Sony wants in on the subscription service market, but Microsoft is already winning by a landslide. Can PlayStation catch up?
The future of gaming is digital. With the evolution of xCloud, GeForce Now, and subscription platforms like Microsoft’s GamePass, or PS Now from Sony, no one argues this.
However, the wonder is just how soon that digital future is to be. Sony and Microsoft are just releasing their latest hardware, the chances of a significant follow-up box are slim.
Each side is releasing a digital counterpart to the traditional, disc-based console as well. Is that telling of their future plans? Absolutely. We might not see another console at all. The future of gaming is in the cloud. And access will come via your TV, smartphone, or tablet. It won’t need a console.
And you know who’s leading that charge? Not the industry-favorite, Sony. It’s Microsoft.
With xCloud and Game Pass, gamers can play hundreds of titles without a console as of this writing. Sure, they’re offering a console capable of 4K and ray-tracing, but they’re only a small piece of the overall pie.
In a world where next-gen game prices are ready to spike, Microsoft offers hundreds of games for $15/month. No console necessary. That value is unmatched.
According to an interview with Financial Times, Sony wants to change that. And it’s now or bust.
This generation is the subscription service era. Apple Arcade, Google Stadia, Game Pass, PS Now, and Sony’s recently revealed PlayStation Plus Collection are all examples. But compared to its direct competitor, Sony is playing catchup.
PS Now and the PlayStation Plus Collection mark a good entry point, but the former’s infrastructure isn’t stable enough for constant gaming. Titles are continually cutting out, and not enough of them are available for download. It’s perfectly passable, but set against Game Pass, there’s no competition.
Sony doesn’t have as much room to experiment, either. For the PlayStation manufacturer, gaming is one of its top profit avenues. Xbox is a much smaller source for Microsoft’s trillion-dollar market value. It can afford to have a streaming project fail.
That’s not to mention the PlayStation 5 doesn’t match the accessible $299 Xbox Series S, meaning there’s bound to be less of a player base to subscribe to Sony’s services.
Parents buying a console for their kids will see that value, along with Minecraft and Fortnite (the former on Game Pass, latter is free-to-play), and leave with an Xbox. As great as The Last of Us Part 2 and Uncharted are, most people are buying cross-platform games. Microsoft is tapping into that market.
You can be the biggest God of War fan on the planet, but it’s impossible to ignore Microsoft’s value proposition. The company can release a console that cheap because they’re getting your subscription money. It’s not a one-and-done, but a constant flow of cash from your pocket. And with so much to offer, it’s hard to say no.
Will we see a PlayStation 6? In an interview with the Financial Times, Sony CEO Jim Ryan said:
The truth is, I don’t know and nobody does know.
The more likely answer is no. Fortunately, Sony has ways to do this. It sells televisions. The sooner it gets an xCloud equivalent on Sony TV’s, the sooner it can start building that platform. Screw the PS6 – offer a $15/mo streaming service with a smart TV.
Do you know why Netflix exploded? It doesn’t need an additional $500 box. It adapts to what you already own. Gaming is about to do the same.
Last modified: September 23, 2020 2:31 PM