The Short Stack #5: Sony has put me off renewing my PS Plus Extra subscription
Sony confirms that PS Plus Premium isn't the Xbox Game Pass competitor I was hoping for
Hello, Shortizens! It’s almost October, and I’m already battling the temptation to turn on my heating as another bitter English winter fast approaches. I’m trying to hold out until November, but I feel like that will be a fruitless endeavor for someone who – despite having as much body hair as Chewbacca – would die in a draft if left too long.
I hate being cold. Brrrrrr. 🥶
Impending chilliness aside, it’s been a while since I wrote an episode of The Short Stack. But I had to address the recent comments made by Sony’s head of PlayStation Indies, Shuhei Yoshida, as I believe he’s given us the best insight yet into Sony’s plans for its revamped service.
Speaking at GI Live: London (thanks, Eurogamer), Yoshida clarified how Sony sees its new PS Plus Premium and Extra service, and essentially conceded that it wouldn’t compete with Xbox Game Pass, at least not directly.
Instead, PS Plus Premium and Extra should be seen as added value options for PlayStation gamers, developers, and publishers.
Here’s what Yoshida said:
"The new PS Plus has tiers, and essentially, it's like the old PS Plus. We still release two or three new games every month, and a new tier, Extra, has a catalog of hundreds of games for people to play.
"For Extra, our approach [is] we like to help the publishers [with] lifecycle management. I was managing first-party [at PlayStation], so I know that it's like in the movies – a movie comes out at the theater first, then goes to pay-per-view, or a subscription service, or free TV, every time generating new revenue and reaching out to a broader audience.
"In the same kind of way, we believe in the premium release of a title at launch and after maybe six months, or three months, or three years, when the game's sales come down, inclusion into this service, PS Plus Extra, can help introduce these games to new, broader audiences.
“Some people might have missed these games when they came out, and it's a great chance to play and generate word-of-mouth, or if there's DLC or a sequel going, we can help elevate interest to a broader audience about the franchise.
"So we are encouraging publishers to make use of these services in managing the lifecycle of each title."
Want to know what I make of Yoshida’s comments with a quick, albeit admittedly facetious, gif?
A hard sell 🤔
My PlayStation Plus Premium subscription ran out last night, and I sat contemplating whether to sign up for Extra (I stand by my PlayStation Plus Premium review when I said it currently isn’t worth it, especially not when it costs more and offers less than Xbox Game Pass Ultimate). However, after reading Yoshida’s comments, I honestly don’t see any reason to.
The prospect of paying for a service that will primarily offer legacy titles, the majority of which I’ve already played (including all of the best PS5 games), is about as appealing as going on a date with England’s Prime Minister Liz Truss.
The best thing about Xbox Game Pass isn’t the off chance I’ll play something that may have passed me by – it’s having access to new titles, day one, from various genres. It helps that every Microsoft first-party games are also included, which could soon include Call of Duty, Diablo, and Overwatch.
For those who may have picked up Sony’s console in the latest PS5 restock, having a catalog of older titles to jump into is a great proposition, but even then, I think some users will inevitably ask, “What’s next?”
📃 PlayStation Plus Premium games list: every title on Sony’s service
I doubt many people will be happy to hold out for a few years to play a particular game, especially as there’s a good chance it’ll come to other competing subscription services. That certainly doesn’t appeal to me, as there’s usually a reason why specific titles passed me by in the first place.
Seeing Stray release on PS Extra and PS Premium gave me hope that Sony might at least offer independent games and third-party releases to subscribers, but Yoshida seems to suggest that any day one releases will mostly be confined to the regular PS Plus offering. Why bother with Extra or Premium, then?
In September alone, Xbox Game Pass subscribers have been treated to five day one releases: SpiderHeck, Beacon Pines, Slime Rancher 2, Moonscars, and PAW Patrol Grand Prix. Other notable titles like Deathloop and Grounded have also joined the service, but considering PS Plus Extra and Premium members have only had one day one release since the revamped services launched, Stray, it’s hard not to feel short-changed.
And in terms of Yoshida’s comments on encouraging DLC sales, Sony needs to take a page out of Microsoft’s book. Any game included in Xbox Game Pass is 20% off while it’s part of the service, and DLC for those titles is 10% off. There are no discounts for games that are included in PS Plus Premium or Extra, aside from the usual discounts or sales you’ll find on the PlayStation Store.
We think you’ll like it 😅
If Netflix and Amazon Prime were solely focused on bringing TV shows and movies that were well passed their sell-by-date to their platform, I’d have unsubscribed months ago. Yes, older content is nice to have, especially if something comes to a service a few months later. But the new releases and original content make the subscription worth it, at least for me.
And as for Sony’s unerring stance on not putting its first-party games on PS Plus Premium or Extra, here’s what Jim Ryan told GamesIndustry.biz when the new PS Plus tiers were first announced.
"We feel like we are in a good virtuous cycle with the studios, where the investment delivers success, which enables yet more investment, which delivers yet more success. We like that cycle and we think our gamers like that cycle.”
I don’t particularly appreciate paying $70 for a game, and I doubt I ever will. I think it’s laughable to suggest that gamers would rather part with their cash than have the option to pay for a subscription service that includes all of Sony’s hits. There’ll still be the option to pay $70 if you’re inclined, but Ryan’s words come across as ignorant, especially as Sony had no problem raising the price of PS5, despite the current cost of living crisis.
With all the talk of Sony being worried it can’t compete with Xbox if Microsoft owns Call of Duty, it’s frustrating that the market leader is refusing to at least try to make its service comparable to Xbox Game Pass. I guess I’ll stick with the standard PS Plus for the foreseeable. 🤷
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