PS Now, the Sony answer to on-demand gaming competition, could be going away. UK retailers have reported that the prepaid subscription cards for the service are no longer being shipped by Sony. Within the next week, these cards won’t be available at GAME stores. Some users are worried that this might mean bad news for the availability of the service.
There is a reason though, and it might be good news. The answer is a new service called Spartacus, or in other words, Sony’s answer to cloud gaming and on-demand services, rolled into one. If this is true, it won’t be just the UK affected, but we will have to wait and see. Sony reportedly has an Xbox Game Pass alternative in the works, a tiered service codenamed Spartacus, and it’s been quiet for a while now.
What is Spartacus?
According to Bloomberg, Spartacus is meant to combine PlayStation Plus and PS Now and have three tiers. The timers will offer levels of service akin to Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass. The company is also making inroads into competing with Project xCloud, the Microsoft cloud service, although this doesn’t appear related to Spartacus.
Most information available on the future of PS Now and Spartacus says that the library will include a litany of PS1, PS2, PS3 and PSP games. Spartacus is planned for a Spring 2022 launch. Pricing is one thing we remain unclear on.
As of this writing, each of Sony’s subscription services costs $60 for a year, $25 for three months, or $10 for one month. Xbox Game Pass offers similar pricing for access to their game library, and also includes the Xbox Live service as part of Game Pass Ultimate. PlayStation Now was originally priced at $20 per month before a significant price drop in late 2019. We would likely see Sony push the bundled price back up to $15-$20 starting, with higher tiers running into the $25 range, or higher.
What are the tiers?
It’s likely that the pricing tiers will offer a range of bonuses, including access to free content in PS Now. From what sources have revealed, the first pricing tier will include the PlayStation Plus service, as well as basic access to PS Now. The second tier would include that, plus a few free games for both PS4 and PS5. It’s worth noting that PlayStation Plus already includes free games each month, as well as a curated collection of 20 games, such as The Last of Us Remastered, Monster Hunter World, and God of War. it’s likely that Sony will roll out additions to these bundles at higher price tiers in Spartacus. The retro games will likely be pushed into the highest pricing tier. This would be similar to Nintendo’s recent NSO Expansion Pack, and the included N64 and Genesis emulators.
Microsoft’s Game Pass retains a definite edge. Given the wide array of games and support for PC gaming, it has a bit of an availability advantage over Sony. Microsoft has also been pushing hard to get big-name video games onto their service. What with that $7.5 billion purchase of Bethesda. It’s certainly going to be intriguing to see how Sony responds to those kinds of moves.