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Sony's choice to delay first-party games on PlayStation Plus is paying off

Xbox and PlayStation's different release methods of their first-party games seem to be working for their respective subscription services.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

June 14, 2023

2 Min Read
Logo for Sony's PlayStation console.

It sounds like PlayStation's refusal to simultaneously release its exclusives on retail and PlayStation Plus has been a successful. Speaking to GamesIndustry, subscription head Nick Maguire says the first-party games coming to the service after a standard launch are helping bring in subscribers. 

PlayStation Plus relaunched last year with three tiers for subscribers to choose from. It now functions as Sony's version of Xbox Game Pass, though it noticeably doesn't put first-party games on the service until a year or more after release.

According to Maguire, that won't be changing any time soon. If anything, their eventual drops to PlayStation Plus create interest in the service, along with a general sense of community. 

"We're seeing customers still get excited about those games and jumping in," he said. "Letting those [first-party] games go out to the platform outside the service first… that's working and that will continue to be our strategy moving forward." 

And to further his point, he said that four of Plus's top ten games of 2023 (so far) were titles under the PlayStation Studios banner, and each of them have grown in player count.

For example, 2021's Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart joined the service in May, and is "climbing very quickly and growing month-on-month." Sucker Punch's 2020 game Ghost of Tsushima has been on PlayStation Plus for some time, and has brought in "the highest number of hours of gameplay."

Of the games that have been added to the service, the biggest is BlueTwelve Interactive's Stray. It launched last year with the revamped PlayStation Plus, and "has brought in the highest number of players that have accessed that title over the first 12 months."

PlayStation Plus is a win, but is still figuring itself out

According to Maguire, PlayStation Plus's relaunch has been quite successful and had an "impressive" engagement. Its users have reportedly spent seven times as much time on the service than they have with the PlayStation Now streaming service prior to the relaunch. 

He attributed that number, along with the "billions of hours of gameplay" since the relaunch, to the diversity of titles featured. "It makes Plus attractive to many people," he noted, "[and] that means that there's something there for nearly everyone."

Speaking to Plus's future, Maguire said PlayStation is "constantly working out what the right strategy is moving forward." Part of that will be to find out what new highly-requested features and games should be added to continue engagement. 

Maguire was candid in talking about ensuring Plus avoided complacency for the service. He added that PlayStation is now "thinking about what is next and trying to predict what players might want in a years time or five years time."

As PlayStation keeps aware of shifting player habits, he said added the studio was "thinking about the role that Plus can play moving forward."

The full interview with Maguire can be read here, which provides further insight into third-party online games and how PlayStation Plus has grown in the last year.

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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