Amid reports Sony is overhauling its PlayStation Plus service into something more closely resembling Game Pass, Xbox head Phil Spencer has said he thinks it’s an “inevitability” competitors will begin adopting the model because it’s “the right answer”.
“I don’t mean it to sound like we’ve got it all figured out [at Xbox]”, Spencer told IGN when quizzed on the recent reports involving Sony, “but I think the right answer is allowing your customers to play the games they want to play, where they want to play them, and giving them choice about how they build their library, and being transparent with them about what our plans are in terms of our PC initiatives and our cross-gen initiatives and other things.”
“So when I hear others doing things like Game Pass or coming to PC,” he continued, “it makes sense to me because I think that’s the right answer… I don’t really look at it as validation [of Xbox’s strategies]. I actually, when I’m talking to our teams, I talk about it as an inevitability.”
As such, Spencer says its critical Xbox “continue to innovate, continue to compete, because the things that we’re doing might be advantages that we have in the market today, but they’re just based on us going first, not that we’ve created something that no one else can go create.”
“I like it, because it feeds our energy on what are the next things that we should be working on as we continue to build out the things that we’ve done in the past. Because I think the right answer is to ship great games, ship them on PC, ship them on console, ship them on cloud, make them available Day 1 in the subscription. And I expect that’s what our competitor will do.”
Rumours of a PlayStation Plus overhaul that would see the service expanded out to offer features more inline with Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass first surfaced in December when Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier reported Sony was seeking to consolidate PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now into a single subscription service – code-named Spartacus – starting this spring.
The move would reportedly see Sony ditching the PlayStation Now brand altogether and taking a three-tier subscription approach to PlayStation Plus. Tier 1 would be functionally identical to the existing PlayStation Plus offering, required to play the majority of PlayStation games online, while the second would give subscribers access to a large catalogue of PlayStation 4 games, with PS5 titles to follow. Those opting for the third subscription tier would reportedly also gain streaming functionality – said to include extended demos and a library of classic PS1, PS2, PS3, and PSP games – making for an all-in package similar to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.
As for Sony’s tentative steps in bringing its PlayStation back catalogue to PC, they’re certainly having an impact. God of War, which launched on the platform last week, saw a peak of 73,529 concurrent players on Steam this weekend, smashing those of its previous two releases, Days Gone and Horizon Zero Dawn.