Sony has been talking about its Game Pass competitor for months now, but fans finally have some dates for the PlayStation Plus relaunch. In a recent blog post, PlayStation Network has explained more details regarding the upcoming relaunch, which will angle the subscription service as a direct competitor to Microsoft’s extremely popular Game Pass service.
The upcoming PlayStation Plus relaunch will see the service split into three tiers. The first tier, dubbed the “Essential’ subscription, will essentially be the same thing that players are already paying $60 per year for right now. It will still allow users to access online functionality for PlayStation games and will continue offering a handful of games at no extra cost.
The next two tiers, “Extra” and “Premium,” are where things get interesting. Players who opt for these pricier subscriptions will get access to a wide library of games from across Sony’s history. Today, we’re looking at the release dates for the upcoming service relaunch, which games are confirmed for the various tiers, and which games we’d like to see make their way to the service.
Why Is Sony Changing PlayStation Plus?
The PlayStation Plus service started as Sony’s answer to Microsoft’s popular Xbox Live platform. While most PC gamers enjoy online play at no extra cost, those who play on consoles must fork over money on a monthly or yearly basis to access multiplayer servers. As Microsoft shifted its Xbox Live service, Sony kept pace by making similar changes to PlayStation Plus.
When Microsoft started offering a handful of free games each month through its “Games With Gold” promotion, Sony followed suit. However, Microsoft’s biggest hit with its online program has been its Game Pass subscription. The program is as simple as it is enticing: for $10 per month, users can access a massive library of games from both Microsoft and third-party developers.
Sony’s answer to Game Pass was, ostensibly, PS Now. The streaming service started out as a way for PlayStation users to stream older games for a monthly fee, but the program never received the same attention or word of mouth as its competitor. The upcoming PlayStation Network relaunch will essentially roll PS Now and PS Plus into one service in order to better compete with Game Pass.
When Will the New PlayStation Plus Debut?
The new version of the PlayStation Network will be here sooner than some critics expected. In a recent blog post, Sony confirmed that the relaunch will be available in Asia first, with the service going live on that continent on May 24. Japanese gamers won’t need to wait long to try the service out, either: it’ll be live there starting on June 2.
PlayStation owners in the US will be able to access the new service starting on June 13. That’s also the day that users in South America, Mexico, and Canada will be able to access the game streaming service.
Finally, PlayStation players in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand will be able to access the service starting on June 23. Some tech journalists have speculated that this staggered rollout will allow Sony to keep the servers from getting overwhelmed as soon as the new games go live.
Sony hasn’t yet announced the Essential Tier games for June when the relaunch will go live. However, the service will still be necessary for users to access otherwise free-to-play multiplayer games like Fortnite and Rocket League.
The Essential Tier is pretty much the same PlayStation Plus that players have been using for years. It’ll still cost $60 per year, it’ll still give you access to multiplayer servers and exclusive discounts, and it also will continue to offer a handful of games each month at no extra cost.
However, some commentators have pointed out that they fear the new focus on the higher tiers of PlayStation Plus could eat into the monthly game offerings. Xbox players have pointed out that the quality of games offered in the Games with Gold program has dipped since Microsoft has been focusing on getting users to subscribe to Game Pass.
The Extra Tier is one of two new products that will be available starting in June. It will allow users to access a recent back catalog of PS4 and PS5 games. This service will cost $100 annually ($40 more than the existing PS Plus subscription) and will likely be the most popular new offering from Sony.
Many fans expect the Extra Tier to entice newcomers because it includes new titles like Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Returnal, and the recent remake of Demon’s Souls. Given that those are three of the best games on the system, it’s not surprising that Sony would want to lead off its new service with them.
This tier will also include access to PS4 games like the excellent Horizon: Zero Dawn, Infamous First Light, The WipEout Omega Collection, and the entire Uncharted series. In short, if you missed the PS4 era and just got a PS5, the Extra Tier is the most cost-effective way for you to catch up on all the games you didn’t get a chance to play over the past nine years.
At the top of the heap is the massive Premium Tier, which will retail for a whopping $120 per year. What do you get for the cost of two brand-new games? Well, Sony held the biggest surprises back for this tier: users will be able to access classic PS1, PS2, and PS3 games through the Premium subscription.
Sony has already announced a handful of classic games that will be available to Premium subscribers at launch. These include Ape Escape, Tekken 2, and Syphon Filter, some of the most critically acclaimed PlayStation 1 titles.
This tier will also include access to a handful of PlayStation Portable titles. The often-overlooked Sony handheld system was home to a handful of cult classic games like Lumines and Gravity Rush, and some titles like Super Stardust Portable have already been confirmed for the Premium tier.
PlayStation 3 Games
Notably, users won’t be able to download PS3 games through the service. Instead, they’ll only be available as streaming games. In some regions, the Premium Tier won’t offer this functionality due to internet infrastructure. In these areas, the third tier will instead be called Deluxe.
PlayStation 3 games have to be streamed to the PS5 because the two systems have incompatible base system architecture. As such, Sony will emulate the PS3 games on hardware stored in a server bank and then stream the game data to PS5 users over the internet. This is the same technology that the company incorporated with the PS Now service repurposed to function as a component of PlayStation Plus.
Some users online have expressed frustration with the streaming-only status of PS3 titles. However, there’s not really another way to play the games on a PS5. The PS3’s unusual Cell Processor architecture makes emulating its games extremely complicated. Since most other computers and game consoles run on simpler x86 architecture, PlayStation 3 titles are essentially written in another “language.”
Where Are the PlayStation 2 Games?
There’s still no word on native versions of PlayStation 2 games. While users who subscribe to the Premium tier will be able to access the PS4 remakes of Jak and Daxter and Siren, the announcement doesn’t include any original PlayStation 2 titles.
It’s unclear whether this is a choice Sony is making on purpose. Unlike the PS3, the PS2 doesn’t have a core architecture that’s incompatible with the PS5. However, the lack of native PS2 titles in the Premium tier is noteworthy, as Sony went out of its way to mention the platform when it announced the PlayStation Plus relaunch.
With any luck, this is just an oddity from the launch announcement and not an indication that the company is unwilling to port PS2 games to the service.
Other Games We Want
While Sony has announced a massive volume of games for the service, there are still some glaring omissions from the initial list. The company notes in the blog post that these games are just the launch titles and that more games will be joining the service over time. Hopefully, this means they’ll continue to listen to player feedback and add beloved older titles and brand-new PS5 games alike.
For one thing, there are only three PS5 games listed for the launch window. While all three are excellent, it would be encouraging to see Sony include recent first-party games like Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart on the Extra tier. This would give the Extra tier more value for newcomers to the PS5 ecosystem.
We’d also love to see Sony go all-in on the classic titles. Metal Gear Solid, Spyro, Crash Bandicoot, Shadow of the Colussus, Sly Cooper, and tons of Final Fantasy titles would all go a long way toward making the service feel like a living history of Sony’s storied games catalog. Once they add all these titles, the only thing we’ll need is more hours in the day to play all these games!