After months of speculation and one major slip-of-the-tongue from Xbox, it’s looking like PlayStation is finally gearing up to announce its new subscription gaming service. The program, which carries the code name “Spartacus,” could be introduced as early as next week, according to people familiar with the company’s plans.
Spartacus (or whatever it ends up being called) aims to be a direct competitor to Xbox’s Game Pass, a service that’s proven to be incredibly popular since its launch alongside the Xbox Series X. The promise of unlimited access to more than 100 AAA games (and still growing) for as little as $10 each month has drawn in more than 25 million subscribers.
Like Game Pass, Spartacus will combine existing PlayStation services into one all-inclusive service with tiered offerings. It’ll be a welcome boon to PlayStation’s software sales — but, more than a year after Game Pass’s launch, it’ll have to be very enticing to catch up with Xbox’s numbers.
Key differences — All we really know about PlayStation’s subscription service is that, like Game Pass, it will offer a smattering of newer games alongside classic hits. The idea of different membership tiers is one Xbox only dabbles in; access on either console or PC is $9.99 per month, while full access to all Game Pass perks is $14.99 per month.
But the biggest difference comes in the form of new title releases, which, as Bloomberg’s sources are concerned, will not be dropping on Spartacus on launch day at all. Game Pass, on the other hand, has made Day One Game Pass drops one of its most compelling selling points. The report specifically mentions that God of War Ragnarök, one of PlayStation’s most-anticipated forthcoming releases, will not be available on the subscription service.
Can it compete? — It isn’t at all surprising that PlayStation would want to move into the subscription gaming pass market, given just how well it’s done for Microsoft. Whether or not Spartacus succeeds in being profitable will ultimately come down to what, exactly, it offers PlayStation owners.
The top-tier subscription is rumored to include significantly more content than lower-priced tiers, including backward-compatible games from older PlayStation consoles and extended demos. This kind of content would surely pull in the devoted and nostalgic amongst PlayStation owners.
And then there’s PlayStation Now, the company’s cloud streaming service. If Sony manages to upgrade the PS Now experience on PC and older consoles, that alone could be enough reason for gamers to subscribe.
Now that Microsoft has agreed to buy Activision Blizzard for $70 billion, it’s more important than ever for PlayStation to leverage its own extensive catalog of exclusives. Spartacus could be just the way to make that a reality.