PlayStation’s revamped version of its video game subscription service went live on Monday, giving members access to a catalog of several hundred games both new and old.
PlayStation Plus, once code-named Spartacus, is Sony Group Corp.’s attempt to compete with rival Microsoft Corp.’s popular Xbox Game Pass as both publishers jockey to be the Netflix of video games.
The new service combines Sony’s previous subscription offerings into a three-tiered system. The most basic level, Essential, costs $10 a month and replaces the old PlayStation Plus, offering two downloadable games per month, a smattering of discounts and access to online multiplayer games.
It’s the top two tiers that are new for PlayStation users. The Extra tier, at $15 a month, offers a library of about four hundred PlayStation 4 and 5 games, while the $18 a month Premium level adds a few hundred classic games to the pool, mostly from the PlayStation 3. The service only has around thirty PS1, PS2 and PSP games, which has been a disappointment for retro gamers.
Still, the core lineup has impressed fans so far. It includes Sony first-party games such as Spider-Man and Returnal as well as recent titles from external publishers, such as Take-Two Interactive Software Inc.’s Red Dead Redemption II and Square Enix Holdings Co.’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Indie classics such as Outer Wilds and Hollow Knight help round out the catalog. The service ran smoothly during tests by Bloomberg Monday afternoon.
But the new PlayStation Plus differs from Xbox Game Pass in one key way: It doesn’t include brand-new games. Sony’s Horizon Forbidden West, which came out in February, isn’t yet available on the service, and the upcoming God of War Ragnarok won’t be on it right away either.
Sony, which relies on its blockbusters to sell tens of millions of games, has said the economics wouldn’t make sense for it to put titles on PlayStation Plus when they come out. In contrast, Microsoft has committed to putting all of its games on Game Pass as soon as they launch.
The new PlayStation Plus service debuted just one day after Microsoft’s annual Xbox showcase, which revealed several new games and highlighted footage from upcoming titles like Starfield. Each new reveal ended with a simple yet effective chyron that illustrate’s Microsoft’s biggest advantage in the coming streaming war: “Play it day one with Game Pass.”