It’s been known for quite some time that Sony has been working on a new version of PlayStation Plus, essentially being put out there by a lot of people as a “Game Pass competitor”.
Well, we got the reveal for the service last month, codenamed Project Spartacus internally, it was revealed to be a new 3-tiered subscription service which is an extension of the regular PlayStation Plus service we’ve known for a bunch of years.
It’s been met with fairly positive receptions after its reveal. The disappointment from Sony not having Day One Releases on their first-party releases was dampened by the fact that Bloomberg leaked it months ago.
The most negative perception from everyone seems to be that it was such a weird reveal. It’ll be out in June, more details will come later, and that’s it… We know a handful of games, and only have a sparse amount of actual details on how things will work out.
Why did Sony reveal it now?
The answer to this is quite simple… Their Fiscal Year was ending on March 31st, announcing it here means you basically have a card for investors to say that “We capped off the year with the exciting announcement of our new and better subscription service.” It’s truly nothing bigger than that, in my opinion.
One could however argue, that it actually would’ve given them actual better press from announcing it closer to release. Think about it, we currently know ~5 PS5 games coming to the service. We know there are 700+ games coming. We know the third tier has Streaming + Backwards compatibility…
Imagine if they announced this in May, with a full lineup of games, a showcase of the streaming, as well as showing PS1, PS2, PS3, and PSP games running on the service.
And there are still so many questions… Are there trophies? Will there be a PC client, since this essentially takes over PS Now? Is this PS4 & 5, and does that mean PS4 can stream PS5 games?
Is this PlayStation Game Pass?
The feeling on everyone’s mind seems to be that this is Sony’s Game Pass, their answer to that. In my opinion, truthfully, is that of course there’s some truth to that. Sony obviously sees the popularity behind the service, and frankly: Similar to words like the Metaverse or Battle Royale, Game Pass has cultivated an almost unhealthy obsession among investors and managers.
It’s no secret that almost every single industry is working on some form of subscription service. It could be subtle, like Starbucks offering a paid subscription for better offers – or the entire movie industry moving toward subscriptions.
The same has been true for gaming for years, even though it might have not been as apparent or “hyped”, as it currently seems to be. Starting on PS3 & 360, we got PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold.
Followed by that we had the slow, terrible, launch of PlayStation Now as well. And after that, we’ve seen a bunch of services… GeForce Now, Nintendo Online, Xbox/PC Game Pass, Amazon Luna, Google Stadia – and those are not even all, and will surely not be the last either.
In some way, PlayStation Now already was Game Pass, even before Game Pass existed. I’m not saying it is or ever was near as good. But that’s not my point; Sony wanted what Microsoft wanted with Game Pass, and messed that up. In 2021, PS Now was actually a very strong service, sadly tarnished by bad name recognition, and a bad word of mouth.
In 2022, PlayStation Now ceases to exist… Or well, its name does. PlayStation Plus Tier 2, the “Game Pass” tier, is basically PS Now rolled into the service – with a little bit more backing behind it. This essentially serves as a re-launch for the brand.
Why the 3-tiered system?
It’s beginning to be more relevant in different industries to focus on one streaming service with multiple options. Companies that previously have found it viable to have multiple services for different areas are opting to merge services or shutting others down.
This was on the table for a long time with PS Now, and I think it was about time they did something about that service. And frankly: I expect Microsoft to abolish Xbox Live Gold very soon as well.
We see this tiered system is used by multiple companies. Game Pass has its different tiers and is rumored to introduce a family plan next as well. Nintendo Online has tiers, with the recently added expansion pack – and they already have a family plan. Sony is now also opting to have a tiered system.
It’s as simple as giving the user the option to choose, the fact that some people go “I’ll get tier 2 because tier 3 doesn’t interest me for that price” means that those people still attach themselves to monthly payments. Of course, the best situation for Sony would be to get everyone on Tier 3, but the reality of the situation is that a 3-tiered thing like this means that a lot of people will look at Tier 1 and think “Huh, this is worth it for me.” Sony knows that, and in the end, they still get your money.
What about the monthly games lineup?
Well, each month right now, we get new free games on both PS Now and PS Plus. It’s been varying quality, and it’s of course very opinion based on if it’s good or not.
I do think it’s very safe to say that Tier 1, meaning, the current PS+ service, is going to take a drastic hit in terms of quality. In part because it already kinda has, but also because all focus and budget will be on supporting Tier 2 going forward. You can see this with Xbox Live Gold, in which their monthly lineup is awful – at best.
I do however think the quality for Tier 2, at least for the first 6 months or so, might be incredible. While there won’t be day one games, including basically Sony’s entire lineup from 2021 and back is already massive value. With the historically having a great relationship with Square Enix, Capcom, and even companies like WB Games – I suspect there’ll be plenty of games from these companies as well. (Mortal Kombat XI is the only confirmed third party game as of now)
I expect regular PS Studios and Square Enix games to join the service.
Could there be day one games?
Sony confirmed that PS Studios titles won’t launch day one on the service, which I think is mostly true – we’ll get back to that in a bit.
I do however think we already have proof that there could be day one releases outside of PS Studios, however. Frankly, the launch of Shadow Warrior 3 on PlayStation Now feels like a “tryout” for future third-party launches on the service. And this is something I definitely expect from the service.
Regarding PS Studios games though? Do I think their decision is likely to change? For their big-budget titles – no chance it’ll ever happen. I love this quote from Jim Ryan in the industry with GameIndustry.biz
[In terms of] putting our own games into this service, or any of our services, upon their release… as you well know, this is not a road that we’ve gone down in the past. And it’s not a road that we’re going to go down with this new service. We feel if we were to do that with the games that we make at PlayStation Studios, that virtuous cycle will be broken. 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.”
As usual, when it comes to anything Jim Ryan says, people talked a lot of shit about this quote – but I actually love it. I don’t know about you, but I feel strongly that I don’t want PlayStation’s output to change – and I’m sorry to say… But day one releases would mean that they might have to change. Sony isn’t Microsoft, they literally wouldn’t be able to afford to do their current games and to put them out like that – and even if they did, it’d be a way too big of a risk for them to do.
This is definitely a discussion for another day, but I definitely believe game design changes because of services. I do think there’s plenty of proof of this being the case with Microsoft as well – and that’s fine. But I don’t want this to happen at Sony.
What I do think is that Sony might opt to launch their multiplayer offerings going forward on the service. I suspect that a lot of games will be built around the Free To Play model – even if they’re paid. This will then be used as a way to get people on the service, “You don’t have to pay to play Factions if you have Tier 2 of PS+” would be the argument from fans, I suspect the hope from Sony would be.
I don’t know if I expect this from the bat, but I do think it’s very likely we see something like this happening down the line.
My thoughts on it
Before I move on with the reader’s questions, I want to share my own thoughts on the service.
I’m just going to say it outright: I don’t give two shits for subscription services in gaming. I’ve had PlayStation Plus since 2012, and I don’t think I have redeemed a single game since maybe 2020? Not that I remember at least… And the last game I remember playing on the service was probably Fall Guys, in 2020.
I’ve had PlayStation Now since 2019, and I like the service enough – but haven’t used it since maybe August 2021.
Since I have PlayStation Plus paid for ~4 years more, and PlayStation Now paid for ~3 years more, I’ll already be enrolled in Tier 3 of PS Plus when it comes which feels good. Will I use it? Not a lot, to be honest. But I do want it to do well, and I also want Sony to support it as well as possible for people that do care – so I’ll continue supporting it as well as I have the economy to do so.
I think the service is fine, but I do think that the announcement was straight-up bad. Weird timing aside from the Fiscal Year ending. I’m also weirdly anxious to see the PS1, PS2, PS3, and PSP games – as well as the streaming component. I thought PS Now’s streaming was actually amazing from PS5’s launch and on – and enjoyed it on PC as well.
My two biggest hopes that would actually have me using the service A LOT, is that PS3 would receive emulation (downloading) support – as well as the question of if old titles will receive trophy support. I imagine it won’t, but oh my days… IMAGINE IF IT DID.
Your questions and concerns
I sent out a tweet in which you could ask your questions and concerns. I got a few replies, and decided to answer most of them! Sorry if you weren’t included. But thanks for all of the support!
Honestly, I have no clue. I have had no information given to me on anything, in particular, happening right now. There’s been a lot of rumors, but I feel like it could be fairly quiet until like late-May to June potentially. It kinda sucks though, as I kinda feel like I need news soon.
It stands to reason that God of War Ragnarök has to be re-revealed soon. It’s prime for launch in 2022, and the rumors point it to late summer which means a marketing campaign needs to show up soon.
Aside from that, it’s the obvious question on PlayStation VR2 – which I frankly expect is slipping to 2023. I hope my guess is wrong on that. And finally; There’s always random-ass Sony dropping news every now and then. An acquisition could come at any point. We also need to see a future lineup of titles from Sony at some point soon.
YES! Great question. I do think indies will be a major part of the service, we’ve seen time and time again that Sony heavily supports indies on PS+ as it stands – and in fact some of its biggest successes are indies. Bugsnax, Fall Guys, and Rocket League were all slam dunk indies launching PlayStation Plus. I expect this to continue straight away from PS+’s relaunch in June.
We should probably expect Kena Bridge of Spirits, SIFU, Bugsnax, The Pathless, and many, many more on the service.
I definitely see your point here, and there’s no fault in feeling this way. It is anti-consumer to lock these games behind a paywall, but from Sony’s viewpoint, I think it’s easy to say “This wouldn’t have happened without the service. Either no games or this is how you get it”
With the Syphon Filter games being rated today, we might (Heavy emphasis on might) have the possibility of them launching separately as well – which would be ideal. I actually think having them on the Store could be enticing for the service as well, as I expect Sony would have them at heavy overprice (Like all PS1-PS2 games being $20 per game) – you might just opt to pay the PS+ subscription instead.
Regarding PS3 Streaming, yeah… They could do it, they really could. I feel like if they don’t fix PS3 Emulation down the line, it’s because they don’t want to spend the money on it rather than them not being able to.
Not sure if this was meant as a question, but I added it anyway. Indeed, no Vita games are included as of now which is a shame. I do hope they change this – and I also hope VR games will be included down the lines. I guess the argument for Vita games not being there could be the fact that there might be some issues compatibility wise with controller stuff (Touch screen, back-touch, some games having weird mechanics with the camera/screen, etc)
Let’s hope because Vita is awesome.
I’ll just say that I don’t think this is entirely ruled out yet. We’ll see, but I would be surprised if there wasn’t some sort of collaboration there.
Conclusion, future teases, etc
I’m so sorry for being so late with this one. I need to get better. Truthfully, I’ve felt like this article has been so bad time and time again like it doesn’t meet my quality standard. I’ve rewritten it multiple times, missed my own deadlines, and decided to just finish it and release it.
I’m quickly trying to finish the Epic Games Investment article for this weekend hopefully.
I also announced on Twitter that we’ve begun some backend work on some exciting new things for MarsipanGames that I think you’re going to be very excited to see. Especially if you’re a PlayStation fan. No timetable yet, but it’s going to look incredible when done.
I’m also looking into two things… A potential podcast under the MarsipanGames banner, we’re currently two people attached but are looking to at least one more firm host – and potentially a fourth rotating chair? I have some fun ideas that could make this something very fun.
The other thing I’m looking into is some form of community feature. Maybe a forum of some kind. I would love feedback on this!
Finally: Thank you so much for the patience shown, and the amazing support as usual. Felt very cool to have some questions sent my way for me to answer. Thank you for that!