Sony has just announced its new PlayStation Plus subscription tiers, which will be available later this year, and the new “Extra” and “Premium” tiers will give you access to old catalogs of many PlayStation games. However, if you want to play classic PS3, PS2, PS1, and PSP games, you have to pay for ‘Premium’ which is the most expensive option. -cost subscription.
Using a subscription to access classic games is not new to Sony. The company has been offering access to PS4, PS3 and PS2 games for years as part of PlayStation Now, a completely separate subscription service from PlayStation Plus. But instead of using the Plus shakeup to bring more games 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 per month, $49.99 for three months or $119.99 per month. year. That annual fee is essentially what you would have paid to subscribe to a year of both Plus and Now – but if you’re a Now subscriber, Sony says you’ll be migrated to the new Plus Premium.
Nintendo has a similar tiered pricing strategy with its Nintendo Switch Online service. That subscription launched in September 2018 with access to a handful of NES games, and nearly a year later Nintendo added SNES games — and they were all available for the 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, a price more than double the standard individual annual membership, for an entire year of the expansion pack.
Microsoft, on the other hand, has taken a different approach with its Game Pass library. Xbox Game Pass lets you play the same Microsoft titles on your Xbox, whether you pay for the lowest $9.99 per month Game Pass or the more expensive $14.99 per month Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. Microsoft has also invested heavily in backwards compatibility, which means you can still play and play many older Xbox games on the Xbox Series X/S without needing a subscription.
Adding to the potential frustrations with Sony’s approach, the company has been somewhat dismissive of the importance of its back catalog in the past. This is PlayStation boss Jim Ryan in a 2017 interview of Time†
“Having worked with backwards compatibility, I can say it’s one of those features that’s in demand, but isn’t actually used much. That, and I was on a Gran Turismo event where they recently had PS1, PS2, PS3 and PS4 games, and the PS1 and PS2 games, they looked old like why would anyone play this?”
Ryan acknowledged he could have been clearer in a 2021 axios interview†
“The point I was trying to make – obviously not very good – was how great the PS4 version looked and how far the series had evolved. I was certainly not trying to be disrespectful to our heritage.”
But the 2017 comment still stings — especially when you consider how much of an impact many PlayStation games have, like the Metal Gear Solid series, Jak & Daxterand Shadow of the Colossushave been in video game history.
While many older PlayStation games have been remastered or brought to other platforms, it can still be great to play them the way they originally looked. And while the PS5 is backwards compatible with almost every PS4 game, the only way to play PS3 and PS2 games on Sony’s latest console is via the on-the-way-out PlayStation Now service and soon via the revised PlayStation. Plus.
That said, subscriptions provide a handy way to keep retro games that might be hard to find. With some digital game stores closing and hardware becoming obsolete, subscriptions are one way to make older games accessible. But Sony – and Nintendo – seem to be on their way to making retro games alone available by subscription and hiding behind the most expensive tier. And for the PlayStation 5 and the Switch, there’s no way to buy older games one at a time like with Nintendo’s Virtual Console.
Sony hasn’t shared which retro games come with PlayStation Plus Premium, so we don’t currently know what you might get if you’re planning on putting money aside for the more expensive plan. However, the company promises that there will be “up to 340” games available at the Premium tier – a much larger number than what you can play on Nintendo Switch Online. That Premium selection also includes some PS1 and PSP games, which are not currently on PlayStation Now.
Despite the higher cost, I’m excited to check 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 coughing up extra cash on top of what I’ve already paid for PlayStation Plus – or if Sony offered some in the standard tier.