Yesterday brought two big announcements for SEA gamers- the first, that PlayStation would be restructuring the price of its PlayStation Plus service, and the second that Xbox would finally bring PC Game Pass to the region.
It should be noted that the idea of PS Plus rebranding to compete with Game Pass has been on the cards for years now. While never outright described as the objective, critics have often called the PS Plus Collection on PS5 a way to compete with the “Netflix for Games” approach Xbox had used instead.
While the new PS Plus structure is good, it doesn’t seem to have made quite the same splash in the SEA region, especially since Xbox had made their announcement just hours earlier.
Not Available In All Territories
A lot of this comes down to the offerings- a huge part of the selling point for the new tiers of PS Plus is the ability to stream PS3 games on your console. The reason SEA players just wouldn’t care about this is that the feature is straight-up not applicable outside of the US and Europe.
Many users pointed out that it’s not like a PlayStation streaming service is anything new- PS Now existed previously but was never available in the region, and the same can be said of its successor.
Journalist Jeff Grubb writes:
One of the big reasons that I hope PS3 runs native on PS5 is that PS Now still isn’t in a lot of significant countries. If PS3 games are a streaming-only, top-tier feature, why would anyone in Australia or Poland care?
And he’s got a point- Google Stadia lived and died without ever seeing a SEA release, and that was considered one of the premier cloud gaming services of its time. There’s definitely a huge appetite for PS3 games to be played on newer consoles but ultimately choosing to only offer them via streaming just robs the feature of its luster.
That’s not to say it’s an entirely bum deal- the PlayStation Plus Deluxe offering does include natively-run PSP and PS2 games. On top of that it also includes a huge library of games- though outside of games already in the PS Plus Collection they haven’t announced all that much to its lineup.
The Uphill Battle
Compared to the new PlayStation Plus, Xbox has had a much easier ride to being celebrated by SEA users. For years now it’s had a simple pitch- Netflix for games. Titles like Nier: Automata, Forza Horizon and more take the front and center of the marketing, rather than trying to explain a pricing structure and which games come in at what tier, and whether you’d play the game natively or have it streamed.
That’s not to say they don’t offer these features- Xbox Cloud Gaming does offer streamed games, but Microsoft’s marketing has been smart to not treat it like it was just as valuable to users as the main feature- the huge library of games.
The result is that fans simply want the feature with the good value for money, and once it finally got announced for SEA they reacted exactly as you’d expect.
“Very good news. So happy for so many people. Cheap gaming library finally here”, writes one redditor upon seeing the news.
Many more had said they were already subscribed to the service- though they were happy to no longer need to use VPNs and have regional pricing.
That being said, it’s hard to understate that if you were all-in on the PlayStation ecosystem, you would have great value with PlayStation Plus Deluxe. More games is always good, after all, and PlayStation has de facto dominance in SEA due largely in part to Xbox’s reduced presence in the region.
But considering the fact that it’s still very difficult to get a PS5, it’s not going to be an easy ride to compete with Game Pass. The fact that PlayStation is still being quite mum about the lineup of free games could mean caveats, especially when you remember the PS Plus Collection was PS5-exclusive despite being made of PS4 games.
That’s kind of the main point about PS Plus Deluxe- while there’s plenty good to say about it the messaging has been so full of caveats, especially when you compare it to the Game Pass announcement which basically boiled down to “Here’s your free games”.
Ultimately they’re targeting two different markets, but the animosity of fanboys for the two publishers means that even though it’s technically PC players vs Console players, it’s always going to boil back down to whose brand “wins”.
The goal for Sony here isn't necessarily to grow its subscription numbers significantly (growth will continue over time), it's more about giving people a reason to move up a tier or two when previously PS Now didn't appeal to them much
Essentially, increase spend per user
— Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX) March 29, 2022