In an early-morning post on the PlayStation Blog, Sony officially revealed the rumored Project Spartacus, its competitor to Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass subscription service. It doesn’t actually have that name though. Instead, it’s an expansion of Sony’s existing PlayStation Plus online subscription service, which has been divvied up into three tiers.
All-new PlayStation Plus launches in June with three flexible membership options.
— PlayStation (@PlayStation) March 29, 2022
Starting this June, Sony will start rolling out PlayStation Plus Essential, PlayStation Plus Extra, and PlayStation Plus Premium. The most basic of those tiers, Essential, is the same PlayStation Plus that subscribers know today. It costs $60 a year, offers some discounts, two free games a month, and all the other standard goodies players have come to expect. Extra, which costs $100 a year, combines those services with access to a catalog of up to 400 PS4 and PS5 games, which includes releases from first-party PlayStation developers.
While a full list of games that players will get access to has not been revealed, Sony shared that Death Stranding, God of War, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Mortal Kombat 11, and Returnal will all be included.
PlayStation Plus Premium is where users will find a majority of Sony’s new offerings. For $120 a year, users get the benefits of the previous two tiers along with an extra 340 PS1, PS2, PS3, and PSP games, though they aren’t all accessed the same way. PS3 games will only be available via cloud streaming while PS1, PS2, and PSP games will have both streaming and download options. Subscribers to this tier of PlayStation Plus will be able to stream games to their PS4, PS5, and PC.
Notably, PlayStation Now subscribers will have their accounts folded into PlayStation Plus Premium when the service launches, without any initial price change.
Stacked up against Xbox Game Pass — specifically its Ultimate tier — PlayStation Plus Premium isn’t always going blow for blow. While a yearly membership to PlayStation Plus Platinum costs much less than a year of Game Pass Ultimate ($120 for Platinum and $166 for Ultimate), it doesn’t give players easy access to nearly as much content. PS3 games being available exclusively through cloud streaming is a standout here, especially when games released on every other PlayStation console can either be streamed or downloaded.
However, the biggest deal-breaker here is that first-party PlayStation games won’t be released directly onto any of PlayStation Plus, a feature that Game Pass users enjoy often. According to an interview with PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan, that won’t be changing either. In an interview with GamesIndustry.biz, Ryan said that releasing directly onto the subscription service would, in fact, hurt the platform’s first-party games. “We feel like we are in a good virtuous cycle with the studios where the investment delivers success, which enables yet more investment, which delivers yet more success,” said Ryan. “We like that cycle and we think our gamers like that cycle.”
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