According to documents seen by Bloomberg, the new subscription service is currently codenamed ‘Spartacus’ and will combine Sony’s current PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now services, phasing out the branding of the latter.
The first would include existing PlayStation Plus benefits, such as online play and free monthly titles. The second would offer a large catalog of games, similar to Microsoft’s Game Pass service. The third tier would add extended demos, game streaming and a library of classic PS1, PS2, PS3 and PSP games.
Bloomberg states that PlayStation didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The launch, if accurate, would position PlayStation against Microsoft’s popular Game Pass subscription service.
Game Pass launched in June 2017 and has become central to Microsoft’s gaming business, attracting over 18 million subscribers as of January 2021. It offers members access to over 100 titles, including all first-party games at launch.
Sony has said on multiple occasions that the Game Pass release model wouldn’t work for PlayStation, casting doubt on the likelihood that it would adopt a similar day-one subscription release model to its competitor.
Speaking to GI.biz last September, SIE boss Jim Ryan claimed a subscription-type model would be unsustainable for PlayStation Studios because it often sees its first-party game budgets grow to “well over $100 million”.
While it’s been claimed that Xbox Game Pass has yet to amass enough subscribers to make it profitable, Xbox boss Phil Spencer said last October that the company has no plans to increase the price of the service.
Former PlayStation executive Shawn Layden echoed Ryan’s sentiment in an interview this summer, in which he questioned the long-term prospects of the Xbox Game Pass business model.
“It’s very hard to launch a $120m game on a subscription service charging $9.99 a month,” he said. “You pencil it out, you’re going to have to have 500 million subscribers before you start to recoup your investment.
“That’s why right now you need to take a loss-leading position to try to grow that base. But still, if you have only 250 million consoles out there, you’re not going to get to half a billion subscribers. So how do you circle that square? Nobody has figured that out yet.”