We’ve been talking a lot about the currently unnamed PS5 after Wired exclusively revealed tons of information via an interview with system architect Mark Cerny, but one of the big things not talked about was the services coming with the next-generation consoles. Even before we learned a lot about the upcoming console, I’d been wondering how Sony might start to evolve its service strategy. PlayStation Plus in particular has been relatively stagnant for a few years, actually growing in price and cutting back on features most recently. PlayStation Now is Sony’s cloud gaming solution. So how will the PlayStation 5 evolve the PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now services?
For some of the answers to that question, we look over the fence at Microsoft and Xbox, with their recent changes to Xbox Game Pass. Xbox Live and Xbox Game Pass (effectively Microsoft’s version of PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now) now have a bundled version with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, a $14.99 per month subscription. That’s Sony first step. Draw more attention to PlayStation Now by including it in a premium version of PS Plus. It’s become cliche to say, but it’s effectively the “Netflix of games” idea, and it’s a large part of the gaming industry’s strategy in the next decade or so.
With backwards compatibility being confirmed for the PS5, PlayStation Now is an incredible chance for PS5 owners to expand their libraries even further. Google Stadia and Microsoft are already doubling down on cloud-gaming technology for the next generation, and while Sony’s made it clear that it wants to have a powerful physical living room box, it’d be crazy not to at least get a part of the cloud-gaming market share. While PlayStation Now can currently stream to PS4s and PCs, an expansion of this idea might not be out of the question. What if you could stream any game you owned from anywhere? It’s an idea I’ve posited before in Daily Reaction, when I talked about wanting to bring my PSN account everywhere with me.
PlayStation Now also gives the PS5 the ability to be backwards compatible (loosely) with PlayStation consoles older than the PS4. While it’s currently presumed that our full PS4 libraries will be making the jump with us to next-gen without any issues, the same can’t be said of older content that’s being left behind. If PlayStation Now’s streaming service could be expanded from its list of games to include our own purchased content (much in the same way Google Music allows streaming of music on its platform as well as the music you upload directly to your account), that’d skyrocket the value proposition. I know, I’m vastly simplifying a hyper-complex feature, but this is Daily Reaction, where we dream big.
What About PS5 PlayStation Plus?
PlayStation Plus has had an interesting history. It was introduced back on the PS3 and gave free games to subscribers each month, as well as discounts through the PlayStation Store. It wasn’t long before Sony revealed that Plus would be required for online play on the PS4, matching what Microsoft was already doing with Xbox Live. My guess is that the early introduction of Plus was a way to ease PlayStation owners into the idea of being subscribed to a service and help ease the blow of the PS4’s paid online requirements. Regardless, they continued to offer free games through the service, even expanding it to the PS4 once it launched.
Up until earlier this year, we were getting a selection of six free games per month, two each on PS4, PS3, and Vita. Sony decided to drop ongoing additions to the PS3 and Vita portion of the library, but still left us with only two PS4 games per month. There are a lot of logistics behind that decision and the question of value, but to most people’s minds, two is simply less than six, so this change was negatively received.
Heading into the PS5 though, there are some incredible opportunities. If Sony keeps up the free game additions, then with backwards compatibility, PS5 owners will still be getting access to those PS4 games. I also think that they should really add in at least one VR title per month as a simple marketing tactic. It’s an easier sell to have somebody buy a VR headset if you can show them that they already have a library of games waiting for them via their Plus subscription that they are paying for anyway. That would bring the total back up to five games per month, with every single one of them playable one the PS5. The question of quality is another topic entirely, but Sony’s PS Plus strategy will probably continue to involve free games (unless there’s a complete revamp to the service on the way).
Of course deals would still be a big draw, but Sony needs to start doing more exclusive stuff with the subscription to make it more exciting to be a member. Too many people feel like they just subscribe right now for the sake of online play, but more Plus bonuses would be welcome in making people anticipate what they pay for.
It’s hard to predict exactly what direction Sony is going to take with PlayStation Plus because of just how little we know about next-gen right now.A new console is the perfect time to make drastic changes to a service that’s in some need of revamping. We saw some pretty big changes with the launch of the PS4, and I suspect the PS5 will bring just as many surprises. What changes do you want to see come to the PS5 PS Plus and PS Now services?
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