Can Sony’s Spartacus Compete PlayStation’s Xbox Game Pass?

Sony is planning to create an Xbox Game Pass-like subscription service, according to Bloomberg. This new system is most analogous to Xbox’s Game Pass and will compete with the Microsoft licensed product. The subscription is set to merge the offerings of PlayStation Now and PS Plus into a single bundle.

The service, code-named Spartacus, will allow PlayStation owners to pay a monthly fee for access to a catalog of modern and classic games, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to speak to the press about the plans. The offering will likely be available on the smash hit PlayStation 4, which has sold more than 116 million units, and its elusive successor, the PlayStation 5, which launched more than a year ago but is still difficult to buy due to supply chain issues.

The company already offers two subscription services, PlayStation Plus (which is required for the majority of online multiplayer games) and PlayStation Now (which offers a catalog of games to download or stream), and they will reportedly be merged in this new offering. Sony will likely keep the PlayStation Plus brand, reporter Jason Schreier said on Twitter, but “phase out” PlayStation Now.

This new service, which is codenamed Spartacus, would have three tiers. One would offer current PlayStation Plus perks, another would include a catalog of PS4 and eventually PS5 games, and a third would have “extended demos, game streaming and a library of classic PS1, PS2, PS3 and PSP games,” Bloomberg reports, adding that it’s “likely” to be available on PlayStation 4 as well as the PS5. The company would launch the service in the spring.

When it launches, expected in the spring, the service will merge Sony’s two existing subscription plans, PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now. Currently, PlayStation Plus is required for most online multiplayer games and offers free monthly titles, while PlayStation Now allows users to stream or download older games. Documents reviewed by Bloomberg suggest that Sony plans to retain the PlayStation Plus branding but phase out PlayStation Now.

The company is also “putting resources into expanding its efforts in cloud gaming,” Bloomberg reported, perhaps to keep up with efforts like Nvidia’s RTX 2060 tier of GeForce and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X upgrade for xCloud. However, it’s unclear if Spartacus would run on Microsoft Azure following the deal signed between Microsoft and Sony in 2019; if it does, it would mean that Sony’s service runs on the same platform as its competitor.

Playstation 5 module

This new Spartacus service sounds like it would put Sony on par with Microsoft’s Game Pass Ultimate subscription, which allows people to play online multiplayer, access a huge library of titles from Microsoft and other companies, and stream games from the cloud. Sony also appears to be emulating Microsoft’s approach to offer multiple tiers of services – only the $15 per month Game Pass Ultimate plan offers cloud gaming, for example.

However, one of the key perks of Game Pass and Game Pass Ultimate is day-one access to Microsoft’s first-party titles, but that might not be available with Spartacus. Schreier said in a tweet that “don’t expect Sony to include its big new games day one like Game Pass does.”

This new Spartacus service sounds like it would put Sony on par with Microsoft’s Game Pass Ultimate subscription, which allows people to play online multiplayer, access a huge library of titles from Microsoft and other companies, and stream games from the cloud. Sony also appears to be emulating Microsoft’s approach to offer multiple tiers of services – only the $15 per month Game Pass Ultimate plan offers cloud gaming, for example.

The company is also “putting resources into expanding its efforts in cloud gaming,” Bloomberg reported, perhaps to keep up with efforts like Nvidia’s RTX 3080 tier of GeForce Now and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X upgrade for xCloud. However, it’s unclear if Spartacus would run on Microsoft Azure following the deal signed between Microsoft and Sony in 2019; if it does, it would mean that Sony’s service runs on the same platform as its competitor.

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