The new PS Plus is basically just a rebranding of their existing services
After much speculation, numerous alleged leaks and a lot of supposition, PlayStation has revealed its new service to what can only be described as a muted response. The optimists hoped for a like for like service comparable to Xbox Game Pass, and the pessimists wondered if their wallets would be deep enough. As it stands, we actually got something in between.
Here is the pricing information and what you get in the new tiers:
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
PlayStation Plus Extra
- Provides all the benefits from the Essential tier
- Adds a catalogue of up to 400 of the most enjoyable PS4 and PS5 games – including blockbuster hits from our PlayStation Studios catalogue 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 catalogue 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
PlayStation Plus Deluxe
- (Select Markets) For markets without cloud streaming, PlayStation Plus Deluxe will be offered at a lower price compared to Premium, and includes a catalogue of beloved classic games from the original PlayStation, PS2 and PSP generations to download and play, along with time-limited game trials. Benefits from Essential and Extra tiers are also included. Local pricing will vary by market.
My first and initial reaction to this news was, “phew”, as it’s not going to change the existing price of the basic PS Plus service we already get and that the new services on top aren’t at ridiculous prices. Sony has recently been in the habit of pushing the boundaries of price limits with £70 first-party exclusive games and aggressive microtransactions in GT7.
Be that as it may, the devil is in the details, and although this gives gamers more of a choice, it’s quite clear, for now at least, that this service isn’t a direct competitor for Xbox Game Pass. The main reason for this is that the big AAA blockbuster exclusives the brand is famed for won’t be included in these new services as day one releases. What players want to know is, how long after they have been released will they be included in one of these packages?
There’s no denying these are high-quality titles, but they’re also likely to have been purchased and played by many fans already.
The inclusion of a premium tier likely made many think this would be how you could get access to PlayStation’s new releases at launch, but sadly that’s not the case. What the premium tier offers instead is the ability to stream PS3 games as well as download PS2, PS1 and PSP games.
Retro gamers may rejoice at this news, but in total there are around 2500 PS3 games, of which the library will only include 350. Not to mention that, although passable for casual gamers, the quality of streaming games is dependent on many factors, such as connection speed and stability, latency, and how far you are from the nearest datacentre.
As an example, Xbox Cloud gaming services are decent if you’re on a phone or tablet, or for trialling games before downloading, but our testing has shown frequent stutters and freezes, clearly visible compression artefacts and problems with input latency, even on PCs connected via ethernet to an FTTP network. These issues are amplified when playing on a big screen, although the less graphically intensive early PlayStation games may not look too bad. In truth, we’re still a few years away from game streaming being a viable way to enjoy games for most users.
The next and probably more important question is which games will be included? As someone who still owns and runs a PS2, PS3, PSP, PS Vita, PS4 and PS5, I regularly dip into my backlog of games I have yet to finish on the older platforms. The advancement of current technology is making the experience of going back to rough looking graphics and awkward gameplay on these older systems harder and harder to stomach. Therefore, I don’t personally see a huge appeal for the top tier service unless some of the games they offer are rare or of very high quality.
The PC problem
PC gamers who use PS Now are definitely getting the short end of the stick. At the moment, PS Now costs £8.99 a month or £49.99 yearly, but under the new subscription model, there is no way to purchase it as a standalone service. Instead, it seems PC players will have to purchase the PlayStation Plus Premium tier, which essentially doubles the cost and adds services that PC gamers likely don’t need or want.
It’s a similar story for players on consoles, too. Not everyone is interested in multiplayer gaming, but where you could pick up PS Now and play the catalogue to your heart’s content without needing PS Plus, you now need to purchase either the Extra or Premium tiers. Although these new tiers could encourage new players to sign up and get the benefits of the extensive PS Now library, it could just as easily drive away a large number of their current user base.
Fortunately, Microsoft has done a lot of the hard work for Sony. When Game Pass launched, users were sceptical of adding another monthly subscription service to their outgoings, but Xbox used an aggressive marketing campaign, offering £1 trials and conversions of existing memberships into their GP Ultimate tier, presumably taking a significant financial hit in the process. The result is that public perception of gaming subscription services has shifted to where Game Pass is seen as one of Xbox’s strongest features.
Now that monthly gaming subscriptions are generally well regarded, all PlayStation has to do is provide a service that offers perceived value and they have a potential winner on their hands. However, where Sony’s offerings differ is that there isn’t an option to have just the game streaming and downloads without the PS Plus equivalent, unlike the standalone PC Game Pass and console Xbox Game Pass. You could actually argue that’s what they already have, and that hasn’t worked out so well for them. Is simply combining the two really going to trick users who were already apathetic about PS Now into subscribing? I’m not so sure.
What ultimately will decide this for fans is which games become available and when. With no firm details yet as to the content of each tier, it’s a little hard to praise or criticise too harshly what is being offered. It’s a small step in the right direction for Sony and the PlayStation brand, but let’s hope it turns into a giant leap.
We’ll have to wait until June when PlayStation begins to roll out the *all-new (*rebranded) PS Plus to find out.