Game subscriptions increase if PlayStation enters the race

The new PlayStation Plus does not have a cloud component in Australia, although it does internationally. Launching June 23 for $19 per month or $135 per year, it gives access to: a library of hundreds of games for PS4 or PS5.

There’s also a Deluxe tier, where players can get the same library for $22 a month or $155 a year plus additional benefits, including dozens of original and remastered games from the PS1, PS2, and PlayStation Portable systems, as well as limited-time trials of new games.

Sony won’t add its own games to the service when they launch, meaning dedicated players will still have to pay full price if they want to play new blockbuster titles right away.

PlayStation Plus will offer a library of hundreds of games starting next week.

Games not owned or published by Microsoft or Sony tend to switch subscriptions on and off, or have to be bought outright. Many gamers have expressed concerns about effectively leasing access to these games through subscriptions, with no recourse if one of their favorites is removed from the service.

But while dedicated gamers – like dedicated movie watchers – may enjoy looking for very specific titles, subscriptions can appeal to a much broader base who simply browse the catalog to find something to play.

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Thomas Keene, a longtime console gamer from Melbourne, said Game Pass is now a big part of their game. Some of their friends use the service exclusively and don’t buy games at all, they said.

“I can afford $15 a month for dozens of games, trying new things I might not like, and games I know I like. But I can’t afford $50 to $80 for a single game, let alone more than one,” they said.

“It still gives me anxiety, especially because I don’t really own my favorite games. But knowing that so many, especially those that Microsoft owns, aren’t going away anytime soon, helps.”

Keene also has a PS4 that hasn’t gotten that much love since Game Pass, but they said the upcoming PlayStation Plus could be a great excuse to go back and play some missed games.

“I would like to have both [Game Pass and PlayStation Plus] in theory, but based on the prices I think I should switch services strategically. It’s a really good list of PS4 games.”

“I can afford $15 a month for dozens of games, trying new things I might not like, and games I know I like. But I can’t afford 50 to 80 dollars for a single game, let alone more than one.”

Gamer Thomas Keene

Valerie Valentine, also from Melbourne, prefers to play on PC. She said she likes subscription services to make games more accessible to people who might not have played them otherwise, but would like to see more options that allow players to retain ownership of games.

“I don’t like the idea of ​​paying for temporary access. It’s like renting from Blockbuster with extra steps. And companies that can remove games from subscription lists, in the same way that Netflix can remove shows, seems a little strange to me,” she said.

“But overall I like it [subscription services]† I don’t think this is the future we necessarily want or need, but it’s the one we’re going to get.”

More controversial than the idea of ​​a subscription future is the idea of ​​a streaming future. Microsoft and Sony have each positioned streaming as a way to expand their offerings to people who may not want to invest in gaming hardware. Games are played on remote servers, with the sound and images beamed over the internet to players’ phones or computers.

Samsung recently announced that its 2022 TVs will work with any Bluetooth game controller to stream games from multiple services, including Game Pass, meaning owners can play the latest Halo, for example, without a console or PC. PlayStation fans can even use their Sony controller to play Xbox games through their TV.

Valentine said she wasn’t interested in streaming games the way she would stream movies.

“There is a fundamental difference. Games are interactive and we note the inherent slowdown of streaming. Local multiplayer has to become online multiplayer and you can’t buffer games the same way you do movies,” she said.

In a recent talk about Xbox’s plan for the next 20 years, Microsoft’s Gaming CEO Phil Spencer emphasized that things like Game Pass and cloud streaming are only designed to offset some of the options players have. Xbox games appear in subscriptions, but can also be purchased individually, on both consoles and PCs, through Microsoft’s own retail stores, and through Steam.

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“We are building a platform that can reach billions of players, be it on console or PC. Whether via Xbox cloud streaming in a web browser, in an app or on a device dedicated to playing games,” he said.

“That’s just fundamental to where Xbox is going: find as many players as possible, cultivate a community of great creators so that we have the most diverse, unique content on our platform. And multiple business models for delivering that content.”

A Sony spokesperson could not be reached for comment.

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