Sony’s new game pass will affect how we stream PlayStation games on PC
Sony today announced they’re overhauling PlayStation Now, their subscription service which lets us play some older PlayStation games on PC via cloud gaming. They’re merging it with their PlayStation Plus service and adding a giant library of games as some sort of multi-tiered mega-Game Pass doodad. It’s not clear how exactly this will change things for people who are already using PS Now to play PlayStation games on PC, but it sounds like maaaybe they’ll add Marvel’s Spider-Man, at least? For now, they’re vague about the whole thing.
Sony’s announcement explains they’re merging PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now into one service with three tiers. PS Plus is currently the subscription service which offers access to online multiplayer (yes, in the year of our Molyneux 2022, you have to pay for that) plus a rolling selection of ‘free’ games, while PS Now is the cloud gaming service which lets you play a selection of games without downloading them or even having a PlayStation. PS Now is how you can play games like Bloodborne on PC right now (albeit in murky, laggy, vaporous form).
The big change is that the higher Plus tiers will include access to libraries of games from across decades of PlayStation consoles, basically making it more like Microsoft’s Game Pass.
The highest new tier, PlayStation Plus Premium, is the only one which matters to us here on PC. Premium includes access to cloud gaming, making it a replacement for PlayStation Now. For a fee of £13.49 monthly, £39.99 quarterly, or £99.99 annually (that’s $17.99/$49.99/$119.99 in USD, or €16.99/€49.99/€119.99), Plus Premium will offer cloud streaming access to a library of hundreds of PlayStation 4, PS3, PS2, PSone, and PSP games. While the Plus library includes some PlayStation 5 games, those are not available for streaming, and so not for us.
It’s not currently clear which games will be available to stream on PC, nor how this PS Plus Premium library will be different from the current PlayStation Now catalogue. Sony’s main focus today was clearly consoles. They haven’t listed the games that will be available for streaming on PC. They’ve barely mentioned any games at all.
The only games confirmed for the new PS Plus are Death Stranding, God Of War, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Mortal Kombat 11, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, and Returnal. That last one is a PlayStation 5 exclusive, so it wouldn’t be available on PC through cloud gaming. The rest, well, I hope so? Would be nice to have Spider-Man?
If the streaming library isn’t significantly improved, this might be a bum deal for people currently paying Sony to stream PlayStation games on PC. While Sony say that “PlayStation Now customers will migrate over to PlayStation Plus Premium with no increase to their current subscription fees at launch,” it’s not clear how long that will last—”at launch” could mean only temporarily. Given that PS Now costs half as much as Plus Premium (£9 a month, £50 a year), paying full price for PS Plus Premium could be distinctly less appealing if you don’t own a console to use the other benefits.
Hopefully as the relaunch nears, Sony will start to talk PC specifics. They plan to start the PS Plus changeover in June in Asia, followed by North America, Europe, and other places with PSN, hoping to have changed over in most territories by the end of the first half of 2022. They’re looking to start offering cloud streaming in more countries, too.
And hopefully they’ll announce a proper PC release for Bloodborne one day, sheesh. As they cautiously release older games on PC (God Of War just came out in January), the next game confirmed is Uncharted 4 with its expansion. But yes, Bloodborne after that, please.
If you do have a PlayStation, by the way, you might want to read GamesIndustry.biz’s interview with the CEO of PlayStation. While Microsoft put their new games on Game Pass on launch day, Sony will not. They think their first-party games might suffer for it. PlayMan Jim Ryan said, “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.”