PlayStation Plus rebrand draws mixed reactions following official announcement

On one hand, Project Spartacus is an "upgrade" to the old PlayStation Plus. On the other hand, Sony was pretty vague with the details and it's certainly not a Game Pass competitor.


After several leaks and reports from trusted sources, the latest of which came from Kinda Funny Games' Greg Miller and Bloomberg's Jason Schreier, Project Spartacus is finally here.

Starting in June, PS Plus will come in three tiers as part of Sony's restructuring of its video game subscription services.

Sony officially confirmed the upcoming PlayStation Plus rebrand, which is scheduled to arrive as soon as June 2022, and it's something. But, before we dive deep into what the consensus is on the new all-new PlayStation Plus, let's talk more about what was announced first.

According to the official blog post, the rebranded PlayStation Plus is a three-tier service that merges PS Plus and PS Now, amongst other things. The leakers were pretty spot on with the details of the new subscription, down to what Sony has to offer.

For example, the first tier, PS Plus Essential, is effectively just the current PS Plus subscription, right down to the price, albeit made to look "cheaper". Starting June, the most economical PlayStation Plus membership will give subscribers two monthly downloadable games, exclusive discounts, cloud storage for saved games, as well as online multiplayer.

For those willing to spend a bit more, the next tier, PS Plus Extra, costs $14.99 a month or $99.99 a year, and comes with everything from PlayStation Plus Essential but with access to some 400+ PS4 and PS5 games, including what Sony describes as "blockbuster hits from our PlayStation Studios catalog and third-party partners." Admittedly, PS Plus Extra is quite cost-effective as it's a literal combination of the current PS Now and PS Plus offerings but at a $5 discount per month.

Finally, the most expensive tier, PS Plus Premium, will set users back $19.99 a month or $119.99 a year. As expected, Premium combines all the first two tiers with other freebies such as cloud streaming as many as 340 PS3 titles as well as classic PS1, PS2, and PSP games. In addition, Sony is giving Premium subscribers time-limited game trials so they can demo games before buying them.

Also, in select markets without cloud streaming, Sony is replacing PS Plus Premium with PS Plus Deluxe, which it claims will cost less than Premium but come with everything that it has to offer just minus the cloud streaming.

As for users with existing subscriptions, Sony confirmed that PS Plus subscribers in June will automatically get PS Plus Essential. Meanwhile, those with an active PS Now subscription will get the most expensive offering, PS Plus Premium, or, in some markets, PS Plus Deluxe.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, it's time to address the elephant in the room - this is not a Game Pass competitor.

Microsoft's most expensive video game subscription service, the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, costs $14.99 a month, and long-term subscriptions don't cost less unless it goes on sale. Because of this, a one-year subscription to Game Pass Ultimate isn't comparatively cheaper at $180 a year, a 51% increase over PS Plus Premium.

But, for the added price, Game Pass Ultimate subscribers get to enjoy day one releases of games like Starfield and The Elder Scrolls VI, as well as cross-PC functionality, and a bunch of other frequent freebies and also EA Play. Although Sony nor the leaks never promised a true competitor to the Game Pass, you'd think that the Japanese company would have tried to come up with something as attractive and cost-effective as the Game Pass. Instead, the rebrand of the PS Plus is just Sony's way of telling audiences that it's still banking on its massive first-party library, which, admittedly, is excellent.

It's nice to see that Sony is including classic PlayStation games for both PS Plus Premium and PS Plus Deluxe.

Someday, Sony might have no choice but to listen to what the market has spent years trying to tell it, but that time is still ways away.

The PlayStation community is celebrating Sony's new subscription service, but there is a handful who don't think that the all-new PS Plus is that big of a deal. It's always nice that Sony is finally giving PS Now the spotlight that it rightfully deserves even though the service will forever be renamed and forgotten come June.

But excuse us if we don't feel too excited about Sony locking demos behind a premium paywall. Everyone should get a chance to enjoy these free trials. If that's not possible, Sony should have at least included demos in the basic PS Plus Essential service.

If nothing else, the rebrand is just a way for Sony to redefine and clarify its subscription services. For what it's worth, Sony is right to bank on the PlayStation brand against matching the Game Pass. Besides, Sony can always throw in its experimental streaming service with PS Plus Premium to make it more attractive down the line.

However, with Microsoft effectively owning huge IPs like Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, Call of Duty, Diablo, Overwatch, and more, Sony's reign atop the first-party mountain might come to an end soon.

PlayStation has the library to make the rebrand work. Sony just has to make sure that the service is fully available on most if not all markets.

For now, we're hoping that Sony takes the time to clarify some vague details about the reclassified PS Plus. For example, what happens if a subscriber wants to upgrade to the next tier? Microsoft simplifies Game Pass upgrades as users can move to a higher tier at any point by buying the month of the desired tier. Some are speculating that Sony will ask subscribers who want to upgrade to pay the difference, but that's not guaranteed.

Ray Ampoloquio
Ray is a lifelong gamer with a nose for keeping up with the latest news in and out of the gaming industry. When he's not reading, writing, editing, and playing video games, he builds and repairs computers in his spare time. You can find Ray on Twitter.
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