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Even though PlayStation is losing PS Plus subs, Sony's service still outnumbers Xbox Game Pass

Sony has been served some bad news this week, but only if you look at the falling subs numbers – everything else seems pretty positive.

Sony's PlayStation Plus relaunch has been an interesting experiment so far. Some people are massively in favour of the newly updated service, which boasts classic PlayStation games as well as new titles (sometimes). But there's also a contingent of people that are miffed by the updates - that think it could, definitely, offer better value for money. Especially in the more expensive tiers.

The Xbox Series S is an important part of this generation – for Game Pass and beyond.Watch on YouTube

New data shown this week in Sony's latest earnings presentation reveals that the number of people subscribing to Sony’s PlayStation Plus has fallen from from 47.3 million to 45.4 million this quarter. The fact that this is the third quarterly decline of PS Plus subs in a row would be bad news in and of itself, but when you consider it also comes on the back on the PS Plus relaunch... well, it's probably left Sony feeling a bit miffed.

But there's good news buried in this data, weirdly. Sony just had its best quarter ever for subscription revenue. Per a tweet from industry analyst and all-round smart guy, Daniel Ahmad, Sony is making an extra 21% revenue per subscriber in the PS+ segment. To put it plainly? Less people are spending more money on PS Plus. That basically translates as: people are paying for the more expensive tiers.

High profile games like Yakuza: Like a Dragon help sub services stay alive.

So, even if we're all annoyed that there aren't any PS1 games coming to the PS Plus Premium tier, or even if we're a bit irritated that the only day-and-date games are third-party curios like Stray, the numbers are in Sony's favour: a lot of PS Plus subscribers have converted to either the Extra or Premium tiers.

And whichever way you cut it, the facts remain: PS Plus is more popular with consumers than Xbox Game Pass. Our most recent update about Game Pass is from January this year, where we learned the service has over 25 million subscribers. This is for a console ecosystem that holds about 63 million consoles. Xbox gaming generated an eye-watering total revenue of $16.28 billion for Microsoft during the calendar year of 2021, with Xbox Game Pass being responsible for 18% of this. So even though the numbers are lower than Sony's PS Plus subs, overall, the profits earned from these subscription services are not to be sniffed at.

Game Pass is even starting to get big Sony-first games like Death Stranding.

We learned last month just how much Xbox and PlayStation spend to get games on their service, thanks to a listing from the publisher behind Ark: Survival Evolved. The game PlayStation Plus for members to claim for five weeks between March 1 to April 4, and per the information above, we know that Sony secured the game for $3.5 million in that timeframe. Microsoft, meanwhile, paid slightly less – $2.5 million to feature the game on it on Game Pass for the first half of 2022, and then a further $2.3 million to bring ARK 2 to the service when it launches in 2023.

So, what's the takeaway? Sony and Microsoft both commit huge sums to their respective subscription services – but for a good end. There's clearly money to be had. And yes, Sony may have a whopping ~20 million more subscribers than Microsoft, Xbox's numbers are growing to match it's PlayStation counterpart.

Whatever way you look at it, subscription services are here to stay.

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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.