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Another Week, Another PlayStation Sub Snafu

Console wars are for kids. Subscription wars are for the discerning adults, and with a brand new (although not really) PlayStation subscription service on the horizon, things are going to start heating up.


Further evidence of this has come to the reaction to Sony CFO Hiroki Totoki’s comments that their investment into AAA games would need to drop if they were to put them onto a subscription service day one.

First of all, I’ll get to the actual comment in a minute. It’s not too egregious, and that’s not really what this conversation is about.

But more it’s the overall chaos that comes whenever anyone at Sony starts talking subscriptions. And that’s on the community.

Investment and Return

Let’s deal with the comments first. Hiroki made the point that PlayStation would be unable to invest as much into their games if they were to put them day one onto their new PlayStation Plus tiers.

So, in the first instance, you have to take this with a pinch of salt. Whether they could or they couldn’t, they aren’t. Top execs at PlayStation are unlikely to start publically backing a system which they’re not going to implement.

Because let’s be honest, a huge chunk of the people who will pay for PlayStation Plus will also buy physical games day one. Even if Sony could afford to take that hit – and I’m not sure they could – why would they? There are people willingly double-dipping, and thanking Sony for letting them do it.

And while I’m not in the position to argue with the CFO of Sony about their own finances, his comments don’t really stand up anyway. Add a $30 a month tier which includes nothing but three new AAA PlayStation games each year and people would pay it, even if it’s more expensive than just buying each game individually. Chuck in the ability to add themes on your PS5 or something and watch the subs skyrocket.

This isn’t about the system not working, it’s that the system is already working for Sony. I don’t believe their investment would have to go down – the opposite in fact – but I also don’t have the figures to correct him. Nobody does. That’s the point.

The evidence that we have is that other publishers are already heading that way. And if it takes off, don’t be shocked when Sony suddenly find their investment levels are just fine.

PlayStation Fans and Outrage

Go back a year and you’ll find yourself met with PlayStation fans who are outraged that subscription services exist. Except for PlayStation Plus. That one’s just fine.

Today the outrage has shifted so that we’re only talking about subscription services that include AAA games day one. Those are the ones that are unsustainable.

Hiroki’s comments have started this conversation again, and it’s getting old. PlayStation people arguing. Xbox people arguing. Facts and figures being thrown from the most questionable sources.

Far be it from me to suggest conversations should be shut down on this subject. The opposite – keep talking. But how many times can we have the same conversation? How many times can we hear that the Xbox subscription will fail because it’s not a PlayStation subscription. And I truly believe this is what they’re trying to say when they’re pulling out data from their asses.

Day One AAA games work because of scale of subscribers. We can debate exactly what that means, but if a billion people are subscribed to Game Pass, Game Pass is profitable. Everything else is just figuring out where it tips from one thing into the other. From there, it’s whether there are enough gamers interested in subscribing that we can reach that total.

The outrage, the confusion, the upset debating – these are not helpful. Support who you want to support, and hope their method of distribution works for them. Not that it works better than the competition, but that it works for them.


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blank Mat Growcott has been a long-time member of the gaming press. He's written two books and a web series, and doesn't have nearly enough time to play the games he writes about.

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