At last, Project Spartacus is here: Sony's long-awaited gaming subscription service replaces the existing PS Plus and PS Now services for PS4 and PS5 with a new, three-tier PlayStation Plus service. And as much as I enjoy being proved right, I'm disappointed that the service is pretty much what I anticipated: Game Pass, but not as good.
Sony was never going to follow Microsoft's lead and put blockbusters on its subscription service from day one. But that's one of the things that makes Game Pass such great value for money. Without it, it looks like PS Plus is just an expensive library of old games.
The price isn't right
There are three problems with PS Plus as I see it: the basic tier, the middle tier and the premium tier.
The basic tier is basically what PS Plus is now: two monthly games, cloud storage and multiplayer. I can't remember the last time my PS Plus subscription had a monthly game I wanted to play, and the discounts don't impress because Sony's online prices are hilariously high. I'm only keeping my sub going for the multiplayer.
The second tier is the first actual Game Pass rival, but it's really just PS Now with a new name. The big-name games in the press announcement are all quite old – mostly 2018 and 2019 plus Miles Morales (2020); the only really recent title in the announcement is Returnal (2021) – and while the PS Now catalogue is big, it doesn't include many things I actually want to play or haven't already played to death on older consoles.
So that leaves the most expensive tier, PlayStation Plus Extra. That's the £13.49/$17.99 per month one, and it'll stream PS1, PS2, PSP, PS3 and PS4 games. It has the same catalogue as the middle tier, but it also gets 340 "beloved classic games", which is marketing speak for "very old". Also, you get to play time-limited game trials, or what we used to call "demos". Presumably those trials won't be for games that'll then come to PlayStation Plus, because Sony wants to protect those £70 boxed games and even more expensive special edition downloads.
Don't get me wrong. If you want to play loads of old games or stream PS3 classics to your PC, that's great. You'll have lots of fun. But for me the thing that makes Game Pass a must-have is that it enables me to play new games without having to drop sixty to seventy quid on them, so if I like them that's a big win and if I don't I'm not out of pocket. That doesn't mean I don't or won't buy games too – I'm currently loving Horizon: Forbidden West – but I can't afford to take risks. On Xbox, I can, and I do.
I've said before that I think Game Pass is the gaming deal of the decade. I think PS Plus makes that even clearer.