Before we explain how bad Microsoft’s Game Pass is for consumers and game studios in general, let’s start with official news from Sony regarding their rival Game Pass service. Sony’s PlayStation Now will join the current PlayStation Plus service and combine their individual properties with other elements in a tiered offering. Currently, PS Now offers game streaming and downloads from past and current PS4 libraries. PS Plus allows online play, free monthly games, and special PS Store discounts.
PlayStation Plus Essential
- Provides the same benefits PlayStation Plus members get 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.
- $9.99 per month / $24.99 per term / $59.99 per year
Additional PlayStation Plus
- Provides all Essential tier benefits
- 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. Extra tier games are downloadable to play.
- $14.99 per month / $39.99 per quarter / $99.99 per year
PlayStation Plus Premium
- Provides all Essential and Extra tier benefits
- Adds up to 340 additional games, including:
- PS3 games available via cloud streaming
- A catalog of beloved classic games available in streaming and download options from the original PlayStation, PS2 and PSP generations
- Provides cloud streaming access for original PlayStation, PS2, PSP and PS4 games offered in 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 out certain games before purchasing.
- $17.99 per month / $49.99 per quarter / $119.99 per year
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Why Game Pass is actually bad, but inevitable
I’ve read complaints about there being no mention of first-party AAA titles on the new PS Plus. I would say they are not coming “yet”. People seem to think that offering multiple games that usually cost people between $60 and $80 for a SHARE of a $20 subscription is sustainable. As in, they will continue to receive the same quantity and quality of games in this new era as before. They are wrong. I just gave you the basic math. Instead of a studio selling its games and sharing that profit within its company, many studios under one umbrella will be forced to share from a larger pool fueled by less money. Additionally, this pool will need to grow constantly to maintain quality and quantity. However, it’s the idea of games as a service becoming the norm for consoles, and potentially PCs, that’s truly awful.
Microsoft’s Game Pass offers a lot to consumers, and I’m not denying that Sony’s offering doesn’t have the same appeal. I declare that GP is not a sustainable platform without a severe overhaul of the game in general. Studios will have to look to offset less revenue by reducing the quantity of games, reducing the quality, or making you spend more on in-game stuff. Think of all Gotcha games, and mobile games in general, and loot boxes that everyone seems to hate. Imagine paying to win, paying to shoot, paying not to get shitty infections Bioshock 4, Final Fantasy XVIor even the following Horizon Game. It would probably be the games after those to feel the full effects of this new world order, but you get the picture. Just watch the reactions to Gran Turismo 7 using real world money for cars.
Sony will fall there too
While PS Plus is focused on offering older games, demos and exclusive Sony discounts, they hope to offer gamers a huge library that is only available through resellers and certain perks within their ecosystem. This allows studios, including Sony, to make full price on new games sold for the PlayStation. IT’S BUSINESS 101! However, don’t think it’s me shilling for Sony. If you know my feelings about gaming subscription services, you know I’m not a fan of them in general due to consumer behavior. Also, I hate Sony Pictures/Columbia! They ruined too many things for me! However, Sony will have no choice but to start offering newer and bigger titles within its service. People want it, even if they don’t see the big picture.
Many people don’t think about what happens when a game they love leaves the service. They lose their library despite having paid hundreds of dollars over the years, but can no longer afford the subscription. They don’t think about small studios and projects that can’t float on big seller money. Basically, they see less money coming out of their wallet, up front, and more games at their fingertips NOW. This is the very definition of myopia.
Watch the struggles of movie and TV streaming. Look at Disney’s missing numbers for Disney+ and Netflix that constantly raise prices. We consume ourselves to consume fewer things. The only question is, how long will Nintendo withstand this?