Skip to main content

PlayStation Plus Premium needs a stronger selling point

Sony finally revealed how it’s combining PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now, and the reworked service lines up with exactly what we had heard in leaks. So far, we know PlayStation Plus Premium, the highest tier, will offer access to around 700 games that come from almost every PlayStation platform, but Sony has only revealed a small, underwhelming number of titles for the service. On top of that, PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan already declared that putting new first-party PlayStation titles on the service on day one is “not a road that we’re going to go down with this new service.”

Many fans and industry pundits (myself included) have previously compared PlayStation Plus Premium to Xbox Game Pass. While the services are definitely competing as subscription offerings from major console manufacturers, it’s clear that Sony doesn’t plan to match Microsoft’s offerings one-to-one for the time being. With so many question marks around what games will be included, Sony has yet to give players a strong sales pitch for PlayStation Plus Premium.

Content is king

With game subscription services, content is king. Xbox Game Pass draws eyes because there are plenty of excellent AAA and indie titles available on the service, many of which are on there day one. Microsoft has managed to make Xbox Game Pass a compelling service that many gamers talk about because the games on it are diverse and intriguing. Currently, PlayStation Plus Premium doesn’t elicit that same response.

The PlayStation Plus' logo, which features a giant yellow D-pad, in a white background.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

While most of the games currently on PlayStation Now will presumably be part of PlayStation Plus Premium, the following titles are the only ones to be confirmed for the service so far: 

  • Death Stranding
  • God of War
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
  • Mortal Kombat 11
  • Returnal

We know that PlayStation Plus Premium will contain more than 700 games from “every major publisher,” although no PlayStation-published games will be on the service on day one. The subscription’s library will span the original PlayStation, PS2, PSP, PS3, PS4, and PS5, although many pre-PS4 titles will need to be streamed from the cloud. Currently, PlayStation Plus Premium seems to have too many caveats for a service whose only confirmed games are ones I already own. 

Of course, I’m in a unique position because I’m required to keep up with the video game release frenzy, but PS4 games like Marvel’s Spider-Man and Death Stranding have sold well and even have remastered PS5 versions. As such, their presence on this service might not be a direct appeal to many. The quality of the current and retro titles offered also matters as much as the quantity.

Currently, PlayStation Plus Premium seems to have too many caveats for a service whose only confirmed games are ones I already own.

Unless some PS5 heavy hitters like Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart and Horizon Forbidden West are on the service at — or soon after — launch, my interest won’t be piqued. Returnal’s inclusion is a good sign, but I still need more to go on before I upgrade, and many other PlayStation Plus subscribers will probably be in the same boat. The lower annual price for PlayStation Plus Premium compared to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is appealing, but right now, it’s hard to tell if doubling the cost of my current PlayStation subscription is worth it without a compelling game lineup.

The Disney of gaming

Day one PlayStation Studios games would make PlayStation Plus Premium more compelling for fans, so why doesn’t Sony want to do that? In an interview with, Ryan explains that Sony has a “virtuous cycle with the studios where the investment delivers success, which enables yet more investment, which delivers yet more success.” Currently, Sony believes that putting games on the service could devalue them and mess up that cycle.

“We feel if we were to do that with the games that we make at PlayStation Studios, that virtuous cycle will be broken,” he explained. “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.” 

Selene Vassos from Returnal.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Sony certainly seems worried that its new games would suffer if they were also on PlayStation Plus Premium, but Xbox Game Pass data seems to defy that assumption. Gears 5, Forza Horizon 5, and Halo Infinite all had massive launches on the service. Sarah Bond, Xbox’s game creator experience and ecosystem vice president, explained in a GDC Fireside Chat that “the engagement in a game when it goes into a subscription goes up eight times above where it was before, and members actually spend 50 percent more.”

Sony does not agree with the sentiment that games benefit from being in a subscription service; instead, Ryan sees live-service games as the future of game subscriptions. “I think that trend towards live services will continue, and if you look for a model in our category of entertainment which supports sustained engagement over a long period of time, live-services games arguably fit that bill better than a subscription service,” Ryan told Although Xbox’s data shows that games can still do well as part of a subscription, Sony is likely concerned that individual game releases will feel less important if they are part of a subscription. 

Sony is comparable to Disney in that it wants its hallmark, first-party releases to be exclusive events that people get excited for and talk about before launch, and engage with for months after release. Ryan seems to believe that making these games available on a subscription service will devalue the PlayStation brand, which is an understandable risk to be concerned about when PS5 is currently outselling the new Xbox consoles. Still, the approach makes PlayStation Plus Premium a less compelling service than it could be.

Sam Bridges shoots enemies in a firing range in Death Stranding: Director's Cut.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The service’s appeal will rely on how often it’s updated with new games, especially ones from Sony. Will we be waiting 90 days for new Sony releases? One year? And if there’s a consistent time frame for Sony games coming to service, wouldn’t that play into Ryan’s fears of people not buying games when they come out? Currently, it seems like we’re headed for a situation where MLB The Show 23 is available through Game Pass on day one and not PlayStation Plus Premium, which wouldn’t look good for Sony or this fledgling subscription tier.

While attempting to avoid devaluing the brand of its games, Sony is devaluing what a subscription service from PlayStation could potentially offer. And when content is the most important thing about game subscription services, that is a valid thing to be worried about. It’s hard to gauge how much of a splash the reworked PlayStation Plus will make until a full game library is revealed and the service is in players’ hands.

I’m not ready to upgrade my subscription just yet, as none of the announced games so far speak to my gaming needs. Sony needs some big recent PS5 game releases if it wants PlayStation Plus Premium to grab my attention, but Ryan and PlayStation don’t seem ready to take that step.

Editors' Recommendations

Tomas Franzese
Tomas Franzese is a Staff Writer at Digital Trends, where he reports on and reviews the latest releases and exciting…
PlayStation Plus is getting a major price hike following Game Pass changes
PlayStation Plus art highlighting the essential, extra, and premium tiers.

Sony confirmed that 12-month subscriptions for PlayStation Plus Essential, Extra, and Premium will all see price increases alongside the reveal of September's new Essential games on the PlayStation Blog.
Starting on September 6, 12 months of PS Plus Essential goes up in price from $60 to $80, PS Plus Extra's yearly price increases from $100 to $135, and an annual subscription to PS Plus Premium will rise from $120 to $160. 

Sony says it needs to increase the price of all three versions of PlayStation Plus "to continue bringing high-quality games and value-added benefits to your PlayStation Plus subscription service" and that buying a 12-month subscription is still cheaper than subscribing to any of the shorter-term plans over the same period of time. The price hikes comes just a couple of months after Microsoft raised the price of Xbox Game Pass. 
When it comes to the games PS Plus Essential subscribers can expect this month, first up is Saints Row, a 2022 reboot of an open-world crime franchise that garnered mixed reviews upon its release. Next is Generation Zero, an open-world sci-fi shooter where players fight evil machines. Finally, those who have not already purchased a version of the MMO Black Desert on PS4 can redeem Black Desert - Traveler Edition, which comes with some additional items; if you have bought a version of Black Desert, you can just redeem the Traveler Item Pack.

Read more
Sony’s cloud handheld, the PlayStation Portal, will only stream certain games
Astro's Playroom booting up on the PlayStation Portal.

Sony has unveiled the price for its upcoming cloud gaming handheld, as well as an official name for the device: PlayStation Portal. However, one significant caveat to its functionality might sour people's interest in the handheld: It only supports PS4 and PS5 native games that the owner purchased.
PlayStation VR2 games can't be streamed to PlayStation Portal, which does make sense. More bafflingly, though, is the fact that the PlayStation Blog post states that "games that are streamed through PlayStation Plus Premium’s cloud streaming are not supported." That means you shouldn't pick up PlayStation Portal expecting to stream some PS3 and PS4 games available through PlayStation Plus Premium to the device. That's certainly an odd omission when it's currently PlayStation's most notable cloud gaming effort.
Although Microsoft is more closely associated with cloud gaming, Sony beat it to releasing a dedicated cloud gaming device. PlayStation Portal was first teased as Project Q during May's PlayStation showcase, but now, a PlayStation Blog post more clearly explains what we can actually expect from the handheld. Most importantly, we learned that PlayStation Portal will cost $200, which puts it underneath the cost of a Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series S, and other cloud gaming devices like the Logitech G Cloud Handheld.
As for what you're getting for that price tag, it's essentially a decent screen attached to two halves of a DualSense controller. The controllers on each side share all the functionality of the DualSense, including things like haptic feedback and adaptive triggers. In-between is an 8-inch LCD screen that streams games over Wi-Fi at up to a 1080p resolution and 60 frames per second. All in all, that's fairly solid for a cloud gaming handheld that is this cheap.
Sony confirmed that the PlayStation Portal will have a 3.5mm audio jack, but also used the same blog post to unveil two new wireless audio options. There's the Pulse Elite wireless headset that features a retractable boom mic and a charging hanger and Pulse Explore wireless earbuds that offer similar audio quality in earbud form.
None of these products are available for preorder or have a specific release date just yet, but they are all expected to launch before the end of the year.

Read more
The most exciting PlayStation Showcase trailers you shouldn’t miss
A planet floats in the sky in Marathon.

Sony returned to its long-form PlayStation Showcase format today with an hourlong reveal stream showing off what's next for the PlayStation 5. The stream was filled with plenty of exciting announcements, from a remake of Metal Gear Solid Delta: Snake Eater to a spectacular Marvel's Spider-Man 2 trailer. Those were just a few of the games shown off during the stream though, which was packed with trailers.

There was a lot to see and no one would blame you if you missed a few things during the hour. From astonishing indie games from celebrated studios to a mysterious new project from Bungie, these are the trailers you need to catch up on if you missed the show.
Marvel's Spider-Man 2
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 | Gameplay Reveal

Read more