If you wanted even more clear evidence that Sony has zero plans to follow Microsoft’s example of day one launches of exclusives on Game Pass, here’s PlayStation’s Shuhei Yoshida, making it very clear how he sees PS Plus in the lifecycle of games on PlayStation:
“For Extra, our approach is we like to help the publishers with lifecycle management,” Yoshida said to GI.biz. “I was managing first-party so I know that it’s like in the movies – a movie comes out at the theater first, then goes to pay-per-view, or a subscription service, or free TV, every time generating new revenue and reaching out to a broader audience. In the same kind of way, we believe in the premium release of a title at launch and after maybe six months, or three months, or three years, when the game’s sales come down, inclusion into this service, PS Plus Extra, can help introduce these games to new, broader audiences.”
Yoshida likens this to the traditional theater-to-home streaming pathway for movies, so I suppose the counter-example would be that Microsoft is essentially doing what we see from streaming services themselves like Netflix and Amazon Prime, which are debuting big, often expensive original movies straight on the platform itself at no extra cost, providing value added for subscribers. And in that industry, too, its hotly debated whether that kind of release is providing enough value from those projects. But it’s still happening, and Netflix’s big movies like Red Notice and The Gray Man are all getting sequels.
It is exceedingly clear that Sony wants and probably needs to retain the concept of selling millions and millions of copies of now $70 games right when they launch, and they believe they will be able to keep doing that so long as their games retain a high standard of quality. Expect few complaints about God of War Ragnarok needing to be purchased new, for instance, this fall.
But across the way, it does feel like Microsoft is giving the store away with every single exclusive there launching day one on Game Pass, along with a PC copy. Sony, meanwhile, takes months or years to adapt its games for PC , and sells them separately.
While Microsoft claims that the Game Pass strategy works for them, certainly questions can be raised about how true that is. Insider reports are that Halo Infinite has not performed well for Microsoft on the whole, which launched as a Game Pass title with separate free multiplayer, and has had to rely almost entirely on live service microtransactions, which is the thing the game did the worst. It’s easy to imagine that overall, Halo Infinite could have generated way, way more revenue if it was simply sold as a normal game at launch, compared to the value it generated through Game Pass subs and microtransactions alone.
I understand why both companies are doing what they’re doing. It would be pretty dumb of Sony, market leader, to flip a switch and start doing all day one launches for big games, given the millions upon millions of sales they’d be giving up. But in contrast, I understand why Microsoft is using its size and ability to absorb costs to push hard for Game Pass and day one releases as an alternative to Sony, even if from time to time, a normal launch seems like it might have done better for them. Things will get really interest when we start getting in situations where a Microsoft Call of Duty launches day one on Game Pass, but is sold for $70 on PlayStation, and which of those drives more value. Guess we’ll find out soon.