Sony is apparently hard at work on its answer to Xbox Game Pass behind closed doors, codenamed Project Spartacus internally. The news comes from a new Bloomberg report outlining key features of the new subscription service, along with a possible release window, but there’s much more to it than that.
We outline all you need to know about the new PlayStation Plus service – the Xbox Game Pass competitor – right here, including release date and pricing rumours, and all the latest leaked information.
When will the new PlayStation Plus be released?
With the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate collection improving each week, PlayStation fans are eager to see something materialise – and the good news is that we might not be waiting much longer.
Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier, who broke the news on Sony’s Project Spartacus – the internal code name for the new Game Pass rival – suggests that the upgraded game subscription service is currently penned for release sometime in Spring 2022.
It has also emerged that Sony is putting a stop to its PlayStation Now gift card offerings at UK retailers. After leaked messaging from UK retailer GAME appeared online, suggesting that all cards will be removed from shelves by 21 January, Sony confirmed the move. "Globally, we are moving from PlayStation Now Gift cards to focus on our current cash denomination PlayStation gift cards, which can be redeemed for PlayStation Now," Sony has said.
While it doesn't mention the upcoming rumoured merged service, it's another indicator that Sony is putting something together behind closed doors, and it's looking likely that we'll find out what that looks like very soon.
We’ll update this section with more information as it becomes available.
How much will the new PlayStation Plus cost?
There isn’t any concrete pricing in place just yet, but we do know – via Bloomberg – is that the new PlayStation Plus will be a combination of PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now, and that the new pricing will likely reflect that.
Per the Bloomberg report, Sony is allegedly looking into a three-tier system for its new subscription service, with a slightly different digital offering for each. We imagine it’ll be in-line (or close to) what Microsoft charges for its Xbox Game Pass system, which is currently broken up into two tiers – Game Pass and Game Pass Ultimate.
The former comes in at £7.99/$9.99 per month, while the latter costs £10.99/$14.99 per month, and given the fact that the new service is likely a direct response to Microsoft’s subscription, it can’t afford to be too expensive.
It’s also worth mentioning that the new PlayStation Plus subscription will allegedly be available for both PS4 and PS5 players – and it makes sense given the 116 million PS4 consoles and 13.4 million PS5 consoles in the wild.
Latest PlayStation Game Pass equivalent rumours
So, what will the new PlayStation Plus subscription offer that’ll allow it to better compete with the popular Xbox Game Pass Ultimate service?
Per the Bloomberg report, citing sources "who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to speak to the press about the plans" outlines a three-tier subscription system for the new service, which effectively combines PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now into a single subscription.
As Sony’s services currently stand, PlayStation Plus provides online connectivity for multiplayer games and offers a handful of free games every month, while PlayStation Now allows you to stream (or download) older PlayStation titles, but Bloomberg suggests that the PlayStation Now branding will be phased out at launch.
The entry-level subscription will offer a similar experience to the existing PlayStation Plus subscription, while the second tier will introduce PlayStation Now’s library of PS4 (and eventually PS5) games – but it’s the top tier that’ll pique the interest of most.
The top-end PlayStation Plus subscription will allegedly add extended game demos, cloud-based game streaming a’la Xbox Cloud Gaming and a library of classic titles spanning the PS1, PS2, PS3 and PSP generations.
There is an air of uncertainty of the games included as part of the subscription though. One of the biggest features of Microsoft’s Game Pass Ultimate is the ability to play platform-exclusive titles at release for no extra cost, and it’s likely the big feature PlayStation gamers are hoping for too.
However, a GI.biz interview with SIE boss Jim Ryan from September 2020 suggests that might not be the case.
The PlayStation head said that a subscription-type model would be unsustainable for PlayStation Studios (which creates most PS platform exclusives) as the budgets quickly grow "well over $100 million", and those comments were echoed by former PlayStation exec Shawn Layden earlier this summer.
Layden questions the long-term prospects of Microsoft’s Game Pass Ultimate business model, stating that "it’s very hard to launch a $120m game on a subscription service charging $9.99 a month".
Doing the math, the former exec suggests that "you’re going to have to have 500 million subscribers before you recoup your investment" and explains that "if you only have 250 million consoles out there, you’re not going to get half a billion subscribers".
It’s certainly a tough line to walk, and it’ll be interesting to see how Sony tackles the issue of day-one releases with its new subscription service.
Project Spartacus, as it’s known internally, is still not finalised so plans could change between now and release, but it’ll no doubt be a welcomed announcement from the legions of PlayStation fans jealous of the Xbox-based subscription service.