PlayStation's Xbox Game Pass rival tipped to launch soon with these big features

Sony PS5 with PlayStation DualSense controller
(Image credit: Rokas Tenys | Shutterstock)

We’ve never been quiet in our praise for Xbox Game Pass, which we’ve called the best deal in gaming. However, we're also eagerly looking forward to what Sony has to offer, codenamed Spartacus, and a new leak may have spilled some of the details.

Speaking on his premium show Grubbsnax (paywalled and transcribed by VGC), VentureBeat’s Jeff Grub claims to have new information on the upcoming gaming subscription. Not only does Grubb claim something is likely to happen before the end of this month, he also posits that there may be three tiers — including one that offers both streaming and access to classic games.

Grubb claims that the three tiers are currently called “Essential,” “Extra” and “Premium,” priced at a respective $10, $13 and $16 a month. However, he is quick to point out that all these could be placeholders, so the names and pricing may well change between now and whenever Sony launches the service.

But what exactly will those tiers include? According to Grubb, the extra tier will come with a catalogue of downloadable games, and he claims to have heard that 250-300 games will be included. Grubb believes everything that is available on PSNow will be on offer in that tier. 

The extra tier won’t include streaming, since that is exclusive to the premium tier — a tier that is also said to offer access to classic PlayStation games. Presumably these would be additional classic games, as PSNow already features plenty of those. Grubb didn’t, however, specify whether these would be exclusive to subscribers as with Nintendo Switch Online, or available as standalone purchases as they are on the Xbox store.

Premium will also apparently include game trials, which Grubb likens to EA Play — one of the perks of which is 10 hours' full access to select new releases; so better than a demo, but not as good as buying the game outright. Grubb isn’t sure whether all first-party PlayStation titles will offer a trial, but admits “it seems like that.” 

So what about Essential, the cheapest tier in the service? Grubb claims this is little more than a rebranded version of PS Plus. You get the same discounts, free monthly games and cloud saves, but none of the perks of the Extra or Premium tiers. Presumably that also includes access to online multiplayer.

How much of this ends up being true isn’t clear. However, we have heard in the past, thanks to a Bloomberg report, that Spartacus will supposedly combine PlayStation Plus and PS Now, will launch sometime in the spring and will offer three different tiers — so these new rumors tally with what we expected.

As for the pricing, things are fairly comparable to what Microsoft has to offer. Xbox Live Gold, the closest equivalent to the “Essential” tier, is the same $10 a month, and gets you pretty similar perks. 

Game Pass’s basic tier is $3 cheaper than “Extra,” at $10, but that only offers access to the Game Pass downloadable catalogue and some member exclusive deals. There’s no other crossover with Gold, which could give Sony’s middle tier an advantage if Extra also includes everything Essential has to offer.

However Game Pass Ultimate still has an edge over Spartacus' Premium tier, based on what this rumor claims. Not only is it cheaper at $15 a month, but the subscription includes cross-platform access (console, PC, and mobile) and complimentary access to EA Play.

But it is early days, and we’re still waiting for an official announcement from Sony. Until then, comparisons are pretty much moot, since we can’t really compare confirmed features with rumors and speculation. 

Still, we may not have long to wait. Grubb claimed that Sony would have something ready by the end of the month, which is just a few days away. So hopefully we’ll get some concrete details about the Spartacus subscription very soon.

Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.