Over the past decade, the entertainment industry has witnessed a surge in subscription-based services, exemplified by the success of Netflix. This reflects the increasing consumer preference for subscription-based content delivery. This trend has inspired major industry players like Sony and Microsoft to enter the market with gaming-as-a-service models, such as PS Plus and Xbox Game Pass. However, after several years in the industry, a clearer picture is emerging regarding the future prospects of both models, and things do not seem favorable for PlayStation Plus.
Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Plus Evolution
When Game Pass debuted in 2017, it was seen as a pivotal moment by industry experts. Instead of the usual practice of selling games one by one, Game Pass introduced a novel idea: a monthly subscription giving access to a broad collection of games. In the beginning, the offerings were limited and resulted in a dull response. Microsoft, however, figured out the key to success in this subscription model by featuring a wide range of games at an affordable price. This seemingly simple strategy turned out to be a game-changer in the industry, transforming how gamers access and enjoy their favorite titles.
PC Plus, PlayStation’s rival to Xbox Game Pass, made its debut in June 2010 as a premium subscription service. Initially, it offered a range of features, including early access to demos, exclusive themes, and discounts. For several years, it also provided a monthly free game to subscribers. However, slowly, it became evident that it was falling behind the Game Pass model.
Game Pass Thrives But PlayStation Plus Faces Tough Times
In January 2022, Xbox Game Pass had reported an impressive 25 million subscribers. Furthermore, the Microsoft Xbox Network boasted a substantial overall reach with an estimated 120 million monthly active users. This indicated a wide and engaged user base within the Xbox ecosystem.
On the other hand, PlayStation has a subscriber base of approximately 47.4 million users as of March 2023. This number represented a slight decline from its peak of 48 million subscriptions, which was reached in December 2021.
The exact cause of this decline in subscribers is not entirely clear, but many in the gaming community believe it can be attributed to the introduction of the tier-based subscription model. This model, which includes PlayStation Plus Essential, Extra, and Premium tiers, has faced criticism for what some perceive as an unfair distribution of features among these tiers.
Xbox Game Pass Numbers May Plunge With Starfield Effect
Microsoft consistently expanded the Game Pass library by adding new titles regularly, including first-party games at launch. Microsoft invested heavily in first-party game development, with studios like Bethesda contributing blockbuster titles to Game Pass, such as Redfall and Starfield.
While Redfall didn’t quite live up to expectations, it’s Starfield that has emerged as Xbox’s savior for the future. Starfield is currently generating substantial buzz and is being touted as the gaming highlight of the decade. This anticipation is well-founded, given the immense attention it has garnered since its initial announcement.
With the anticipated success of Starfield, Xbox Game Pass exemplifies the wisdom of seizing opportunities when they arise. It emerges as the top choice among gamers who want to try their hands on Starfield. Understandably, why not take advantage of the chance to experience a major blockbuster at a fraction of the cost?
PlayStation Plus Subscription Price Hike Timing Seems Really Wrong
On the other hand, PS Plus decided to raise the subscription price. It was hard to digest the timing of this hike, especially considering that their rivals were already offering big releases. More importantly, the increase was significant and not easy to overlook. PlayStation recently decided to increase the subscription charges as follows:
- PlayStation Plus Essential ($59.99 to $79.99).
- PS Plus Extra ($99.99 to $134.99).
- PS Plus Premium ($119.99 to $159.99).
This decision garnered significant criticism from the gaming community, with players expressing their discontent. Some individuals on Reddit, for instance, questioned the idea behind an $80 increase for online play, particularly when multiplayer games do not primarily run on Sony’s servers. Others contended that the enhanced features of the Premium subscription did not merit the $30-40 price increase.
In the end, it is up to the PlayStation team to decide if there is any card in their deck to counter Game Pass’s Starfield effect. Not to mention, Game Pass is not slowing down, as it is already lined up with other big titles such as Payday 3, Lies of P, and many more. However, on the hardware front, Sony has been performing well and is expected to continue growing. Similarly, Starfield is also bolstering Xbox sales.