the best-selling PS4 games available to PS Plus-owning PS5 subscribers at no additional cost. Whether or not the PS Plus 2.0 rollout will have any effect on this particular perk is unclear. Sony did not respond to a request for comment.
PS Plus Premium membership adds an additional 340 games from the PlayStation 1, PlayStation 2, PSP, and PlayStation 3 libraries. You can download PS1, PS2, PS4, PS5, and PSP games, and stream some as well, but you can’t download ps3 games. You can only stream these. Fundamentally, it’s ps now.
There is also a noticeable difference in how each service handles their respective exclusive games. Xbox puts out first-party games – everything from smash hits like Infinite Halo and Forza Horizon 5 to upcoming blockbusters star field and red fall—on Game Pass at launch. For PS Plus, however, Sony won’t be adopting this strategy, at least not in the short term. PlayStation boss Jim Ryan said: in a recent interview, there’s almost no reason to do so, as it could devalue the prestige status of games produced by the company’s in-house studios. Sony proprietary games like Forbidden Horizon West and God of the war already tearing up the charts and winning over fans and critics; they don’t need the extra attention of a subscription service. In other words, don’t expect to see God of War Ragnarök Coming soon to PS Plus.
There’s a lot of hay about how PS Plus 2.0 is positioned as a counter-game, and while such comparisons are fair, I’m not entirely convinced they capture the full picture. Yes, both services basically do the same thing (offer a bunch of easy-to-access games for a monthly subscription). They’re similar enough that it’s worth looking at the broader traits in which they’re distinct (Sony’s service may get cheaper every year, but it lacks Game Pass’ best feature: first-party exclusives). day). It’s also fun to play “for and against”.
But such mental exercises conveniently obscure the fact that Sony doesn’t need to directly compete with Game Pass. Its proprietary games are doing very well. And they also have legs: Horizon Zero Dawnwhich came to PC three years after its exclusive PS4 release, has sold over 20 million copies, largely thanks to its PC port.
For me, today’s big advantage has nothing to do with competing corporate giants. Rather, it’s that the era of subscription services – which has shaken up the film, music and TV industries over the past decade – is officially here for games now too. And it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.