Over the past few months, rumblings within the gaming world have suggested that Sony was working on a PlayStation competitor for Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass. The company already offers its PlayStation Now service, but its scope is significantly smaller than that of Game Pass. But, a new report suggests that the company might be looking to roll the existing PlayStation Now service into something larger, intended to take on Game Pass in a head-to-head battle.
The project, currently under development, is codenamed Spartacus and is intended to engulf the existing PlayStation Now brand. In fact, it's possible that it could either engulf the PlayStation Plus brand or become part of the brand, if and when it launches. That possibility comes from the leak that the first tier of the Spartacus offering would be the exact same as what is currently offered by PlayStation Plus: online multiplayer capabilities, monthly free games, and discount opportunities on other titles in the PlayStation Store.
The next tier, according to people familiar with the project, would possibly add PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 games. The real interest comes from the third and presumably highest tier. This is where the game streaming, as well as extended game demos, come in. This tier would likely include what is currently PlayStation Now, as well as a selection of PS1, PS2, PS3, and PSP games, similar to how Nintendo Switch Online works. It's unclear if these titles would be ports from the previous consoles made available to the new consoles, or made available through the PlayStation Now streaming technology that Sony acquired from Gaikai in 2012 and OnLive in 2015. We also don't know if it will remain PlayStation and PC exclusive, or if mobile will be added with the new offering.
While the service offering is clearly intended to compete with Game Pass, the structure is clearly a little different. That is because Sony is borrowing some ideas from other platforms, rather than copying Game Pass wholesale. For example, the extended game demos have been part of the EA Play offering for years now. EA Play subscribers get the ability to play new releases for 10 hours a few days before the title officially launches. That gameplay continues through to the full game when it comes out. This is a feature currently missing from the Xbox Game Pass offering but could find its way to the service if Spartacus is launched.
Clearly, this could be a big deal for Sony. Their disconnected brand offerings, between PlayStation Now and PlayStation Plus, make it difficult for casual gamers to know what is available. But, bringing it all under one brand would give everyone a clear idea of what is available and give them choices on what is important to them.
With the success of Xbox Game Pass, there is no way Sony isn't working on something to compete directly. But, with this report, it seems closer than you might expect. Suggestions are that the company could launch Spartacus as early as Spring 2022, meaning PlayStation gamers won't have to wait too long to experience it.