God Of War Ragnarök – Sony says its quality would suffer as a day one PS Plus game (pic: Sony)
PlayStation boss Jim Ryan has explained why the Game Pass style PS Plus revamp doesn’t have first party exclusives from day one.
Everyone knew it was coming but given all the leaks there wasn’t really that much new information about Sony’s PS Plus revamp, that creates a three-tier service where the more expensive options make it similar to Xbox Game Pass.
It’s far from identical to Microsoft’s offering though, with the most obvious difference being that Sony first party exclusives aren’t included from day one, although some older ones, like Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Returnal, can be downloaded at no extra cost.
That’s exactly as expected, since Microsoft is a much bigger and richer company than Sony, that can afford to lose money on initial first party sales. However, Sony claims that the real reason it’s not doing it is because the quality of their games would suffer.
‘We feel if we were to do that with the games that we make at PlayStation Studios, that virtuous cycle will be broken’, PlayStation boss Jim Ryan told GamesIndustry.biz, referring to the idea that successful first party games help to fund subsequent ones.
‘The level of investment that we need to make in our studios would not be possible, and we think the knock-on effect on the quality of the games that we make would not be something that gamers want.’
That is a tacit admission that Sony can’t afford to give its games away at launch, even if it does boost subscription numbers, but it will be interesting to see if their attitude changes once their promised new live service titles are released, which can make far more revenue from microtransactions than the sale of the parent game.
Ryan doesn’t rule out a change of policy in the future, but he’s also not convinced that subscriptions will ever become the dominant way to pay for games.
‘Subscription has certainly grown in importance over the course of the last few years,’ he admits. ‘But the medium of gaming is so very different to music and to linear entertainment, that I don’t think we’ll see it go to the levels that we see with Spotify and Netflix.’
Instead, he suggests that live service games are essentially individual subscription services, and that that’s what Sony will focus on more in the future.
‘I think that trend towards live services will continue, and if you look for a model in our category of entertainment, which supports sustained engagement over a long period of time, live services games arguably fit that bill better than a subscription service.’
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