Today's announcement that the price of the PlayStation 5 and its Digital Edition will be $499 and $399, respectively, was not a complete shock. We knew the console would come in at a similar price to the Xbox Series X ($499) and that, while the Digital Edition would shave about $100 off the upfront cost, there was no way for Sony to match Microsoft's $299 Series S. What was shocking, however, was the announcement of the PlayStation Plus Collection.
A unique feature Microsoft has been proud of this generation has been its full, official roll out of its Game Pass subscription service which, for $15/month, offers gamers over 150 Xbox and PC games to play on their console, their gaming rig, or on mobile through its robust xCloud streaming. This has been heralded as a game changer for the way games are funded, developed, and consumed — not unlike what Netflix did for TV and movies. Game Pass also comes bundled with the financing options consumers have for purchasing an Xbox ($25/month for the Series S and $35/month for the Series X), making it the choice for value-seeking shoppers this holiday season.
It seems that strategy made Sony a bit skittish — and rightfully so — so the company today announced the PlayStation Plus Collection, a selection of games (a good chunk of which is Sony's own IP) that will come packaged for free with a PlayStation Plus subscription. Some of the titles include: Resident Evil VII, God of War, The Last Guardian, Bloodborne, and Persona 5. Shots fired.
Crash — We should note that this isn't exactly feature parity with Microsoft's insane deal. On Xbox, you're getting brand new releases at the same time they hit store shelves. These games? These games are old. Most PlayStation 4 gamers will have already played these titles and likely purchased them to own at a significant discount already. If you're a PlayStation gamer, you knew whether or not you wanted to get into God of War years ago. The games also won't be available on PC or through any kind of streaming (apart from the console's Remote Play option, which is best used at home).
Sly — Regardless of these drawbacks, free is free and I'm sure many, many PlayStation owners will be happy to hear they get this little bonus. It should also help muddy the waters during the holiday shopping rush when parents won't understand the nuance of which console is offering which deal and why. It's going to be hard for laypeople to understand that Sony has more exclusives in general but Microsoft has more of its exclusives on its subscription service which also comes bundled with EA Play but at a higher price but that the Microsoft console itself is lower priced etc., etc. I'm sure you can imagine how gleeful Sony is that the situation has become as confusing as it is.
God of War — But, hey, maybe this is a new beginning for the usually quite greedy Sony. Perhaps the Grinch's heart grew three sizes today! Hopefully this kind of competition — and maybe a bit more from Nintendo with it's bundle of retro games available for free with Nintendo Switch Online — will push these big console makers to stop asking for $60-120 a pop on each new title they roll out. They're already raking it in from bypassing retailers for their digital marketplaces and peppering microtransactions into every corner of every game. The least they can do is at least make us feel like we're getting a deal.
For now, while Sony has some exclusive games on PS5 that you won't want to miss, the Xbox is still the better value by far. Or, hey, throw all your money in a shredder and get both. We're not your dad.