Sony Interactive to Debut New Subscription Gaming Service

Sony Interactive Entertainment is launching a new PlayStation Plus subscription service in June. Combining the existing PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now, the new service will first debut in Asia, with Europe, North America and the rest of the world to follow. The company is rolling out an “early look” at the new PlayStation Plus, which will feature “curated content from our exclusive PlayStation Studios team and our third-party partners,” for multiplayer gaming to install or stream. Subscriptions on three tiers of service will be available for monthly, quarterly or annual rates. 

“The newly enhanced PlayStation Plus will enable our fans to discover and engage with more content than ever before and deepen their connection with the PlayStation community through shared experiences,” SIE president and CEO Jim Ryan said in a blog post. With this debut, Sony will retire the PlayStation Now brand.

The $9.99 monthly, PlayStation Plus Essential provides the same benefits as the existing service, which includes online multiplayer capability, two monthly downloadable games and cloud storage for saved games. This entry-level subscription can also be had for $24.99 quarterly or $59.99 yearly.

For $14.99 per month, PlayStation Plus Extra provides all the benefits from the Essential tier plus a catalog of up to 400 of the most popular PS4 and PS5 games “including blockbuster hits.” Games in the Extra tier are downloadable for play. Discounted quarterly subscriptions of $39.99 and $99.99 yearly are also available.

Starting at $17.99 monthly, PlayStation Plus Premium features — in addition to the benefits from both lower tiers — up to 340 additional games, including PS3 games available via cloud streaming and a catalog of classic favorites from the PSP and PS2 eras, available for streaming and download. Time-limited game trials will also be offered in this tier, so customers can try select games before they buy.

Though PlayStation Plus will be making available some high-profile games — including “God of War,” “Marvel’s Spider-Man” and “Mortal Kombat 11” — the company “isn’t making its upcoming exclusive PlayStation games available on launch day through this subscription service, making it less of an Xbox Game Pass competitor,” writes The Verge.

The move prevents Sony “from cannibalizing some revenue from more traditional gamers who elect to purchase the games rather than subscribe to a service,” says The Wall Street Journal, noting that “by contrast, Microsoft has embraced the day-one release approach,” going so far as to purchase Bethesda Softworks in 2020 and pursue Activision Blizzard (announced in January but still pending) “with the specific goal of building up its catalog of fully owned game properties that can draw players to subscription-based game offerings.”

While console game sales “have faced constraints over the past year because of component and shipping shortages,” the PlayStation 5 has been outselling rival Xbox, according to WSJ, which pegs sales of the Sony product from its late 2020 launch at 17.3 million units and Xbox sales at 12 million units for the same period (through the end of 2021).

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