In a fireside chat during GI Live: London, Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida (now head of indie at PlayStation, former president of Sony Worldwide Studios) discussed the Japanese company’s approach to release of premium titles. Yoshida explained that Sony still prefers to keep these games out of subscription services (like its own PS Plus) until they enter a so-called lifecycle management phase.
The new PS Plus has levels. Essential is like the old PS Plus, we still release two or three new games every month and a new tier, Extra, has a catalog of hundreds of games for people to play. For Extra, our approach is that we like to help with publisher lifecycle management. I was managing the first part, so I know it’s like in movies: a movie first comes out in theaters and then goes on pay-per-view, or a subscription service, or free-to-air, each time generating new revenue and reaching a wider audience.
In the same way, we believe in releasing a premium title at launch and after maybe six months, three months or three years, when sales of the game go down, inclusion in that service, PS Plus Extra, may help introduce these games to new, wider audiences. Some people may have missed these games when they first came out and this is a great opportunity to play and generate word of mouth, or if there’s a DLC or sequel coming out we can help arouse the interest of a wider public in the franchise. We therefore encourage publishers to use these services to manage the lifecycle of each title.
This stands in stark contrast to Microsoft’s strategy, which is largely centered around the Game Pass subscription service. As such, Microsoft is keen to release day-and-date premium titles on Game Pass.
That said, Yoshida pointed out how Sony is indeed experimenting with some day and date releases on PS Plus, such as Stray.
Stray was something different because we put it on day one. Fortunately, as I said, Stray was one of the most popular games when we did the PlayStation Showcase. PS Plus Extra is a subset of the PS Plus audience; we haven’t announced the numbers, but we have announced the overall PS Plus user base of around 50 million. The Extra tier is a smaller subset, but by including and featuring Stray in this higher tier service, hopefully we’ve helped promote the title when it’s released. The game has done extremely well in terms of sales, but it’s still in its infancy, so it’s a bit experimental for us at this point.
Do you want Sony to follow Microsoft’s lead or should it stick to its own strategy in this area? Let us know in the comments.