Game subscriptions heat up as PlayStation joins 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 provides access to a library of hundreds of games for PS4 or PS5.

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

Sony doesn’t include its own games on the service when they launch, meaning dedicated gamers still have to pay top dollar if they want to play new hit titles right away.

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

Games that aren’t owned or published by Microsoft or Sony tend to come in and out of subscriptions, or have to be purchased 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 moviegoers – may like to hunt down very specific titles, subscriptions could appeal to a much broader base that’s just flipping through 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 gaming. 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 may not like and games I enjoy. But I can’t afford $50-80 for just one game, let alone more than one,” they said.

“It always gives me anxiety, especially not actually owning my favorite games. But knowing that so many people, especially those owned by Microsoft, aren’t going away anytime soon helps.

Keene also has a PS4 that hasn’t gotten as much love since Game Pass, but they said the upcoming PlayStation Plus might be a good excuse to go back and play some games they’ve been missing.

“I wish I had both [Game Pass and PlayStation Plus] in theory, but depending on the prices I should strategically alternate the services I think. This is a very 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 enjoy. But I can’t afford $50-80 for a single game, let alone more than one.

Player Thomas Keene

Valerie Valentine, also from Melbourne, prefers playing on PC. She said she likes that subscription services make games more accessible to people who might not have played them otherwise, but would like to see more options for 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 being able to remove games from subscription lists, the same way Netflix can remove shows, seems a little weird to me,” she said.

But overall I like [subscription services]. I don’t think they are the future we want or necessarily need, but it is the one we will have.

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 extend their offering to people who may not want to invest in gaming hardware. Games are played on remote servers, with sound and vision streamed to players’ phones or computers via the Internet.

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

Valentine said she wasn’t interested in streaming games like she might stream movies.

“There is a fundamental difference. The games are interactive and we notice the lag inherent in streaming. Local multiplayer has to become online multiplayer, and you can’t stamp games the same way you can stamp movies,” she said.

In a recent chat about Xbox’s plan for the next 20 years, Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer pointed out that things like Game Pass and cloud streaming are only meant to be some of the options available. the players. Xbox games appear in subscriptions but can also be purchased individually, on consoles as well as PC, through Microsoft’s own stores as well as the likes of Steam.

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“We’re building a platform that can reach billions of gamers, whether on console, whether on PC. Whether through Xbox cloud streaming in a web browser, in an app, or on a dedicated gaming device. “, did he declare.

“It’s just fundamental to the direction Xbox is headed – finding as many players as possible, cultivating a community of amazing creators so that we have the most diverse and unique content available on our platform. And multiple models commercial to provide this content.

A Sony spokesperson was unavailable for comment.

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