PlayStation Plus

Sony finally unveiled their much-bandied-about PlayStation Plus tier structure, their obvious attempt at trying to match the value of Microsoft’s Game Pass. And I gotta say, what Sony’s serving up is pretty underwhelming.

Admittedly, this is not completely unexpected. I have for years been saying (as many others have also) that Sony needs to nix it’s PlayStation Now service and just fold it into the Plus membership. So I think it’s safe to say that most of us saw this coming. However, what I didn’t see coming was how little value this service is looking to provide, at least for a gaming enthusiast like me. Since it removes one of the free monthly games from the now “Essential” tier (from three to two) and effectively raises the price of PlayStation Now for anyone interested in that service.

But before I get any deeper into this discussion, I’m going to lay out what each tier offers and how much they cost (which I copied straight from the PlayStation Blog — you can head over there if you’d like to get it straight from the horse’s mouth).

PlayStation Plus

PlayStation Plus Essential

  • Benefits
    • Provides the same benefits that PlayStation Plus members are getting today, such as:
      • Two monthly downloadable games
      • Exclusive discounts
      • Cloud storage for saved games
      • Online multiplayer access
    • There are no changes for existing PlayStation Plus members in this tier.
  • Price for PlayStation Plus Essential remains the same as the current price for PlayStation Plus.
    • United States
      • $9.99 monthly / $24.99 quarterly / $59.99 yearly
    • Europe
      • €8.99 monthly / €24.99 quarterly / €59.99 yearly
    • United Kingdom
      • £6.99 monthly / £19.99 quarterly / £49.99 yearly 
    • Japan
      • ¥850 monthly / ¥2,150 quarterly / ¥5,143 yearly

PlayStation Plus Extra

  • Benefits
    • Provides all the benefits from the Essential tier
    • Adds a catalog of up to 400* of the most enjoyable PS4 and PS5 games – including blockbuster hits from our PlayStation Studios catalog and third-party partners. Games in the Extra tier are downloadable for play.
  • Price:
    • United States
      • $14.99 monthly / $39.99 quarterly / $99.99 yearly
    • Europe
      • €13.99 monthly / €39.99 quarterly / €99.99 yearly
    • United Kingdom
      • £10.99 monthly / £31.99 quarterly / £83.99 yearly 
    • Japan
      • ¥1,300 monthly / ¥3,600 quarterly / ¥8,600 yearly

PlayStation Plus Premium

  • Benefits:
    • Provides all the benefits from Essential and Extra tiers
    • Adds up to 340* additional games, including:
      • PS3 games available via cloud streaming
      • A catalog of beloved classic games available in both streaming and download options from the original PlayStation, PS2 and PSP generations 
    • Offers cloud streaming access for original PlayStation, PS2, PSP and PS4 games offered in the Extra and Premium tiers in markets where PlayStation Now is currently available. Customers can stream games using PS4 and PS5 consoles, and PC.
    • Time-limited game trials will also be offered in this tier, so customers can try select games before they buy.
  • Price:
    • United States
      • $17.99 monthly / $49.99 quarterly / $119.99 yearly
    • Europe
      • €16.99 monthly / €49.99 quarterly / €119.99 yearly
    • United Kingdom
      • £13.49 monthly / £39.99 quarterly / £99.99 yearly 
    • Japan
      • ¥1,550 – monthly / ¥4,300 – quarterly / ¥10,250 yearly
  • PlayStation Plus Deluxe (Select Markets) For markets without cloud streaming, PlayStation Plus Deluxe will be offered at a lower price compared to Premium, and includes a catalog of beloved classic games from the original PlayStation, PS2 and PSP generations to download and play, along with time-limited game trials. Benefits from Essential and Extra tiers are also included. Local pricing will vary by market.

What’s my take on the tiered PlayStation Plus model?

PlayStation Plus

As you can see, the Essential tier pretty much stays the same as the current basic Plus tier that exists today, except for the aforementioned reduction in the number of free games per month. I personally think this should impact the amount that Sony is asking for the Essential tier, perhaps lowering it by a couple bucks.

Then again, considering that most of these games merely serve as library fodder (at least for me, since I rarely bother to play them), I guess it is what it is — to take a more nihilistic stance.

It’s when we get to the Extra and Premium tiers that things start to get a little dicey. If you’re already a Plus subscriber like me, than for an extra $40 a year I will now have access to a yet-unknown catalog of 400 PS4 and PS5 titles. The quality of that list is yet to be seen. It’s also unclear is if this is a revolving list of titles or if it’s set in stone; will we see the removal of some and the addition of others? Well, there’s a disclaimer on the PlayStation Blog that really makes this seem like a rotating library (which is to be expected from anyone who’s used a subscription service in the past, from Game Pass to Netflix).

Now, PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan has already stated that he has no plans for day-and-date releases of any of Sony’s first-party games. With that in mind, can we expect a game like Returnal to be included, since it’s been out now for just shy of a year? Or is that too new still? I’m just speculating here, but I would expect the PS5 titles to mostly be third-party games like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla or Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. If this is the case, does it then mean that, if the PS4 versions of those games are also included, they technically counts as two of the other 398 remaining titles?

Assassin's Creed Valhalla

It’s obviously too early to do anything other than speculate, so I will try not to get too far ahead of myself here.

Now, to touch on the Premium tier, it seems weird that the addition of PS2, PS3, and PSP titles would only further inflate the cost instead of merely serving as additions to the Extra tier. At the end of the day, it seems like the consumer-friendly approach would’ve been to just stick with the Extra tier, effectively bundling PS Now in with Plus and calling it a day. I have decent internet at my house, but still have issues streaming games, so I would effectively be unable to take advantage of this tier until my area improves it’s internet coverage. I think this will be a factor for a lot of people.

I should point out that with the Deluxe package, Sony addresses the issues of regions where cloud streaming simply isn’t available, but they seem to have a lot of faith in the current infrastructure in regions where cloud gaming is available. To me, that seems a bit shortsighted (especially considering the controversy that ensued from a similar attitude from Microsoft back at the beginning of the Xbox One generation).

But hey, maybe I’m just looking at this the wrong way. Maybe this isn’t even meant to really shake up the industry and in fact actually compete with a service like Game Pass. This could, as has been mentioned in a conversation I had earlier, just be a way to assuage board members and stockholders that have zero experience actually utilizing these services. Maybe these are decisions made by suits who don’t really understand that this decision doesn’t gain any real traction or improve the value proposition for consumers. Maybe the three tiers were only created to satisfy the “good/better/best” marketing model.

I personally don’t see enough value to increase my current subscription and will more than likely stick with the Essential tier. The prospect of playing older games is never anything more than a fleeting nostalgic feeling for me — I go back and play GTA IV for a bit, then, put it away only to maybe return for another couple of hours sometime in the distant future.

More importantly, I already own every PS4 and PS5 title that I am interested in, for the most part. And when it comes to the few PS5 games I would like to play that I don’t already own, I would be more likely to buy those outright for the right sales price rather than wait for them to be added to the list of “Extra-tier” games.

Then again, maybe it’ll all turn out to be great and I’m just being my regular old curmudgeonly, naysayer self who always looks for the worst in things. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

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