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Sony’s ‘Spartacus’ could be PlayStation’s answer to Xbox Game Pass

Sony’s ‘Spartacus’ could be PlayStation’s answer to Xbox Game Pass


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Sony’s PS5 console.
Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

Sony is planning to create an Xbox Game Pass-like subscription service, according to Bloomberg. The company already offers two subscription services, PlayStation Plus (which is required for the majority of online multiplayer games) and PlayStation Now (which offers a catalog of games to download or stream), and they will reportedly be merged in this new offering. Sony will likely keep the PlayStation Plus brand, reporter Jason Schreier said on Twitter, but “phase out” PlayStation Now.

This new service, which is codenamed Spartacus, would have three tiers. One would offer current PlayStation Plus perks, another would include a catalog of PS4 and “eventually” PS5 games, and a third would have “extended demos, game streaming and a library of classic PS1, PS2, PS3 and PSP games,” Bloomberg reports, adding that it’s “likely” to be available on PlayStation 4 as well as the PS5. The company would launch the service in the spring.

Sony didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment from The Verge. Bloomberg adds that some details of the service, including its membership tiers, may not yet be finalized.

Sony’s service could run on Microsoft’s cloud platform

The company is also “putting resources into expanding its efforts in cloud gaming,” Bloomberg reported, perhaps to keep up with efforts like Nvidia’s RTX 3080 tier of GeForce Now and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X upgrade for xCloud. However, it’s unclear if Spartacus would run on Microsoft Azure following the deal signed between Microsoft and Sony in 2019; if it does, it would mean that Sony’s service runs on the same platform as its competitor.

This new Spartacus service sounds like it would put Sony on par with Microsoft’s Game Pass Ultimate subscription, which allows people to play online multiplayer, access a huge library of titles from Microsoft and other companies, and stream games from the cloud. Sony also appears to be emulating Microsoft’s approach to offer multiple tiers of services — only the $15 per month Game Pass Ultimate plan offers cloud gaming, for example.

However, one of the key perks of Game Pass and Game Pass Ultimate is day-one access to Microsoft’s first-party titles, but that might not be available with Spartacus. Schreier said in a tweet that “don’t expect Sony to include its big new games day one like Game Pass does.”