Sony Still Prefers to Wait Before Releasing Premium Titles on Subscription Services

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At a Fireside chat hosted during GI Live: London, Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida (now head of indie at PlayStation, previously president of Sony Worldwide Studios) discussed the Japanese company’s approach to releasing premium titles. Yoshida explained that Sony still prefers to keep these games out of subscription services (like its own PS Plus) until they enter a so-called lifecycle management phase.

The new PS Plus has tiers. Essential is like the old PS Plus, we still release two or three new games every month and a new tier, Extra, has a catalog of hundreds of games for people to play. For Extra, our approach is that we like to help the publishers’ lifecycle management. I was managing first-party, so I know that it’s like in the movies — a movie comes out at the theatre first, then goes to pay-per-view, or a subscription service, or free TV, every time generating new revenue and reaching out to a broader audience.

In the same kind of way, we believe in the premium release of a title at launch and after maybe six months, or three months, or three years, when the game’s sales come down, inclusion into this service, PS Plus Extra, can help introduce these games to new, broader audiences. Some people might have missed these games when they came out and it’s a great chance to play and generate word-of-mouth, or if there’s DLC or a sequel coming out, we can help elevate interest to a broader audience about the franchise. So we are encouraging publishers to make use of these services in managing the lifecycle of each title.

This starkly contrasts with Microsoft’s strategy, which is essentially centered on the Game Pass subscription service. As such, Microsoft is keen on releasing premium titles day and date on Game Pass.

That said, Yoshida highlighted how Sony is indeed experimenting with select day and date releases on PS Plus, such as Stray.

Stray was something different because we put it on day one. Luckily as I said, Stray was one of the most popular games when we did the PlayStation Showcase. PS Plus Extra is a subset of PS Plus audience; we haven’t announced the numbers, but we’ve been announcing the PS Plus overall user base of around 50 million. The Extra tier is a smaller subset, but by including and featuring Stray in this upper tier service, I hope we contributed to promoting the title when it came out. The game did extremely well in terms of sales but it’s still early days, so it’s kind of experimental for us at this point.

Would you like Sony to follow Microsoft’s example or should they stick to their own strategy in this area? Let us know in the comments.

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