More than a month after unveiling the revamped version of PlayStation Plus, Sony has shared the first batch of games heading to its new service, from original PlayStation classics and PlayStation Portable titles to modern hits. The new PlayStation Plus has three tiers, each at a discreet price and with different tiers of goodies, and it’s all set to go live in America on June 13.
Now that we know which games will be included in each tier – PlayStation Plus Essential, Extra, and Premium – it’s easier to directly compare Sony’s service to that of its closest competitor, Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass.
The new PlayStation Plus
Sony’s subscription service is segmented into three parts, with different games and features available depending on how much you pay. PS Plus Essential costs $10 a month or $60 a year, and it’s basically the Plus we know today, with two games to download each month, access to online multiplayer features, cloud storage, and discounts.
PS Plus Extra costs $15 per month or $100 per year and offers everything in the Essential tier plus a library of up to 400 downloadable PS4 and PS5 games.
The last option, PS Plus Premium, costs $18 per month or $120 per year, adding up to 340 games from the original PlayStation, PS2, PSP, PS3, and PS4 eras. This is also where streaming comes into play: Sony is folding its existing cloud service, PlayStation Now, into the new Plus ecosystem, but only at the most expensive tier. Premium adds the ability to play a selection of PS3 titles from the cloud and stream or download lower-end games from the original PlayStation, PS2, PSP and PS4 eras (cloud play is only available in areas where PS now already live). Streaming works on PS4, PS5 and PC, while native cloud gaming on mobile devices is not possible on Sony’s network.
Now the games. Sony has confirmed just over 100 titles headed to PS Plus Extra and Premium, including Demon’s Souls, Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut, Horizon Zero Dawn, The Last of Us Remastered, Gravity Rush Remastered, The Last Guardian, Tokyo Jungle, Ico, Tekken 2, Asura’s Wrath, Ape Escape and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. The latter game has been listed as part of a deal to offer several dozen Ubisoft+ Classics games to Extra and Premium subscribers.
Most of the games on Sony’s list are from the PS4 and PS5 generations, which is good news for Extra subscribers. However, Sony’s first lineup of old-school games feels meager, even though they’re a crucial feature of the Premium tier. The focus is on PS3 games, with 29 available to stream, and relatively few titles from earlier eras. While there are some PS4 remasters of PS2 games on the list, including Rogue Galaxy and the Jak and Daxter series, Sony’s service has no original PS2 games as of yet.
There’s still hope for nostalgia seekers — Sony said the classic games list is an “early look at a selection of games that will be available,” so there should be more to come.
Don’t look to PS Plus for new, blockbuster Sony games, though. PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan told gamesindustry.biz in March that new, first-party titles won’t reach PS Plus on day one, meaning subscribers will have to pay for them separately. This is notable because Microsoft has gone to great lengths to offer its own titles to Game Pass subscribers at launch.
Ryan said his stance on the initial drops could change, but don’t expect titles like Spider-Man 2 or God of War Ragnarök on PS Plus at any level for now.
Xbox Game Pass
On the surface, Game Pass has been a successful venture for Microsoft, with 25 million monthly subscribers and still growing. Game Pass unlocks access to a large library of games old and new, including the first releases of first-party titles such as Halo: Infinite and Starfield (eventually); it works on Xbox consoles and PCs, and it includes cloud features that make the included games playable on mobile devices.
The Game Pass library has about 300 games, even though Microsoft continues to market the service with a low rating of “over 100” titles. The lineup includes the original Xbox up to the current generation, and the main tier adds Xbox Live Gold and access to EA Play. Game Pass has heavy players like Halo: The Master Chief Collection and Halo: Infinite, the original Doom and its modern successors, Forza Horizon 5, Mass Effect Legendary Edition and Microsoft Flight Simulator, as well as indie games like A Memoir Blue, Kentucky Route Zero, Outer Wilds, Death’s Door and Spelunky 2.
Microsoft alone has access to some of these games because it owns a significant chunk of the video game industry. Xbox Game Studios consists of 23 development teams, including id Software, Bethesda Softworks, Arkane, Ninja Theory, Playground Games, Double Fine and Mojang. All this ensures that Game Pass has a bank of exclusive offers to draw from – in practice PS Plus won’t get games from these studios unless Microsoft allows it. The reverse is also true for Sony’s exclusive offerings, but Microsoft simply has more to work with in this regard.
Game Pass has PC and console only tiers that include access to the library and not much more, and they cost $10 a month each. Neither option includes cloud gaming or Xbox Live Gold, which is necessary to play some titles online and only costs $10 a month. Microsoft isn’t doing much to market these standalone tiers, but is sending players to Game Pass Ultimate, the main focus of the Xbox subscription scheme.
Game Pass Ultimate costs $15 per month and offers Xbox Live Gold, cloud gaming features, and access to every game in the console and PC lineup. This is the all-inclusive option, working on Xbox consoles, PCs and mobile devices via the cloud.
PS Plus vs Game Pass
There are a few notable differences between the new PS Plus and Game Pass. Sony’s subscription has fewer games (for now), it doesn’t include mobile streaming, and it doesn’t offer day-one access to new first-party titles, meaning serious PlayStation fans will have to pay for these big drops separately.
In terms of pricing, let’s focus on the highest tiers: PS Plus Premium costs $18 per month or $120 per year, and Game Pass Ultimate costs $15 per month. The costs are similar, but at the most flexible price point, Sony’s subscription is $3 per month more than Microsoft’s. That’s an additional payment of $36 per year. However, PS Plus Premium is $60 less than Game Pass Ultimate annually.
Of course, cost isn’t the only consideration here. With competing subscription services, Sony and Microsoft are doubling down on exclusive offerings as a major source of momentum, and maintaining a rich and unique library will be key to the success of these plans. Xbox may have more than 20 studios, but Sony can still deliver games that Microsoft can’t, and titles like Demon’s Souls, Gravity Rush Remastered, Tokyo Jungle, Ico, and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla are a big draw for longtime PlayStation fans.
That said, the decision not to include first-party games day-one in PS Plus could lose Sony subscribers and some goodwill. The new PS Plus also seems to be missing some meat in its classics catalog, a move that could turn off potential Premium subscribers, but Sony is just getting started and there’s plenty of room to grow. That is, if Jim Ryan and his team see the value of adding content to the service.
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