One thing missing from the new PlayStation Plus is day-one first-party game releases like those offered by Xbox Game Pass. Ryan has claimed adopting a similar policy would result in lower quality games.
With over 25 million subscribers, the influence of Xbox Game Pass’s subscription model is already becoming significant. However, Sony’s Jim Ryan told GI.biz he was not convinced it would ever become truly dominant like in music and TV.
“Subscription has certainly grown in importance over the course of the last few years,” he said. “Our PlayStation Plus subscriber number has grown from zero in 2010, to 48 million now. And we anticipate, for our services, that we will see further growth for the subscriber number.
“But the medium of gaming is so very different to music and to linear entertainment, that I don’t think we’ll see it go to the levels that we see with Spotify and Netflix.”
Instead, Ryan said he believed that players would continue to flock toward live service games similar to Fortnite and Call of Duty Warzone. Under his leadership, SIE has started investing more in online games via deals such as its $3.6bn purchase of Destiny creator Bungie.
“Some of the live service [games] that are proving very successful these days, and I’m not restricting this comment to console, they’re effectively subscription services in themselves,” Ryan told GI.biz.
“And they’re very much tailored to the needs of the gamer who loves whatever game that they spend hours and hours with, month after month after month.
“That phenomenon of the live service game… that has, in a very large part, fuelled the enormous growth in the gaming industry that we’ve seen over the last ten years.
“I think that trend towards live services will continue, and if you look for a model in our category of entertainment, which supports sustained engagement over a long period of time, live services games arguably fit that bill better than a subscription service.
“But it’s all about choice. There are obviously many millions of people who are happy to subscribe to PlayStation Plus. We offer them that option on the platform, and we think that we are offering a significantly improved option with the changes we have made.
“Equally, if people want to play Fornite or Call of Duty or FIFA, and have their sustained engagement that way, that’s fine, too. Nobody is obliged to do anything.”