Live Services, Not Subscription Services, Are the Future of the Industry, Says PlayStation CEO

"If you look for a model in our category of entertainment, which supports sustained engagement over a long period of time, live services games arguably fit that bill better than a subscription service," says PlayStation's Jim Ryan.

Posted By | On 29th, Mar. 2022

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The new and expanded PlayStation Plus is set to roll out this June, bringing a library of over 700 games from throughout the history of PlayStation across multiple tiers of subscriptions. Clearly, the value and importance of subscription services has grown immensely in recent years, as evidenced by how central Xbox Game Pass has become to Microsoft’s strategy- but not everyone in the games industry is convinced that subscription services will dominate the future.

In a recent interview with GamesIndustry, PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan discussed the same topic, and though he acknowledged the growth of the subscription model, Ryan said that according to him, live service games are going to define the future of gaming much more the subscription services well, because their support for “sustained engagement over a long period of time” is much more in line with video games as a medium.

“Subscription has certainly grown in importance over the course of the last few years,” Ryan said. “Our PlayStation Plus subscriber number has grown from zero in 2010, to 48 million now. And we anticipate, for our services, that we will see further growth for the subscriber number.

“But the medium of gaming is so very different to music and to linear entertainment, that I don’t think we’ll see it go to the levels that we see with Spotify and Netflix.”

“Some of the live service [games] that are proving very successful these days, and I’m not restricting this comment to console, they’re effectively subscription services in themselves,” Ryan continued. “And they’re very much tailored to the needs of the gamer who loves whatever game that they spend hours and hours with, month after month after month. That phenomenon of the live service game… that has, in a very large part, fuelled the enormous growth in the gaming industry that we’ve seen over the last ten years. I think that trend towards live services will continue, and if you look for a model in our category of entertainment, which supports sustained engagement over a long period of time, live services games arguably fit that bill better than a subscription service.”

It bears mentioning, of course, that though comparisons between PlayStation Plus and Xbox Game Pass are inevitable, the two services have very different approaches and roles- while the latter is the glue holding the Xbox ecosystem together, the former is designed as a nice bonus for PlayStation users to have.

On that note, speaking in the aforementioned interview, Ryan also confirmed, as many would have expected, that Sony has no plans to release first party games day one on PlayStation Plus- but he also added that “things can change very quickly in this industry.” Read more on that through here.

Of course, Sony’s increased interest in live service experiences has been abundantly clear of late. The company plans to release at least 10 new live service games within four years (one of which will presumably be the recently-acquired Haven Studios’ debut title). Ryan has previously also talked about how PlayStation’s acquisition of Bungie has “significantly accelerated” Sony’s “aggressive” roadmap with live services.


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