Talking Point: Was Sony Right to Resist Adding PS5 Exclusives to PS Plus on Day One? 1
Image: Push Square

One of the major plot points from the opening exchanges of this generation was Sony’s resistance to adding first-party PS5 titles to PS Plus on day one. Whatever your personal opinion of the strategy, the Japanese giant was heckled and harried by both media and fans, repeatedly accused of ripping off its consumers by not following in the footsteps of Xbox’s acclaimed Game Pass proposition.

Despite question marks over its profitability, Microsoft repeatedly assured journalists and consumers alike that the business model was sound, and wasn’t being propped up by its parent company’s obscene riches. This is despite it switching to a financial reporting strategy that obscured the true nature of its numbers, focusing on revenue rather than cold hard profits.

Talking Point: Was Sony Right to Resist Adding PS5 Exclusives to PS Plus on Day One? 2
Image: Push Square

PlayStation, on the occasions it was asked, said that the strategy was simply not “sustainable” – a line it would go on to repeat multiple times. “We are not going to go down the road of putting new releases titles into a subscription model,” then boss Jim Ryan told Games “These games cost many millions of dollars, well over $100 million, to develop. We just don't see that as sustainable.”

He was, of course, accused of being a profiteering liar – and it became another arrow in the quiver of Ryan’s biggest detractors, many of whom felt he was poor fit for leading PlayStation despite his unprecedented business success.

Sony did go on to reinvent its subscription offerings, combining PS Plus with PS Now to create a more compelling trio of tiers that included a wider selection of PS5 and PS4 games. And it would later experiment with adding smaller, day one titles to its offering, like Tchia, Humanity, and more recently Animal Well. While there are still question marks over the more expensive PS Plus Premium, the value of PS Plus Extra has largely been applauded.

Talking Point: Was Sony Right to Resist Adding PS5 Exclusives to PS Plus on Day One? 3
Image: Push Square

Still, while the experiment has proven a success for PlayStation’s bottom line, allowing Sony to extract more revenue on average from each individual subscriber, the total number of PS Plus members has remained static overall – hovering just under the 50 million mark. Despite this, in the United States specifically, consumer spending on gaming subscriptions has hit a brick-wall, with year-over-year growth as low as one per cent during some months of the year.

That’s all culminated in some seismic changes to Microsoft’s business model overnight: including the introduction of a Game Pass tier which no longer features day one first-party releases. Effective from September, a new subscription named Game Pass Standard will remove the promise of day one games – despite still commanding a substantial $14.99 per month fee.

The Redmond firm is not doing away with the concept entirely, but those who want to play titles like Fable and Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 at launch will now have to cough up $19.99 per month to do so. PC Game Pass will retain the promise of day one games, although its price is also increasing from $9.99 to $11.99.

It means that, if you factor in the recently renamed Game Pass Core, there are now two subscription offerings from Microsoft which don’t fulfil its promise of “play it day one with Game Pass”. Of course, it’s true that all subscriptions – including Sony’s own PS Plus – have been increasing in price recently, but this is a tacit admission from Microsoft that the model hasn’t been working as well as it previously implied.

In fact, this sudden change retroactively suggests that Sony – and, yes, Jim Ryan – may have been right all along: the model isn’t sustainable after all. With games generally lasting longer and requiring a more active attention span than movies and music, the dream of a ‘Netflix for Games’ is fading fast.

Do you think Sony was right to resist adding its first-party games to PS Plus on day one? Do you still think this is a business model the platform holder should explore, or is Microsoft begin to show it’s not sustainable? Let us know in the comments section below.

Should Sony add its first-party games to PS Plus day one?