Sony has officially revealed its new PlayStation Plus subscription tiers, which will be available later this year, and the new “Extra” and “Premium” levels will give you access to many PlayStation titles’ back catalogs. If you want to play historic PS3, PS2, PS1, and PSP games, you’ll have to pay for “Premium,” the most expensive option, which means Sony is following Nintendo’s lead and putting some of its older games behind its most expensive subscription.
Sony isn’t the first company to use a subscription to gain access to classic games. For years, Sony has offered access to PS4, PS3, and PS2 titles as part of PlayStation Now, a subscription service that is independent from PlayStation Plus. However, rather of leveraging the Plus shakeup to bring additional titles to the normal tier, Sony has decided to utilize classic games as a carrot to entice users to subscribe to Premium, which will cost $17.99 per month, $49.99 for three months, or $119.99 for a year. That yearly charge is essentially the same as what you’d pay for a year of both Plus and Now, though Sony promises that Now subscribers will be transferred to the new Plus Premium.
Nintendo’s Nintendo Switch Online service follows a similar tiered pricing model. That subscription began in September 2018 with access to a handful of NES games, and Nintendo added SNES games nearly a year later — all for the modest price of $3.99 each month, $7.99 for three months, or $19.99 for a year. However, if you want to play Nintendo’s N64 or Sega Genesis titles on your Switch, you’ll have to pay $49.99 for a complete year of the Expansion Pack, which is more than double the usual individual annual subscription.
With its Game Pass collection, Microsoft, on the other hand, has adopted a different strategy. Whether you subscribe for the lowest-tier $9.99 per month Xbox Game Pass or the more expensive $14.99 per month Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, you may play the same Microsoft games on your Xbox. Microsoft has also put a lot of effort into backward compatibility, which means you can play a lot of older Xbox titles on the Xbox Series X / S without having to pay for a subscription.
Sony’s approach may aggravate possible grievances because the corporation has previously downplayed the relevance of its old catalog. In a 2017 interview with Time, PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan said:
“When we’ve dabbled with backwards compatibility, I can say it is one of those features that is much requested, but not actually used much. That, and I was at a Gran Turismo event recently where they had PS1, PS2, PS3 and PS4 games, and the PS1 and the PS2 games, they looked ancient, like why would anybody play this?”
In an interview with Axios in 2021, Ryan admitted that he might have been more clear:
“The point I was trying to make — obviously not very well — was just how great the PS4 version looked and how far the series had evolved. I certainly wasn’t trying to be disrespectful to our heritage.”
However, the 2017 remark still stings, especially when you consider how influential numerous PlayStation games have been in video game history, such as the Metal Gear Solid series, Jak & Daxter, and Shadow of the Colossus.
Despite the fact that many older PlayStation games have been remade or ported to other platforms, it’s still fun to play them in their original form. While the PS5 is backward compatible with practically all PS4 titles, the only way to play PS3 and PS2 games on Sony’s newest platform is through the PlayStation Now service, which is on its way out, and the redesigned PlayStation Plus, which will be available soon.
Subscriptions, on the other hand, provide an easy way to preserve retro games that are otherwise difficult to come by. Subscriptions are one way to keep older games accessible as some digital game storefronts close and technology becomes antiquated. However, Sony — and Nintendo — appear to be working toward making older games subscription-only, with some being locked behind the most expensive tier. And, unlike Nintendo’s Virtual Console, there is no opportunity to buy older games one at a time for the PlayStation 5 and Switch.
Sony hasn’t revealed which retro titles will be featured with PlayStation Plus Premium, so we don’t know what you’ll get if you decide to pay for the more expensive membership. However, the company claims that the Premium tier would include “up to 340” games, which is significantly more than what is now accessible on Nintendo Switch Online. Some PS1 and PSP games will be included in the Premium collection, which are not currently available on PlayStation Now.
Despite the additional price, the new Premium tier has piqued my interest in playing certain classic PlayStation titles. However, I wish there were methods to play them on my PS5 without paying extra money on top of what I’ve already paid for PlayStation Plus, or that Sony included some in the regular tier.
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