Sony just announced theirs new PlayStation Plus subscription tiers, which will be available later this year, and the new “Extra” and “Premium” tiers will give you access to back catalogs of many PlayStation games. However, if you want to play classic PS3, PS2, PS1, and PSP games, you’ll have to pay for “Premium,” which is the most expensive option, meaning Sony is joining Nintendo in putting some of its older games behind the highest -free subscription.
Using a subscription to access classic games isn’t new to Sony. For years, the company has offered access to PS4, PS3, and PS2 games as part of PlayStation Now, a completely separate subscription service from PlayStation Plus. But instead of using the Plus shakeup to bring more games up to the standard tier, Sony has instead decided to use classic games as a carrot to encourage players to subscribe to premium, which is $17.99 a month, 49, $99 for three months or $119.99 per year. That annual fee is essentially what you would have paid for a year of both Plus and Now – although if you’re a Now subscriber, Sony says you’ll be migrated to the new Plus Premium.
Nintendo is following a similar tiered pricing strategy with its Nintendo Switch Online service. This subscription was launched in September 2018 with access to a handful of NES gamesand almost a year later Nintendo Added SNES games — and all were available at relatively low prices of $3.99 a month, $7.99 for three months, or $19.99 for a year. But if you want to play Nintendo’s selection of N64 or Sega Genesis games on your Switch, you’ll have to pay $49.99, which is more than double the standard annual membership. for a full year of the expansion pack.
Microsoft, on the other hand, is taking a different approach with its Game Pass library. Xbox Game Pass lets you play the same Microsoft titles on your Xbox, whether you pay $9.99 a month for the lowest tier Game Pass or the more expensive $14.99 a month Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. Microsoft has also invested heavily to backward compatibilitymeaning you can still access and play many legacy Xbox games on the Xbox Series X/S without needing a subscription.
Potential frustrations with Sony’s approach are compounded by the company’s historical disdain for the importance of its back catalogue. Here is PlayStation boss Jim Ryan in an interview from 2017 with Time:
“If we’ve looked at backwards compatibility, I can say that it’s one of those features that’s asked for a lot but not really used that often. That, and I was at a Grand touring At a recent event where they had PS1, PS2, PS3 and PS4 games and the PS1 and PS2 games they looked ancient. Why would anyone play this?
Ryan acknowledged that he could have been clearer in a 2021 axios interview:
“The point I wanted to make – obviously not very well – was how great the PS4 version looked and how far the series had come. I certainly wasn’t trying to be disrespectful to our heritage.”
But the 2017 commentary still stings – especially considering how impactful many PlayStation games like that are Solid metal gear Series, Jak & Daxterand Shadow of the Colossuswere in video game history.
Although many older PlayStation games have been remastered or brought to other platforms, playing them the way they originally looked can still be great. And while the PS5 is backward compatible With almost every PS4 game, the only way to play PS3 and PS2 games on Sony’s latest console is with the soon to be phased out PlayStation Now service, and soon the revamped PlayStation Plus.
However, subscriptions offer a convenient way Preserve Retro Games that can be hard to find. With some digital game stores shut down and hardware become obsolete, Subscriptions are a way to make older games accessible. But Sony – and Nintendo – seem to be moving towards retro gaming only available via subscription and some behind the most expensive tier. And for the PlayStation 5 and Switch, there’s no way to buy legacy games individually like there is with Nintendo’s virtual console.
Sony hasn’t shared which retro games will be included with PlayStation Plus Premium, so we don’t currently know what you might get if you plan on putting cash aside for the more expensive subscription. However, the company promises that “up to 340” games will be available at the premium tier – a far larger amount than what you can play on Nintendo Switch Online. This premium selection also includes some PS1 and PSP games not currently available on PlayStation Now.
Despite the higher cost, I’m looking forward to trying out some classic PlayStation games thanks to the new premium tier. But I wish there were ways to play them on my PS5 instead of spending extra money on top of what I already paid for PlayStation Plus – or for Sony to offer some in the standard tier.