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Spartacus: Sony’s answer to Xbox Game Pass

It has been reported that Sony was making a Playstation version of Microsoft’s subscription service, Xbox Game Pass. Bloomberg reported that the service was set to be launched in spring 2022, and much like Microsoft’s Game Pass, it was expected to be available on PS4 and PS5 for a monthly fee.

The service, called Spartacus, is expected to merge PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now into one offering. According to Bloomberg’s review of the documents they acquired from Sony inside sources, the launch of Spartacus will see the termination of PlayStation Now while the PlayStation Plus branding will be maintained.

PlayStation Plus is currently required for online gaming on PlayStation consoles while PlayStation Now is used to stream or download older PlayStation games.

The plans

Bloomberg’s review has yet to leak details surrounding the upcoming service. However, it was reported that Sony Spartacus was expected to be a three-tier service with the first tier being similar to what PlayStation Plus is right now.

The second tier is presumably to give access to a large collection of PlayStation 4 games with PS5 titles being introduced later, and the third tier to offer extended demos, game streaming, similar to Nintendo Switch Online but with the addition of access to PS1, PS2, PS3, and PSP games.

The report noted that Sony would likely make something similar to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate which allows players to access more than 100 Xbox games via the cloud.

However, Bloomberg reported that it was also unclear whether Spartacus would be accessible on other devices the way Xbox Game Pass is also accessible through PC, phones, and tablets in addition to Xbox consoles. Earlier reports have previously also shown that Microsoft was also planning to make game streaming sticks for TVs as well.

Will there be any exclusives?

The documents reviewed by Bloomberg were unclear on whether Sony would release first-party exclusives to the service the way Microsoft does on Game Pass.

Sony Interactive Entertainment president and CEO Jim Ryan said last year that the company would not “go down the road of putting new release titles into a subscription model. These games cost many millions of dollars, well over $100 million, to develop. We just don’t see that as sustainable”.

Despite Game Pass would likely be Spartacus’ nemesis in the subscription market, it would also still have to face big names such as EA and Ubisoft whom both have subscription services.

Amazon also launched Luna last year and Netflix has also launched Netflix games on mobile. NVIDIA’s GeForce Now and Google Stadia are also rising names in the field of cloud gaming with Samsung seemingly building up plans to launch one of its own.

Is it a good idea?

Despite PlayStation Now being one of the earliest major game subscription services when it was launched in 2015, it was met with a rather unfavorable response as players were only able to access PS Now games via the cloud. It was changed in 2018 when players were allowed to download some PS4 and PS2 games.

The move to create a better subscription platform by Sony to rival Xbox Game Pass seems like a robust idea. By the end of its financial year in 2020, Sony recorded only 3.2 million PlayStation Now subscribers. Microsoft, on the other hand, had 18 million Game Pass members per January 2021.