Analyst: Highest-Priced PlayStation Plus Video Game Tier Will Drive Subscriber Growth

Sony Interactive Entertainment’s newly consolidated PlayStation Plus subscription digital video game platform should see an uptick in subscriber growth, thanks in part to the features afforded on the most-expensive ($17.99) monthly ($120 annual) PlayStation Plus Premium Service option, says a Wall Street analyst.

Kota Ezawa, with Citigroup Global Markets, suggests that access to more than double the number of games (340) offered on the $9.99 monthly ($60 annual) PlayStation Plus Essential plan will entice gamers to spend more.

“We think the number of subscribers who will opt for the pricey PS+ Premium package will rise,” Ezawa wrote in a note.

In 2020, the worldwide online gaming market generated about $21.1 billion in revenue, a record 21.9% uptick from 2019, due in large part to the pandemic.

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This week, Sony consolidated its PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now digital platforms to better compete against Microsoft’s Xbox GamePass and Nintendo’s Switch Online subscription-based digital gaming services.

The rebooted PlayStation Plus enables subs to play PS, PS2, PS3, PS4 and PS5 titles online, while also offering multiplayer functionality at no additional cost. Ezawa says the PlayStation Plus platform offers “greater quality and quantity” of games than its predecessors.

“On the [Premium] contract plan, users can freely play up to 740 titles,” Ezawa wrote.

Sony Combining PlayStation Plus, Now Platforms Into One Video Game Subscription Service

The video game industry’s transition to a subscription-based business model turned another page March 29 when Sony Interactive Entertainment announced it would combine its PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now services into one platform bowing in June.

Launched in 2010, PlayStation Plus was the first console-based membership service that included a refreshed library of games through PlayStation Plus and streaming service PlayStation Now.

“This June, we’re bringing together Plus and Now in an all-new PlayStation Plus subscription service that provides more choice to customers across three membership tiers [priced from $9.99 monthly] globally,” Jim Ryan, president and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, wrote in a blog post.

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The three membership tiers include:

  • PlayStation Plus Essential ($9.99 monthly): Provides the same benefits that PlayStation Plus members are getting today, such as two monthly downloadable games, exclusive discounts, cloud storage for saved games, online multiplayer access.
  • PlayStation Plus Extra ($14.99): Provides all the benefits from the Essential tier, while adding a catalog of up to 400 of PS4 and PS5 games, including titles from PlayStation Studios catalog and third-party partners. Games in the Extra tier are downloadable for play.
  • PlayStation Plus Deluxe ($17.99): Provides all the benefits from Essential and Extra tiers, plus the addition of 340 additional games, including PS3 games available via cloud streaming, a catalog of classic games available in both streaming and download options from the original PlayStation, PS2 and PSP generations; cloud streaming access for original PlayStation, PS2, PSP and PS4 games offered in the Extra and Premium tiers in markets where PlayStation Now is currently available. Customers can stream games using PS4 and PS5 consoles, and PC.

 

Sony said the tier would also offer time-limited game trials, so customers can try select games before they buy.

“As this is a massive launch effort, we’re rolling out the new PlayStation Plus offering in a phased regional approach,” Ryan wrote. “We’ll begin with an initial launch in several markets in Asia, followed by North America, Europe and the rest of the world where PlayStation Plus is offered. We aim to have most PlayStation Network territories live with our new PlayStation Plus game subscription service by the end of the first half of 2022.”

Sony also plans to expand the cloud streaming benefit to additional markets and will provide more details at a later date.

Nintendo Offering 12-Month Switch Online Membership with ‘Tetris 99’ Game

Nintendo Switch device owners can now pick up a new bundle at select retailers that includes the Tetris 99 game and a 12-month membership to Nintendo Switch Online at $29.99 SRP.

Launched last year as competition to PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live, the standalone Switch Online membership is normally $19.99, which includes access to multiplayer games, catalog of NES and SNES games and cloud storage, among other features.

Nintendo Switch Online members also gain access to a smartphone app that enhances features of supported games.

In Tetris 99 “battle” mode, players can take part in 99-player battles, competing to be the last person standing. Players who are more traditionalists can see how long they’ll last offline in the single-player “marathon” mode.

While offline, players can take on 98 CPU players, pass a Joy-Con controller to a friend for a two-player game against each other and CPU opponents on one Nintendo Switch system or face off with up to seven other players who have their own systems and games via local wireless connection.

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