PS Plus Xbox Game Pass Sony Subscription 1
Image: Push Square

Sony has dipped its toe into the hypothetical subscription future with its revamped PS Plus tiers, but it’s resisted the temptation to include tentpole AAA titles in its service on day one, like Xbox Game Pass does. It’s argued since the beginning that this business model is unsustainable, and with projects like The Last of Us: Part 2 and Horizon Forbidden West costing upwards of $200 million, it’s not hard to see its point of view.

And speaking with lawyers as part of the FTC’s ongoing lawsuit against Microsoft as it seeks to buy Activision Blizzard for $69 billion, PlayStation bigwig Jim Ryan implied that the publishers he speaks to aren’t exactly enamoured with the potentially disruptive business model either. “I talked to all publishers, and they unanimously do not like Game Pass because it’s value destructive,” he said, as reported by The Verge. “I talk to publishers all the time, and this is a very commonly held view over many years by the publishers.”

Microsoft has already admitted that subscriptions impact full-price sales, and we suppose the fear for publishers is that if customers are consuming the vast majority of their content through a monthly membership, they may be reluctant to spend their money on titles that aren’t included in them. We’ve obviously not reached that tipping point yet – subscription growth has actually stagnated in the United States so far this year – but it’s easy to understand the potential concerns.

Elsewhere in the court hearing, Ryan expressed surprise at Xbox Game Pass’ confirmed subscriber total of 25 million in January 2022, as he admitted his company was “expecting a larger number given all the money they have spent”. Fascinatingly, the Redmond rival has yet to give an update on that figure, implying growth may have plateaued.