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Xbox Game Pass subscribers way ahead of PS Plus tiers, says Sony in latest attempt to make itself look small

PlayStation Plus might have had a fancy new upgrade this year, but Sony is still aware that it has a long way to go before it catches up with Game Pass.

Do you think Sony's new PlayStation Plus setup is decent? Do you think splitting the tiers into Essential, Extra, and Premium was a wise move from the Sony tacticians? Well, your thoughts aside, it seems the public reaction to the new subscription service hasn't quite made the impact Sony hoped it would.

Just what is PS Plus and its new tiers, then? Why should you care?

As part of a new development in the messy enquiry into whether Microsoft should be allowed to acquire Activsion Blizzard, the UK's Competition and Markets Authority has published Sony's response to the authority's Issues Statement, and it revealed quite a lot of important information about the subscriptions arms race the two platform-holders are engaged in.

"Game Pass leads PlayStation Plus significantly," Sony writes in its reply to the CMA. "Microsoft already has a substantial lead in multi-game subscription services. Game Pass has 29 million subscribers to Xbox Game Pass console and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, and is expected to grow substantially in the future. The multi-game subscription tiers of PlayStation Plus considerably lag [behind the numbers for Xbox Game Pass.]"

It's worth noting that the last official figures we heard from Microsoft about Game Pass suggested the service was at 25 million subs – and that was back in January this year. So that means the service has added 4 million more members in under 12 months. Given it's "expected to grow substantially in the future," too, you can see why Sony is looking at it with cautious eyes.

Will Xbox Game Pass continue to dominate Sony's alternative?

Earlier this year, we heard that PSN topped 100 million users – so that means there's a swathe of people out there attached to PlayStation's online infrastructure that aren't necessarily subscribed to PS Plus.

Data shown in Sony's November 2022 earnings presentation revealed that the number of people subscribing to Sony’s PlayStation Plus has fallen from from 47.3 million to 45.4 million this quarter. So that's still more than the number of players that are subbed to Xbox Game Pass – but Sony's upper tier subscriber figures, then, must be far lower than what you'd have previously expected from those numbers.

Sony revealed its PS Plus subs numbers, only recently.

So what is Sony's goal then? It'll likely be to convert as many people already included in the PlayStation ecosystem to PS Plus subscribers, at the highest tier possible. Whether we'll see the company add in more content, more discounts, or something else entirely in order to provoke that remains to be seen.

I, for one, am still waiting for more PS1 games to be added to the service as promised before I'll upgrade my membership from Extra to Premium.

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About the Author
Dom Peppiatt avatar

Dom Peppiatt


Dom is a veteran video games critic with 11 years' experience in the games industry. A published author and consultant that has written for NME, Red Bull, Samsung, Xsolla, Daily Star, GamesRadar, Tech Radar, and many more. They also have a column about games and music at The Guardian.