What do you think of the new PlayStation Plus, and is it better than Xbox Game Pass?
After months of rumours, Sony have finally unveiled their answer to Xbox Game Pass today. Starting this June, their new subscription service will unite PlayStation Plus and their cloud streaming platform PlayStation Now under one roof, offering three different tiers of membership. Most of it isn’t that relevant to us on PC, but the final, most expensive tier, PlayStation Plus Premium, will include that aforementioned cloud streaming to PC, letting us play hundreds of PS1, PS2, PS3, PS4 and PSP games without having to own an actual PlayStation.
It’s not yet clear how that library of games will differ from the current PlayStation Now library, but one thing is certain: this is a move that definitely benefits people with a PlayStation and a PC more than it does standalone PC peeps. And yet, even as someone who falls into the former camp of PlayStation and PC owners, I’m still not sure this new PS+ is something I actually want. Sure, there’s that massive retro collection on offer, but no Day One games I can either play on my console or stream to PC? On your bike, Sony. Personally, I see this as more of a dip-in and dip-out kinda deal to indulge my occasional retro cravings, but I’m keen to know what you, RPS readers, think of this new PS Plus offering as well. Does it appeal in any shape or form? And how does it compare to Game Pass for you? Let’s chat about it below.
One interesting thing that really stood out to me in our sister site GamesIndustry.Biz’s interview with PlayStation head honcho Jim Ryan today is the idea that putting new PS5 games on PS Plus on Day One like Game Pass currently does would actually be harmful to Sony and PlayStation in the long-run.
“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,” Ryan said.
I’ll admit, there’s a certain sheen to first-party PlayStation games that maybe isn’t quite as apparent in their Xbox counterparts. Maybe it’s the fact that Sony’s gone big on sumptuous, cinematic single-player games this generation, whereas a lot of Microsoft’s first-party fare has been a bit more 7-8/10, while also leaning into the economies that come with a greater multiplayer focus. For instance, if we disregard Game Pass for a minute, I’d struggle to think of a single game you should definitely buy an Xbox Series X for, but there’s a good handful of Sony exclusives I’d say are worth performing the ongoing blood sacrifice required to get a PS5.
Equally, though, it’s not like Xbox’s first-party games are all stinkers in the quality department. If the likes of Halo Infinite, Forza Horizon 5, Psychonauts 2 and Age Of Empires IV can all exist on the service (some of the best-looking games of the last year, in my books), then I’m not sure Ryan’s quality argument really holds up that much. I’m also a lot more likely to try these games than I am shelling out £70 (SEVENTY POUNDS!) for something I’m not actually that sure about. Of course, no one’s really sure about how the economics of Game Pass actually work, or whether it’ll suffer the almost inevitable Netflix price bloat once it’s got a few more years under its belt. I’ll likely have to reassess my relationship with Game Pass if that happens, but right now, I’m happy to keep the Xbox games rolling.
The key difference, I think, is that Game Pass is a service that’s brilliant for PC owners, regardless of whether they own an Xbox or not. You still get all the first-party Xbox games, Day One, plus Microsoft’s rolling library of retro games. The new PlayStation Plus, however, just seems to be designed to benefit existing PlayStation owners, giving you a stonking retro library to dig into (although still no word on whether you’ll have to re-buy games you already own just yet – another win for Xbox’s back compat scheme, methinks), and the ability to play some slightly newer ones you might not have got round to buying yet (maybe because they all cost 70 damn pounds). It does not seem to be designed to draw in that standalone PC audience, which in many ways is fair and understandable given Sony don’t have the same close ties with PC as Microsoft have historically done.
At the same time, though, some concessions would have been nice. Yes, existing PlayStation Now members won’t see any increase to their current subs fees “at launch” when the merge happens, but goodness knows how long that honeymoon period will last right now. As Alice0 pointed out in her news post earlier, PS Now currently costs £9/month and £50/year, but streaming games via PS Plus Premium will cost £13.49/month and £100/year. That’s twice the price for a yearly sub, with a bunch of extras that PC people can’t use unless they also have a console.
I’m still keen to see exactly what games Sony have in mind for their new PlayStation Plus service, but right now my gut feeling is that it’s going to be a hard pass from me. To borrow an eternal quote from Psychonauts 2, it is only:
But enough of my waffle. What’s your take on the PlayStation Plus overhaul? Have I missed some obvious excellent point that actually means I should give it a second chance? Tell us about it in the comments below.