PlayStation's rival to Xbox Game Pass sounds half-baked in this report

It sounds like Project Spartacus is facing the most frightening boss of all: corporate meetings

Rivet in Ratchet & Clank / Sony PS5 console / Spider-Man Miles Morales
(Image credit: Sony)

There's a famous joke that a camel is a horse drawn by a committee, its beauty and power compromised by endless amendments. Sony's rival to Xbox Game Pass, Project Spartacus, is starting to sound awfully humpy.

One of the things I really like about Game Pass, other than the games, is the simplicity of it. There are two versions, both of which give you access to the same games library and the same day-one exclusives, and if you want even more then you can go for the Ultimate option. That adds PC gaming, the EA Play catalogue and Xbox Cloud Gaming.

According to Engadget, though, Sony's offering is a lot less straightforward. Where the film of the same name promised a "thrilling adventure that electrified the world", Project Spartacus sounds more confusing than exciting so far.

Three isn't the magic number

Instead of two different tiers, it seems that Sony will offer three. Currently dubbed Essential, Extra and Premium, the tiers will cost $10, $13 and $16 per month.

The first tier, Essential, will be PlayStation Plus with a new name. And, er, that's it. You'll get online play and some new free games each month.

The second tier, Extra, will give you access to the same monthly games as the Essential tier, as well as the Game Pass-style catalogue of "hundreds" of older games. Engadget suggests that it may be the same catalogue as PS Now – which would mean this library of older games wouldn't include PS5 games, and is implied not include things that have previously been free via PS Plus (or, I guess, the Essential tier).

And the third tier, Premium, will add "game trials" so you can play new games before their official release. Sony hasn't said whether it'll be like EA's game trials, where your play time is limited to a set number of hours, but I bet it will be.

So far, so underwhelming. What about the first-party exclusives being part of it? The PS5 equivalent of Halo: Infinite and other big hitters – such as the new Ratchet & Clank or Spider-Man: Miles Morales, pictured above? So far that's a big "maybe" with a sprinkling of "probably not", although PS Now is getting the day one release of Shadow Warrior 3 next month so perhaps things are changing. 

I love both my Xbox Series X and my PS5, but I can't see myself wanting to subscribe to Spartacus as well as Game Pass: Sony's business model is based primarily on selling very expensive exclusives such as Horizon Forbidden West and Ghostwire: Tokyo, neither of which Sony would want to put on Spartacus, and I can't say I've found any of the recent PS Plus releases particularly thrilling. I suspect for me at least the way I'll play slightly older titles on PS5 is the way I play them now: wait until the hardcore guys and girls have played them and then buy them pre-owned on eBay.

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written thirteen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote another seven books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com).