Sony PlayStation has launched its response to Microsoft Xbox’s Game Pass game subscription service.
Game Pass Ultimate has offered players a huge back catalog over the past five years, in exchange for monthly or annual payments.
It has been widely praised for its value for money, providing access to some of the biggest titles on the market.
Now, PlayStation hopes subscribers will switch from its rather basic PS Plus service to the new PS Plus Premium.
Currently, the base tier of PS Plus will cost you £6.99 per month or £49.99 per year.
The Premium tier costs around double that at £13.49 (£3.50 more than Xbox) per month or £99.99 per year.
As the cost of living crisis hits millions of families, will people be willing to pay nearly double for PlayStation’s new product than they did for the base tier?
Mark Griffith, director of the International Gaming Research Unit in the Department of Psychology at Nottingham Trent University, told Sky News: “If you are a football fan of a specific team and the club raises its prices, the fans will still buy subscriptions even in times of recession and inflation, avid gamers will likely do the same.
“Paid game services are unlikely to appeal to the casual gamer, but that’s not the market game companies are necessarily looking for…I don’t see how paying for new services like this will be any different , even if the cost of living increases.”
The new service offers access to many of Sony’s back catalogs, including fan favorites like Spider-Man, Miles Morales and Horizon Zero Dawn.
Nostalgic gamers will also be able to enjoy a series of PlayStation 4, 3 and even 1 games.
Previously only available to subscribers to PlayStation’s PS Now streaming service, players can now enjoy it as part of an all-inclusive price.
Players will also be able to stream their gameplay to various devices, so their console is available wherever they go via their smartphone.
Subscription services compete for customers’ money
However, digital entertainment companies face a challenge.
Stuart Miles, editor of consumer tech guide website Pocket Lint, said: “With so many subscription services from Netflix to Disney+ all vying for our money, consumers need to weigh which service will give them the best quality price report.”
It was reported last week that Netflix recently laid off 300 employees in a second round of job cuts due to falling subscriber numbers.
This news came a day after the launch of the new Paramount Plus video streaming service, adding to the wide variety of subscriptions available to consumers.
“As the cost of living crisis deepens, the ‘sign up all’ mentality of the past may not be as achievable in the future,” Miles added.
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Dr Jethro Shell, Senior Lecturer in Games and Intelligent Systems at De Montfort University in Leicester, added: “Games and TV services could be the first expenses to be cut, certainly before areas such as high debit and mobile phones.”
However, he says the rising cost of a brand new game might convince people to sign up: “Adding the new service will undoubtedly increase subscribers and revenue, despite the costs,” the Dr Shell.
And there is also an element of “perceived” savings, Dr Shell added.
“The latest PlayStation games can cost up to £50, more with specific editions. Xbox’s Ultimate Pass is only twice that price and yet there are hundreds of games you can play.”
The list of games available in Sony’s new service is long and will appeal to many PlayStation loyalists who have been clamoring for an Xbox-like service for years.
Whether that’s enough to attract new subscribers and increase Sony’s digital sales, and whether consumers can find enough money for another digital subscription, only time will tell.