MIDIA Research’s senior analyst and product manager thinks that the new PlayStation Plus model will not be a significant change for the new subscribers.
When WCCFTech asked Karol Severin about how the new PlayStation Plus stack against Microsoft’s Game Pass, he said: “The move is more about playing catch up with Game Pass, rather than about driving innovation in the market. PS has consolidated its offering of games streaming and online multiplayer services into one, just as Game Pass has done. On the one hand, PS Plus will provide access to more games than Xbox Game Pass. However, PS Plus is short of a key benefit – first-day access, available on Xbox Game Pass. Game Pass also includes access to EA Play. All in all, depending on whether consumers put more priority on the number of titles or first-day access, PS has certainly gotten closer to Game Pass in terms of value exchange than it was before, but I would not say that it has necessarily assumed the lead.”
However, he chose Sony’s side, admitting that leaving day-one releases out of the mix makes sense for them: “From the consumer point of view, of course, the value gap will be there compared to Xbox Game Pass, which includes day-one accessibility. From PlayStation’s point of view, however, this makes sense. The potential risk of losing revenue from the first days of retail would have likely been too great. Don’t forget that Sony’s business is much more dependent on games revenue than Microsoft’s, so Sony inevitably has to be more careful with balancing how it drives value between subscriptions and games retail models during this transition.”
Does he see the Extra/Premium tiers for PlayStation Plus gaining significant ground in the games subscription market? “I think the move is more designed towards managing and fostering PlayStation’s existing user base effectively rather than going after new users. In particular, in terms of managing churn and diluting the temptation of existing users to switch over to Xbox Game Pass. While I think the new PS Plus will help address some of these matters, I don’t see the new PS Plus proposition as a ‘game-changer’ for driving new users into the Sony ecosystem from the outside,” Severin says.
His vision regarding the subscription model ruling the gaming industry might be considered somewhat bleak: “As the saying goes, history doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes. Over time (in the long-term), subscriptions will likely dominate the games industry as the critical point of consumers’ access to games. However, this will have several caveats. It won’t happen overnight, and it won’t happen everywhere equally. For example, some key markets (e.g. China) don’t lend themselves to games subscription models very well due to regulators’ limitations on games engagement. Time spent is a crucial value exchange measure for subscription models. The limits on time consumers can legally spend on games might not be high enough to justify the value of a games subscription, for example.
What will likely happen is that over time, access to games content will get increasingly commoditized, which will give further rise to the importance of monetizing fandom (e.g. cosmetic in-game spending) over just monetizing the engagement itself (e.g. purchasing a game or access to a catalogue). Games, however, due to their interactive nature, will have an easier time adapting to this dynamic than music and video have had.”
He makes sense, though.