- Sony unveiled a new video game subscription service for PlayStation on Tuesday.
- The service is intended to compete with Microsoft's wildly popular Xbox Game Pass.
- But Sony's service is missing a foundational component that makes Xbox Game Pass so appealing.
Sony unveiled its long-rumored video game subscription service Tuesday morning: The PlayStation version of a Netflix-style service for video games.
Starting at $15-per-month and going as high as $18-per-month, PlayStation 4 and 5 console owners will be able to access a rotating catalog of about 400 to 800 games. That library spans several generations of PlayStation consoles, from the original PlayStation to the current PlayStation 5.
In many ways, the new PlayStation subscription service sounds a lot like Microsoft's wildly popular Xbox Game Pass service which has added billions to Microsoft's revenue. It's got a similar price and a similar subscription model, with an even larger library of games.
But there's one critical difference between Xbox Game Pass and Sony's new service: Microsoft launches all of its games on Xbox Game Pass at no additional cost to subscribers. Sony isn't doing that.
When the highly-anticipated "Halo Infinite" launched last holiday season, for instance, it was immediately available on Game Pass with no additional cost. Similarly, when "Starfield" launches later this year, the game will be available on Game Pass on day one.
That's because both of those games are made by Microsoft-owned studios, and everything from Microsoft-owned studios is available at launch, for free, on Game Pass. It's core to Microsoft's business model with Game Pass.
So the argument goes: Rather than paying $60 or $70 for a brand new game that's launching on Game Pass, why not pay for a one-month subscription instead? Even if you pay $15 for the higher subscription tier, you've instantly saved $45 at a minimum.
But when the next major "God of War" entry comes out later this year for the PlayStation 4 and 5, it won't launch on Sony's subscription service.
That's according to PlayStation leader Jim Ryan, who said that Sony putting first-party games on its subscription service "upon their release" is "not a road that we're going to go down" in a new interview.
"We feel if we were to do that with the games that we make at PlayStation Studios," Ryan told video game trade publication GamesIndustry.biz. "The level of investment that we need to make in our studios would not be possible, and we think the knock-on effect on the quality of the games that we make would not be something that gamers want,"
To be clear, first-party Sony games will appear on the service — just not at launch. It's not clear how long the window will be between launch and appearing on the new subscription service.
Notably, Microsoft's years-long acquisition spree puts it in a position to offer some of the world's biggest games on Xbox Game Pass, including "Minecraft" and "DOOM."
Should the company's planned acquisition of Activision for $69 billion be approved by regulators, the next major entries in the "Call of Duty" and "Overwatch" series' will join them.
Despite Sony's success with the PlayStation 5, which has been sold out almost permanently since its launch in November 2020, Microsoft has had runaway success with its Xbox Game Pass subscription service.
As of January 2022, the service had over 25 million paid subscribers: At a minimum subscription price of $10 per month, that equates to roughly $250 million every month. At that pace, Xbox Game Pass subscriptions are positioned to rake in approximately $4 billion between January 2022 and January 2023.
When Sony's service launches this June, it will arrive in Asia first, the blog post said, "followed by North America, Europe and the rest of the world where PlayStation Plus is offered." The goal is to have it fully operational by the end of the first half of 2022, Sony said.
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