According to Grace Chen, a vice president at Sony, gamers will be able to earn loyalty points if they “win tournaments, earn specific trophies or even be the first player to platinum a blockbuster title in [their] local time zone.”
A PlayStation Blog post outlines the whole program, but if you’ve taken part in similar initiatives from Nintendo and Microsoft, there’s nothing too shocking here. Sony will host a variety of timed and ongoing initiatives, which reward players for completing objectives either in-game or online. They can redeem the “loyalty points” they earn for PlayStation Store rewards, including wallet funds or small digital add-ons. Sony will also introduce “digital collectibles,” which sound like virtual action figures, complete with varying levels of rarity.
Taken on its own merits, PlayStation Stars seems like a reliable way to keep PlayStation gamers engaged over time. It’s worth noting, however, that Sony is by no means blazing a trial here and Microsoft already has a similar program in place — and it’s been around since 2010.
For those who aren’t familiar with Microsoft Rewards, the program launched in 2010 as Bing Rewards, and has since evolved into a comprehensive loyalty program across Windows, Xbox and other Microsoft platforms. You can check out the Microsoft Rewards — Xbox page to learn exactly how to earn Xbox credits, but PlayStation Stars has a lot of the same ideas. Xbox players can earn credits by playing games, earning achievements, participating in timed initiatives and so forth. They can then cash those credits in for either digital rewards or Xbox credit.
It's difficult to say exactly how PlayStation Stars will compare to Microsoft Rewards until we see PlayStation Stars in action. At present, Sony has no release date listed for its upcoming service. However, it seems as though PlayStation Stars will have one major advantage and one major disadvantage, compared to its Xbox counterpart.
In terms of positives, PlayStation Stars could distinguish itself with its “digital collectibles” idea. Microsoft lets you redeem some rewards for your Xbox avatar, but there’s nothing akin to the “limited time collectible” idea — particularly if Sony gives you a way to display your collections to other people. Digital collectibles could create a whole subculture of PlayStation fans who play games primarily to see which collectibles they can earn. It’s not hard to see a whole little ecosystem budding up around the idea, especially if Sony lets players buy or trade amongst themselves.
On the other hand, there’s no getting around the fact that PlayStation Stars will probably never be as ubiquitous as Microsoft Rewards. Microsoft produces a gaming console, yes, but it also offers an e-mail service, a web browser, a digital assistant, a search engine and the most popular computer OS in the world, among other things. Simply put, you have a lot more opportunities to earn Microsoft Rewards than for PlayStation Stars, unless you spend the majority of your day in front of a gaming console.
In fact, gaming loyalty rewards programs like Microsoft Rewards and PlayStation Stars could wind up playing you since they offer free credits at a cost.
We won’t be able to compare the two services directly until PlayStation Stars launches. Until then, it may be worth checking out Microsoft Rewards, if you haven’t already, if only to start making a wish list of features for Sony.
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Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.