Sony is planning to launch a new subscription game service similar to Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass, according to a Bloomberg (opens in new tab) report, which says the service is expected to go live in spring 2022.
Codenamed Spartacus, the service will merge the existing PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now plans into a single offering. Documents reviewed by the site indicate that the PlayStation Plus branding will be maintained while PlayStation Now will be phased out. Currently, PlayStation Plus is required for most online gaming on PlayStation consoles and offers a selection of free monthly games, while PlayStation Now is used to stream or download a variety of older PlayStation games.
Specifics of the new service are still being finalized but the current plan, according to the report, is for a three-tier service: The first tier will be essentially what PlayStation Plus is right now; the second tier will include access to a number of PlayStation 4 and PS5 games; and the third tier will top it off with extended demos, game streaming, and access to PS1, PS2, PS3, and PSP games.
While none of this is officially confirmed, it's not at all surprising that Sony would be planning a bigger subscription-based game library. Xbox Game Pass is a tremendous deal for gamers (opens in new tab) right now, and it's also a big success for Microsoft: It's currently estimated to have more than 20 million subscribers (opens in new tab). That's 20 million people chucking money at Microsoft every month, a nice, reliable revenue stream by any measure, and it's a big draw for future potential console buyers that Sony really can't counter right now.
It also has us worried about our already meager sense of ownership over the games we play dwindling even further, but for many gamers the option to dabble in lots of games for a monthly fee is undeniably attractive compared to paying $60 or more for each one.
The expectation is that the service will be available on both the PlayStation 4 and PS5 consoles to ensure the largest possible number of potential users. The question for us, of course, is whether it will also be offered in any form on PC. Until Sony's recent embrace of PC game releases (opens in new tab), PlayStation Now is how PC gamers were able to access PlayStation exclusive games: The cloud streaming service launched on PC in 2016 and, with a few caveats, it worked quite well (opens in new tab). It may not seem quite as essential now that we're getting native versions of God of War (opens in new tab) and Uncharted (opens in new tab), but I'd be willing to bet that there are a lot of PC owners out there who would leap at the chance to stream PS2 classics on their current rigs.
I've reached out to Sony to ask about PC access to this new service, and while I don't expect a reply I will definitely update if I get one.