Since its inception in mid-2017, Game Pass has stood as one of the defining reasons to invest in an Xbox One. Often described as "Netflix for games," the subscription service allows users to access some of the console’s biggest new games for one set fee, with massive titles such as The Outer Worlds and Gears 5 launching on the service the same day they released. For a while, players thought Sony would try to match Xbox’s groundbreaking service through its streaming platform PlayStation Now, but a new comment from Sony seems to indicate that this isn’t the case.
Speaking in a recent interview, PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan spoke more about the company’s view of subscription services and why its approach to distribution and PlayStation Now differs greatly from companies like Microsoft. Discussing competition in the industry, Ryan claimed, “Yes, there will be new entrants with deep pockets and strengths in areas where distribution of content creation might move. But those new entrants don't yet have the strengths that we have, which have taken us many years to painstakingly accumulate.” He furthers his point by explaining, "They may not be readily understood in business terms, but they're much valued, much trusted and much loved by those who play PlayStation games." Sony clearly believes its strengths outweigh its weaknesses, regardless of the new sweep of distribution platforms entering the market.
Later in the interview, he goes on to discuss the new changes to PlayStation Now's system in recent months, claiming, “our stance on the inclusion of first-party games in PlayStation Now in terms of what we've done this month is very different to our stance 12 months ago...we just want to treat them with amazing care and respect, and have those launches be clean and pure.” It appears while Microsoft’s approach to first-party games is to get its biggest titles in the hands of players early, Sony’s is to treat each of its games as, in his words, "massive entertainment event[s]".
Fortunately, taking the time to hype its games up to massive launches is a luxury the company can afford. Sony’s first-party lineup for this generation has been nothing short of a blinding success, with the majority of its biggest titles breaking records both financially and critically. For example, just last year God Of War became one of the PS4’s best selling titles while simultaneously taking home the prestigious Game Of The Year Award at the Game Awards. Sony has the credentials and financial backing to take its time and make a big deal of its brand new releases when they launch.
Microsoft, however, has been on more of the back foot this generation. Xbox Game Pass has led to a massive resurgence in popularity for the brand over the last two years, with many players gravitating towards the idea of getting their hands on brand new games for a low price, yet it still has a lot of headway to make if it looks to catch up with Sony’s record-breaking work on the PlayStation 4. Regardless, the two media giants' differing approaches to distribution will no doubt make for a vastly different rivalry between the companies going forward into the next generation and beyond.