A recent Bloomberg report from reputable industry insider Jason Schreier suggests that Sony might be gearing up to change up its offerings in the subscription service department. "Project Spartacus" is currently rumored to be in development as a direct competitor to Microsoft and its highly-praised subscription service, Xbox Game Pass.
The last couple of years has been instrumental for the success of Xbox Game Pass, as a ton of high-profile releases have launched day-and-date to the platform — giving gamers more than enough reason to jump into the ecosystem. As such, Sony answering back to its competitors is of paramount importance, but from the looks of the project, Spartacus doesn’t seem to be doing enough to satiate the wants of all fans.
Project Spartacus’ Tiered Structure
Sony’s Spartacus program is currently envisioned as an amalgamation of its already two existing subscription services: PS Plus and PS Now. It will supposedly adopt a tiered pricing structure, wherein the lowest tier will offer the benefits of PS Plus (a handful of free games every month), and the ability to play online multiplayer. The second tier is supposed to account for both streaming (or playing locally) via PS Now, as well as the benefits of PS Plus. The highest-tier will then account for all of this, and give gamers access to some extended demos of games, plus classic games from the PS1, PS2, and PS3 generations.
It’s a great concept, and certainly could have the potential to be integral in driving the sales of Sony’s hardware. PS Plus games have arguably grown better in quality over the last few months, with January’s offerings including Atlus’ Persona 5 Strikers and Dirt 5. PS Now has also been expanding its offerings as of late, with great third-party games like NieR: Automata, Ghostrunner, as well as first-party games like The Last of Us 2 and God of War.
Plus, there are quite a few classic games that longtime fans of Sony would be more than willing to replay on modern systems. Games like Tenchu on the PS1, Sly Cooper on the PS2, or even Metal Gear Solid 4 on the PS3, are just a handful of many games stuck on the systems which would get a new life through this initiative.
Project Spartacus: Standing Toe To Toe Against Xbox Game Pass
For all its strengths and the benefits It's supposed to provide, Project Spartacus pales in comparison to Xbox Game Pass. Microsoft’s subscription service has many of its first-party classics from previous generations in its library, a healthy selection of both new and old indie games, a ton of high-profile third-party games, and most importantly, the entirety of Xbox Game Studios’ output coming to Game Pass on the same day of release. It has roughly been estimated that Xbox Game Pass added over $6,300 worth of games throughout 2021.
While Sony has some higher-quality exclusive franchises spanning across console generations, the value proposition just doesn’t add up to what Microsoft is offering right now. Furthermore, what would make these inconsistencies even more impactful is the price point of both these services. A subscription of PS Plus costs $10 a month, and PS Now also costs $10 a month. Add in the cost of bringing older games to the service, and it’s hard to imagine Spartacus’ highest-tiered subscription costing any less than what an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription costs right now ($15/month).
To be fair, Microsoft didn’t just burst onto the scene with Xbox Game Pass offering all the benefits that fans love today. In retrospect, Xbox Game Pass’ initial offerings were similar to what Spartacus would be offering at launch. However, given the fact that both parties would most likely be asking the same amount from fans and that Sony seems to be positioning it as a direct competitor, Spartacus’ initial impressions don’t seem quite good enough. That said, it doesn’t mean that it’s bad by any stretch, and fans should be optimistic about it improving further down the line.
Xbox Game Pass is available now for PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S.
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