Sony has reiterated its decision to exclude first-party PS5 games from its PS Plus subscription, claiming that doing so would “degrade” the quality of its games. While Sony’s chief financial officer Hiroki Totoki did not specifically mention Microsoft, it appears that some shade was thrown.
The most compelling incentive to join Xbox Game Pass is Microsoft’s promise to make all of its first-party games available on the subscription service from the start. Sure, you get access to hundreds of other games as well, but the fact that you’ll get Halo Infinite, Forza Horizon 5, and Fable 4 for free at launch is a huge plus. Sony is under pressure to give a similar incentive with its revamped PS Plus, but it has rejected the idea, claiming that it will degrade its games.
Through a recent financial call (transcribed by @Genki JPN), Sony’s CFO Hiroki Totoki noted, “If we distribute [first-party games] on subscription services, we may need to minimise the investment needed for [excellent products].” “This will degrade the quality of first-party titles, which is a worry of ours.”
“Our present philosophy is to have development expenditures and suitable R&D investment for quality products, which will strengthen the platform and business in the long run,” says the company.
Is it already too late?
Sony said in March that it would relaunch PS Plus as a multi-tier programme that would combine its current offering with its game streaming service, PS Now, and access to a considerably larger game portfolio. With Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass allowing access to first-party games as well as a large library of third-party games, the update was long overdue. It costs more, but your monthly charge provides more actual benefit.
From June, three categories of PS Plus will be available: Playstation Plus Essential, Playstation Plus Extra, and Playstation Plus Premium. Essential allows you access to the same services as previously, including online multiplayer, Playstation Store discounts, and two free PS Plus titles every month. Extra unlocks a library of 400 PS4 and PS5 titles, while Premium unlocks all of that as well as access to a retro game library.
The library of first-party games has been the main strength of Sony’s system in these early years of PS5 and Xbox Series X. Gran Turismo 7, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, Horizon Forbidden West, and even Astro’s Playroom have all praised the console. Microsoft, on the other hand, hasn’t had quite the same run of success — Forza Horizon 5 is a clear winner, but Halo Infinite received mixed reviews due to its piecemeal release.
People are already buying the consoles for the exclusives, thus they’re willing to buy them in addition to the console, so Sony has less incentive to entice them with a subscription service. With Xbox, it’s more of a bet that those valuable exclusives will arrive – and given the spate of studio purchases Microsoft has made in the last five years, there’s plenty of reason to assume they will.
The question is whether Sony will feel pressured to bring its exclusives to PS Plus in order to compete with Microsoft’s new studios, or whether Microsoft will follow Sony’s precedent and keep first-party games distinct from its subscription service.