PlayStation Game Pass subscription service coming to PS5
Sony is readying a Game Pass-like subscription service for its new PS5 console. Here is everything you need to know about PlayStation Now 2.0.
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The console war is back on, with both Sony and Microsoft starting again at ground zero with new, next-generation consoles. We've previously reviewed the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X. Both consoles offer compelling and differing views as to how the future of gaming will unfold. The PlayStation is focused on innovation, whereas the Xbox aims for accessibility.
A key part of Microsoft's vision for making the next-generation console a more affordable and frictionless experience is Game Pass Ultimate. The subscription service is a real point of difference as the value it offers is excellent. For the same price as a mid-tier Netflix subscription, you get access to a revolving library of 150 games. They're good games, too, including every first-party release on launch day.
In addition, you get access to online play, exclusive deals, early access to trials and betas, xCloud – the exciting new game streaming service – and free EA Play, which in itself comes with dozens of titles from the famed developer.
It's very much a real option for gamers to buy an Xbox and the Game Pass Ultimate subscription and never spend an additional cent. When you compare that to the PlayStation 5, things don't look good for Sony. The PS5 may be the better console with the more innovative experience, but you need to buy PlayStation Plus and all your games at anywhere up to $120 each, on top of buying your console.
The price difference in the long run is significant. Innovation is great, but in the era of COVID-19, accessibility could very well mean more to many gamers.
Does Sony PlayStation have Game Pass?
As of the end of 2020, Sony does not have an alternative to Game Pass for the PlayStation. Well, that's not entirely true. There is the PlayStation Now service, but it can only loosely be considered competition to Game Pass. While it is a subscription service offering a library of games to play, it only offers access to legacy games from the PS4, PS3 and PS2 eras, and nothing else. And if you're playing on a PS5, only the PS4 games will work as PS3 and PS2 games are not compatible with the system.
In addition, PlayStation Now isn't even available in Australia. There's no expectation of it arriving anytime soon, either. Only a select 19 countries can access the service.
PlayStation Now vs Game Pass
|Features||Playstation Now||Game Pass Ultimate|
|Compatibility||PS5, PS4, PC||XSX, XSS, XBO, PC, Android|
|Approximate games number||800||150|
|Old-Gen Games||PS4, PS3, PS2||Xbox, Xbox 360, XBO|
|Available in Australia||No (19 international countries)||Yes (+ 40 other countries)|
|EA Play access||No||Yes|
|Includes Online Play||Yes (but not PlayStation Plus)||Yes|
|Deals and Discounts||No||Yes|
|Special trial access||No||Yes|
|Streaming game service||No||Yes|
|Day one launch games||No||Yes|
Will Sony get a Game Pass service?
Yes, it will. On 20 November 2020, when pushed about whether PlayStation 5 would receive a Game Pass-like service, Sony Interactive CEO Jim Ryan confirmed it was in the pipeline. He urged gamers to be patient, saying there was "news to come".
The big questions now become when will we get it and how closely will it follow the Game Pass Ultimate template. There's an argument that Sony will do itself a disservice by adding its first-party games line-up to a Game Pass-like service. Sony has the more renowned and diverse line-up of first-party games and the majority of PS5 owners will happily buy them at full price. Is it worth giving them away as part of a subscription service?
Sony also has made no indication to suggest it is working on a streaming games service like xCloud, and there's potential that the Microsoft EA Play deal is an exclusive.
That said, Sony did buy a stake in Epic Games before the PS5's launch, setting tongues wagging that the two will collaborate more closely in the future. It could be the Epic Game Store that ends up integrated into the service.
What will the Sony Game Pass service be called?
All we can do is offer educated guesses in this regard as no official information has been leaked let alone released. Our expectation is that it will retain the PlayStation Now branding, but diversify what is included as well as the number of countries where it's available.
When will the Sony Game Pass service be out?
As to when it will become available, we expect to see a Sony Game Pass service arrive in 2021. Game Pass Ultimate is proving a big win for Microsoft. The service passed 15 million subscribers in September 2020, which was before the next-generation Xbox Series X came out. Furthermore, it was at 10 million in April 2020, so it experienced 50% growth in just 5 months.
That's a compelling result and Sony would appear to be losing significant cash flow by not having a like-for-like service widely available. We can certainly expect it will before the PS5 Pro lands, which is expected to bring with it cloud gaming.
Is the PlayStation Plus service worth it?
Sony isn't without a service to tide gamers over until PlayStation Now goes full Game Pass. If you own a PS5 (or a PS4 for that matter), then you should have a PlayStation Plus subscription. It costs $79.95 a year, so only $6.66 a month, and that's if you pay full price since there are often plenty of deals about.
For that money, you get access to online play, exclusive discounts, bonus skins/items, 100GB of cloud storage space and at least 2 free games per month. They're usually high-quality games, too, including excellent first-party blockbusters. In addition, if you buy a PS5 and PlayStation Plus subscription, you get the PS Plus Collection. This provides free access to 18 of the best backwards compatible PS4 games if you have the hard drive space.
Amazon usually has the cheapest PlayStation Plus subscriptions, which you can find via the below.
Will PlayStation Now come out in Australia?
It's highly unlikely that PlayStation Now in its current form will be released in Australia. However, as theorised above, we suspect that the upcoming Game Pass-like service for PS5 – which has been hinted at by Sony CEO Jim Ryan – will retain the name PlayStation Now. And we expect that this service will be released internationally. We therefore expect PlayStation Now 2.0 to release in Australia, hopefully in 2021.
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