Xbox Games Pass is still superior to new PlayStation Plus in one key way

Andrew Highton
ps plus logoSony

Sony has combined its major subscription services, PlayStation Plus and PS Now, into multiple, attractive packages, but their different promotional tiers have ignored one of the main Xbox Game Pass selling points – day one exclusives.

After a lot of discussions, rumors, and speculation, Project Spartacus has now been fully realized and the Xbox Game Pass rival has had the world talking.

A simple PS Plus membership will remain the same, and one tier will offer all the PlayStation games imaginable, but Sony has overlooked a huge hook in day one PlayStation exclusives.

Considered to be the flagship and standard-bearer for regular, out-of-this-world AAA titles, Sony has forgotten to consider the prospect of any new ones being added to the subscription service and we consider this to be a huge missed step. I believe this boils down to several key factors.

crash bandicoot looking behind him and smiling at the cameraActivision
It’s a testament to Sony’s power that Crash Bandicoot is one of many franchises they have created.

Sony loves their PlayStation retro library

Microsoft’s Xbox brand hasn’t been around as long as Sony and it hasn’t spread its wings into the handheld market. However, PlayStation’s lineage is long and prosperous.

Dating back nearly 30 years now, Sony has released multiple mainline home consoles, as well as several handheld spin-offs. In that timeframe, the Japanese behemoth has released a staggering amount of games, conjured umpteen memorable franchises, and has been a home for must-own exclusives.

It’s one of the reasons why the restructured PlayStation Plus tiers have made its premium one include the oldest games as part of its selling point. Whilst blockbusters such as Horizon Forbidden West, Gran Turismo 7, and God of War Ragnarok represent the Sony of today, it’s their past that many people still identify with and seek to rekindle.

By giving players access to over 300 extra titles that include games from the earliest stages of the brand’s lifecycle, Sony believes that is a big enough reason for players to invest and subscribe.

With the prospect of adding many more rare and valuable PS1 games that are selling for 3-digits on eBay right now, surely that’s great value, right?

advert for sony playstation 4 consoleSony
The PS4 outsold the Xbox One by ridiculous numbers.

Sony believes PlayStation towers above the competition

The PS3’s launch was positively disastrous, and it took the blue brand many years to catch up to Xbox. These mistakes were rectified for the PS4 vs Xbox One war and the Japanese company took that generation by an absolute landslide.

We’re now well into the ninth-generation battle, and, once again, PlayStation is comfortably ahead in the home console war. But I would hazard a guess that they believe they are so far ahead that they don’t need to offer their most exclusive games as part of a subscription package.

Xbox Game Pass owners have been treated well with a ton of Xbox exclusive games releasing straight on the service on day one. Again, you’d argue that it has to try and recoup some lost fans over the years and at the very least retain the ones it has.

According to VGC, PS5 sales are likely to be somewhere in the region of double the Xbox next-gen sales, and you’d have to think the only reason the gap isn’t wider is because of the documented shortage of PS5s.

kratos and atreus looking at each other in god of war ragnarokSanta Monica Studios
Sony are obviously very confident that God of War Ragnarok will sell enough on its own.

Day one PlayStation exclusives are a get out of jail free card

As proven by the Store controversy in 2021 when Sony threatened to shut down the PS3 and PS Vita stores, they are not immune to making mistakes and inciting negative reactions from its loyal fanbase.

They’ve done it before and will almost certainly do so again. This is why it could be good to hold a ‘day one exclusive’ card as a contingency plan in case things inevitably go south again. “Annoyed that we’ve removed a beloved PlayStation feature? Then we’re pleased to announce that all PlayStation exclusives are free on day one for PS Plus Premium users!”

Cue the fanfare, whip out the party hats, and with the fickle society of 2022, it’s that simple. It’s an effective bargaining chip that Sony can hold onto until they encounter a perilous scenario in which they need to bolster their profile.

microsoft xbox advert for game pass ultimateMicrosoft
If Sony do start offering day one exclusives, what would that mean for Xbox Game Pass?

Should Sony have made day one exclusives part of Project Spartacus?

In my eyes, yes. It feels like few companies either want or know how to strike whilst the iron is hot.

The PlayStation 5 is the top dog, and if more processor chips can be created or a PS5 Slim can be brought out that can be manufactured easier, then console sales will shoot up even more. Instead of capitalizing on this and securing this generation’s war in relative comfort, this kind of action just leaves a hint of doubt.

It also questions how much the company cares about its fans compared to its profit margins and revenue.

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate which includes everything: Live Gold, free games, cloud play, etc, is $14.99 a month. According to the missions statement for Project Spartacus, the Premium tier will cost $17.99 a month. That’s $3 more with no day one exclusives.

Do PlayStation gamers really care about backward compatibility and the desire to play classic games this much? I guess only time will tell.

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