PlayStation planning to roll out bundled subscription service similar to Xbox Game Pass
The three-tiered service scheduled to launch next springBy Cal Jeffrey 18 comments
Rumor mill: Netflix-style gaming may be coming to the PlayStation 5 next year. News has leaked that Sony plans to merge PlayStation Plus and PS Now subscriptions into one service. The move could be an attempt to become more competitive with Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.
In an apparent attempt to compete with Xbox Game Pass, Sony plans to launch a similar subscription service next year. According to anonymous PlayStation insiders speaking with Bloomberg, the service, codenamed "Spartacus," will bundle PlayStation Plus with PS Now.
Currently, the two services offer different features. PlayStation Plus is $60 per year (or $9 per month) and gives subscribers discounts, and a collection of free games with at least two new titles added every month. It also allows online multiplayer gaming.
Sony's PS Now is its cloud gaming service with the same rates as PlayStation Plus. It was first launched in 2014 with game streaming as its only option and at the time playing from the cloud, even with a very high-speed connection, was hardly worth the subscription price. Since then, Sony has vastly improved the streaming quality and recently added an option to download and play games natively.
Under Spartacus, subscribers can pay one subscription fee for all services. It will essentially give PS4 and PS5 owners:
- Access to online multiplayer
- A curated selection of free PS4 games
- New free titles offered every month
- Access to hundreds of games from all past PlayStation consoles (read: multigenerational backward compatibility)
Leaked documents indicate that Spartacus will launch in Spring 2022 while keeping the PlayStation Plus name and phasing out PS Now branding. Although pricing was not available, the service will have three subscription tiers.
The lowest-priced subscription would be the same benefits that PlayStation Plus offers now. The middle tier adds an extensive on-demand library of PS4 games, with PS5 titles eventually making their way into the mix. The premium plan (Spartacus) is all of the previous benefits plus game streaming and downloading of PS1, PS2, PS3, and PSP titles.
How Sony decides to price the service will determine whether it's an attractive offer comparable to Game Pass. For reference, Game Pass Ultimate subscriptions run $15 per month with no annual option, so $180 per year. If you are currently on yearly plans for PS+ and PS Now, you're paying $120. It will be interesting to see if Sony jacks its top tier up to $180 per year.
But hold off your excitement until Sony officially announces something. Anything can happen between now and next spring.