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With new PS Plus, Sony is just keeping up with Xbox says expert analyst

A D-pad in the PlayStation Plus logo
(Image credit: Sony)

Reactions to Sony’s revamped PlayStation Plus subscription service have been mixed. The newly unveiled Xbox Game Pass competitor will combine the publisher’s old PS Plus service with its PlayStation Now cloud gaming platform into a single subscription model. Across three price tiers, it’ll offer access to a library of games, a slate of retro titles, and streaming options.

Lewis Ward, global video game industry analyst and research director at market intelligence firm IDC (opens in new tab), shared his thoughts on the new PS Plus with TechRadar. He describes the revamp as a welcome change that’s long overdue, but one that deliberately cuts back on what Microsoft’s own service offers.

For starters, PS Plus’s middle-tier – which will be priced at the same cost as Game Pass Ultimate – will include only 400 games. That’s fewer than the over 450 titles currently included on Xbox Game Pass.

“We read this as serving a twofold purpose,” Ward says. “Most subscribers don't want a massive catalog with a large share of clunkers but rather a streamlined catalog with better overall quality, and fewer catalog options means that the included games should generate more playtime and drive higher per-title revenue for third-party studios. 

“Interestingly, Meta's Quest Store has about 400 titles in it also, and Oculus execs have touted the upsides of maintaining tight curation in its store. Sometimes less is more.”

DualSense PS5 controller in front of the PlayStation Plus logo

(Image credit: Miguel Lagoa/Shutterstock)

Game Pass has seen great success by adding flagship Xbox games, such as Halo Infinite, onto the service the same day they hit retail. Sony won’t be following suit. The tech giant has already confirmed that it won’t be adding first-party releases to PS Plus the day they launch, which Ward says will hinder the adoption of the service.

“[Sony] believes adding AAA first-party games to platform-based subscriptions from launch is financially unwise and undercuts the share of service revenue that ultimately goes to third-party studios,” Ward says. 

“Subscribers shouldn't expect any new PS5 game from PlayStation Studios being in the service before the end of [the second quarter of] 2023.”

A major point of difference between the new PS Plus and Xbox Game Pass is Sony’s limited push into PC and mobile gaming. While Xbox Cloud Gaming lets you stream over a hundred titles to your mobile phone and PC, PlayStation Now hasn’t been heavily marketed toward PC gamers since it launched in 2014. On top of that, Sony's interest in mobile cloud-streaming will disappear altogether with the launch of this new PS Plus.

“Streaming to PCs is still there, but we don't see much in the way of heavy use or significant promotion,” Ward says. 

“It's clear from this perspective that Microsoft has far loftier goals for what Game Pass Ultimate may be able to achieve from a mobile subscription standpoint, especially in developing markets, over the next few years relative to [Sony’s] PlayStation goals.”

The PS Plus logo

(Image credit: Sony)

If nothing else, this new and improved PS Plus is Sony's first proper acknowledgment of the importance of gaming subscription services. But it's not a revolutionary move.

“This is [Sony] ‘keeping up with the Joneses’, with the Joneses being team Xbox,” Ward adds. “[Sony] has been leaving money on the table and this new approach should get them at least halfway to bridging that divide over the next year or two at the most.”

For now, fans remain split on the service. While some are excited at the opportunity to play retro PlayStation games on their PS5, others see this new PS Plus as a half step that doesn’t go far enough.

Callum is TechRadar Gaming’s News Writer. You’ll find him whipping up stories about all the latest happenings in the gaming world, as well as penning the odd feature and review. Before coming to TechRadar, he wrote freelance for various sites, including Clash, The Telegraph, and Gamesindustry.biz, and worked as a Staff Writer at Wargamer. Strategy games and RPGs are his bread and butter, but he’ll eat anything that spins a captivating narrative. He also loves tabletop games, and will happily chew your ear off about TTRPGs and board games.