PS Plus relaunch as it happened
Sony has finally revealed its new take on PlayStation Plus. It's been running the subscription service since 2010 and, though a frontrunner when it launched, it's been showing its age in comparison to its rival's Xbox Game Pass.
The new version of PlayStation Plus combines two services – the old version of PlayStation Plus and Sony's PlayStation Now cloud gaming subscription. This means, depending on what tier you subscribe to, you can get access to PlayStation's online services, such as multiplayer, a library of PS4 and PS5 games, and a library of retro games drawn from Sony's back catalog of PSX, PS2, PS3, and PSP consoles.
Below we've rounded up all of the key details of the announcements and developments as they happened throughout the day.
First off let's go over those different tiers. PlayStation Plus Essential, Extra, and Premium. Effectively, Essential gives you access to PlayStation's online services, Extra lets you play a library of PS4 and PS5 games, and Premium gives you access to retro titles. But here's that breakdown in more detail:
PlayStation Plus Essential
- Provides the same benefits that PlayStation Plus members are getting today, such as:
- Two monthly downloadable games
- Exclusive discounts
- Cloud storage for saved games
- Online multiplayer access
- There are no changes for existing PlayStation Plus members in this tier.
- Price for PlayStation Plus Essential remains the same as the current price for PlayStation Plus.
- United States
- $9.99 monthly / $24.99 quarterly / $59.99 yearly
- €8.99 monthly / €24.99 quarterly / €59.99 yearly
- United Kingdom
- £6.99 monthly / £19.99 quarterly / £49.99 yearly
- ¥850 monthly / ¥2,150 quarterly / ¥5,143 yearly
- United States
PlayStation Plus Extra
- Provides all the benefits from the Essential tier
- Adds a catalog of up to 400 of the most enjoyable PS4 and PS5 games – including blockbuster hits from our PlayStation Studios catalog and third-party partners. Games in the Extra tier are downloadable for play.
- United States
- $14.99 monthly / $39.99 quarterly / $99.99 yearly
- €13.99 monthly / €39.99 quarterly / €99.99 yearly
- United Kingdom
- £10.99 monthly / £31.99 quarterly / £83.99 yearly
- ¥1,300 monthly / ¥3,600 quarterly / ¥8,600 yearly
PlayStation Plus Premium
- Provides all the benefits from Essential and Extra tiers
- Adds up to 340 additional games, including:
- PS3 games available via cloud streaming
- A catalog of beloved classic games available in both streaming and download options from the original PlayStation, PS2 and PSP generations
- Offers cloud streaming access for original PlayStation, PS2, PSP and PS4 games offered in the Extra and Premium tiers in markets where PlayStation Now is currently available. Customers can stream games using PS4 and PS5 consoles, and PC.
- Time-limited game trials will also be offered in this tier, so customers can try select games before they buy.
- United States
- $17.99 monthly / $49.99 quarterly / $119.99 yearly
- €16.99 monthly / €49.99 quarterly / €119.99 yearly
- United Kingdom
- £13.49 monthly / £39.99 quarterly / £99.99 yearly
- ¥1,550 – monthly / ¥4,300 – quarterly / ¥10,250 yearly
So, two PlayStation services are merging into one with three tiers of access. This isn't going to be confusing at all...
First key takeaways:
- If you're currently a PlayStation Plus subscriber you will automatically have your subscription turned into a PlayStation Plus Essential tier
- If you're currently a PlayStation Now subscriber, your subscription will automatically become a PlayStation Plus Premium subscription
Now, a lot of the perks of the higher tiers come as a result of game streaming, a service that isn't available worldwide. Currently, PS Now is only available in Europe, North America, and Japan.
For regions where it's unavailable, Sony says it will be offering a tier called PlayStation Plus Deluxe which "will be offered at a lower price compared to Premium and includes a catalog of beloved classic games from the original PlayStation, PS2, and PSP generations to download and play, along with time-limited game trials. "
This new version of PlayStation Plus is built to appeal to a wide swathe of gamers with different interests.
The Essential tier is for people who just want to be able to play their games online and it has the added perk of a few extra games each month. Though, as anyone who is a long-time subscriber of PS Plus can attest to, those games often aren't very exciting.
Extra is for people who are fussed about the current generation of console games, filling out their PS4 or PS5 with a large library of downloadable games. If you don't buy games often, this is a quick way to make sure you always have something to play.
Premium is for players more interested in playing older releases. While this isn't the backwards compatibility offered by the Xbox Series X, it will bring forward a catalog of games that are becoming harder to access with each passing year.
However, does that actually let Sony compete with Microsoft when it comes to its gaming subscriptions? In many ways, they seem similar, for a monthly fee you get access to hundreds of games that you can download or stream to your console. But there is one key aspect of Xbox Game Pass that Sony isn't replicated with this new version PlayStation Plus - releasing first-party games on day one to all PS Plus members.
"[I]t's not a road that we're going to go down with this new service," SIE President Jim Ryan said in an interview with GamesIndustry. "We feel if we were to do that [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 concedes that Sony may change its position in the future, saying "I don't want to cast anything in stone at this stage. All I'm talking to today is the approach we're taking in the short term. The way our publishing model works right now, it doesn't make any sense. But things can change very quickly in this industry, as we all know."
That's not to say that major first-party PlayStation games won't be part of your PlayStation Plus catalog. " At launch, we plan to include titles such as Death Stranding, God of War, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, and Returnal," Ryan says. But, the most recent of those games, Returnal will be more than a year old in June, when this revamped service launches.
So, even with this relaunch, Sony is starting from behind its main competitor.
Daniel Ahmed, a senior analyst over at Niko Partners, has published a breakdown of what Sony gets out of merging PS Plus and PlayStation Now.
"Sony has over 50 million subscriptions across its PlayStation business, but >95% are on PlayStation Plus and <5% are on PlayStation Now," Ahmed writes. "The simple fact is that PS Now never had the same appeal or adoption as PS+.
"This simplification provides a more streamlined offering with certain perks that weren't there before.
- A PS4 & PS5 game catalog in the Extra tier
- Game trials in the Premium tier
- Cheaper pricing for the Deluxe tier that offers back catalog games via download
"For someone that wasn't a subscriber of PS Now, this opens up a ton more options that are easy to move to via the tiered approach. For someone that was a PS Now subscriber (in addition to PS+), there are now cheaper options (Download only) or additional BC games/perks.
"The goal for Sony here isn't necessarily to grow its subscription numbers significantly (growth will continue over time), it's more about giving people a reason to move up a tier or two when previously PS Now didn't appeal to them much Essentially, increase spend per user."
While this is obviously an explanation of why it's good for Sony, from a simplicity standpoint, it's a little better for us gamers. PS Now was always a subscription that was kind of off to the side and never particularly appealing. Folding it in as an extra, alongside a wider catalog of games at least gives it a clearer place in the PlayStation ecosystem.
Though, from the response around the TRG offices, this functional change in the subscription services hasn't got anyone excited. We'll be going more into why that is in the next posts.
Should you be excited for PlayStation Plus?
In a recent article, our own Vic Hood wrote about a loss of love for PlayStation Plus, after being a subscriber for more than eight years:
"I’ve been finding less and less value in what was once an indispensable subscription service. The free games I once waited patiently to redeem each month are often disappointing and the bonus content is largely unused, there are some months I flat out forget to claim the freebies on offer. The online multiplayer remains the only real draw.
"While this disenchantment could be down to a slump in the free games on offer - they’re the primary draw for me - the truth is it’s hard to ignore Xbox Game Pass. Microsoft’s subscription service appears to pack in much more than PS Plus for roughly the same price."
The changes to PS Plus do make it a valuable service to subscribers once again, but only when they sign up for the Extra or Premium tiers, which costs at least $40 (£30) more than the Essential subscription. Although PS Plus Extra is roughly approximate to a year's Xbox Game Pass for Console subscription.
While it's good news Sony is offering a comparable service to Microsoft, the muted response comes from the fact PS Plus revamp offers little that's new and across gaming.
The blog post announcing this relaunch opens, saying "Since launching PlayStation Plus in 2010, SIE has been at the forefront of innovation with game subscription services. We were thrilled to be the first console membership service that included a refreshed library of games through PlayStation Plus, and also launched the first console game streaming service with PlayStation Now." And then goes on to detail a service that doesn't innovate, but consolidates services Sony already offered.
It's a good service but not an innovative one.
For a different perspective on the Ps Plus revamp, our own Daryl Baxter has shared his thoughts as a keen retro gamer.
"Am I happy with the announcement? Almost. It's a silent acknowledgment from Sony that this should have been on its consoles as far back as the PlayStation 4. It's great that there are almost 400 classic games getting their chance in the spotlight again.
"Sony has a lot to prove here. It has to prove that it's committed to preserving a catalog that defined the PlayStation to start with. It has to prove that it's listening to its userbase, and it definitely has to prove that this isn't a one-time service. Once the PlayStation 6 arrives, we should see this service continue to be offered regardless, and not as an afterthought."
To give the decision some context, in an interview with GamesIndustry, SIE President Jim Ryan says "Obviously, [retro games aren't] for everybody, which is why it is in the Premium tier. But there are people like me who have been around forever, who have played those games and loved those games 20-odd years ago. Or maybe it's people whose parents rave on about these games and want to try them for themselves. Once we can share the line-up with the world, we think there's going to be a lot of interest in that."
One detail in the announcement that's caused a lot of discussion here at TRG was whether the PS Plus Essential tier was truly as good value as the current PS Plus subscription. Namely, this is because of one detail in the blog, it says that Essential subscribers will get "Two monthly downloadable games".
If you check out PS Plus today there are more than two games being given away. In fact, most months see Sony giving away more than two games, so this appears to be a step-down, making this new subscription less good value for money. We contacted Sony to confirm, though, and they clarified that it will continue as it has been, varying the number of games that it gives away. Sometimes it will be two, sometimes it will be more.
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