Sony planning new 'Spartacus' subscription service to take on Xbox Game Pass - report

A family gaming on the sofa
The Bloomberg report says the existing subscription services will be merged. Photo credit: Getty Images

Sony is planning a console game subscription service to rival Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass according to a new report from Bloomberg.

The news website says the service, code-named 'Spartacus', will give PlayStation owners access to both modern and classic games and is likely to be available on both the PlayStation 4 and 5 consoles.

Xbox Game Pass is comparable to streaming services like Netflix and Disney Plus, only for games instead of movies and TV shows. 

According to the report, the new service is expected to launch next (Southern) autumn and will merge PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now, Sony's existing subscription services.

The former offers free games each month as well as access to online gameplay. For PS5 owners it also includes access to a limited selection of classic PS4 games.

PlayStation Now, which allows users to stream and download older games, was first launched in North America in 2014 and has since expanded to other regions but has never been available to New Zealand PlayStation owners.

While subject to change, documents witnessed by Bloomberg show Spartacus has three different subscription tiers, the first of which mirrors existing PlayStation Plus functionality.

The second would add a catalogue of PS4 games and, in time, PS5 titles too.

The final tier would also add classic titles from previous generation consoles as well as the hand-held PSP, and offer extended demos and game streaming.

No pricing information is provided in the report. PlayStation Plus currently costs Kiwis $13.95 per month, or $89.95 on a yearly basis.

Xbox Game Pass allows access to a library of brand new releases and older titles on both Xbox consoles and/or PC, depending on the choice of subscription.

The Ultimate subscription, which offers access on both platforms as well as free game downloads and access to EA's Play service, currently costs $19.95 per month in Aotearoa.

Meanwhile Kiwis hoping to pick up a new console for Christmas may have to resort to the secondary market as both the Xbox Series X/S and the PS5 remain largely unavailable here.

Tight supply means potential purchasers may have to pay a premium on the likes of TradeMe and Facebook Marketplace if they want to secure one because shops are showing a lack of inventory.

The risk of buying that way, however, includes the prospect of not having any comeback against the seller should the console prove defective during its warranty period.

Earlier this year Sony unveiled it had sold 10 million PlayStation 5 consoles, but ongoing semiconductor and logistic issues brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented the company from meeting demands.