Phil Spencer, the head of Xbox, says it is “an inevitability” that PlayStation will produce its own version of Xbox Game Pass.
Speaking to IGN, and responding to recent rumors surrounding the future of PlayStation Plus, Spencer says Game Pass-style services meet many player interests and provide a freedom of choice that isn’t given elsewhere. He expects Sony will try to emulate the success of Xbox’s approach with a similar service of its own.
"I don't mean it to sound like we've got it all figured out, but I think the right answer is allowing your customers to play the games they wanna play, where they wanna play them, and giving them choice about how they build their library, and being transparent with them about what our plans are in terms of our PC initiatives and our cross-gen initiatives and other things,” he says.
"So when I hear others doing things like Game Pass or coming to PC, it makes sense to me because I think that's the right answer.”
He adds that the industry’s move to subscription-based services was always going to happen. Now, the question becomes who can innovate or improve upon that system best in the future.
"When I'm talking to our teams, I talk about it as an inevitability,” Spencer says.
“So for us, we should continue to innovate, continue to compete, because the things that we're doing might be advantages that we have in the market today, but they're just based on us going first, not that we've created something that no one else can go create.”
“Because I think the right answer is to ship great games, ship them on PC, ship them on console, ship them on cloud, make them available day 1 in the subscription. And I expect that's what our competitor will do."
Analysis: the game streaming wars are coming
Xbox Game Pass has been one of Microsoft’s most warmly received gaming projects of the last few years. Praised by players for providing access to a huge library of games at a low cost, it’s also been continually touted as a success by Xbox heavyweights, including Spencer.
PlayStation’s interest in emulating that success with its own subscription service - rumored to be codenamed Spartacus - was first revealed last year in a Bloomberg report, but it was little surprise to many. A subscription service that embeds you within a console’s ecosystem, while encouraging you to stick with it by constantly handing you more games to dig into, has proved as enticing for players as it has the console manufacturers.
As Spencer alludes to here, the bigger question remains how, exactly, PlayStation will implement the service, and what additional features it will provide over Xbox Game Pass. According to the Bloomberg report, one of its key features will be providing access to older PS1, PS2, and PS3 titles.
It’s looking likely that we’ll find out more details in the near future. The appearance of PS3 games on the PS5’s store earlier this week alongside the recent removal of PlayStation Now subscription cards from UK and US retail stores last week suggests changes to the service are incoming. That change could well be the big one: the announcement that PlayStation Now and PlayStation Plus are being combined into Spartacus.
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