Bloomberg reports something we’ve long suspected, that Sony will use some in-house DNA to better take on Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming.
Bloomberg says that the coming service, codenamed Spartacus, will result in the merger of PlayStation Plus—Sony’s version of Xbox Live Gold—and PlayStation Now, a game streaming service for PlayStation consoles and PC. But based on its description, it appears that Spartacus will just replace PS Now, as Sony is keeping the PS Plus brand alive. (Microsoft also retains Xbox Live Gold today while moving forward with Xbox Game Pass.)
Spartacus is expected to launch in the Spring and work on PlayStation 4 and 5 consoles, and there will apparently be three tiers of service, one of which is basically just PS Plus. “The second [tier] would offer a large catalog of PlayStation 4 and, eventually, PlayStation 5 games,” Bloomberg explains. “The third tier would add extended demos, game streaming, and a library of classic PS1, PS2, PS3, and PSP games.” So those two tiers seem to map closely to Xbox Game Pass console/PC and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, respectively.
For clarity, Microsoft offers three versions of Xbox Game Pass across consoles, PCs, and both, but these aren’t game streaming services: users have to download games to their devices before they can play. But Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, the highest-end tier, includes a feature called Xbox Cloud Gaming that lets members also stream a growing collection of games as well. Microsoft has over 18 million Xbox Game Pass subscribers overall, but it’s unclear how many of them can access Xbox Cloud Gaming.
Also, it’s worth noting that Sony’s coming PS Now replacement may run at least in part on top of Microsoft’s Azure cloud infrastructure: as you may recall, the two companies announced a partnership toward this end in 2019.