In the context: Sony’s upcoming launch of PlayStation Plus tiered plans is bringing a sweeping change to how players manage their subscriptions on the platform. But not only subscribers are subject to restructuring. Developers will also have to adapt.
Anonymous sources told Game Developer that studios planning to release games priced above $34 must have at least a two-hour trial. Sony intends to include them in your PlayStation Plus Premium tier. Developers of eligible games from Sony must maintain an active temporary trial for 12 months after the release of the game.
Alternatively, developers may submit a custom demo instead of a temporary version of the full game, but this is subject to Sony’s approval. Insiders say they only noticed the change when they logged into the Sony Developer Portal. The rule only applies to new titles moving forward. Older games do not require free trials regardless of price. Of course, all studios may still release personalized demos, game trials, free weekends or other promotions for all players at their discretion.
Free trials can help get the title to more players who may have doubts about the game. Triple-A titles with dozens of hours of content should do a lot of good. However, smaller studios looking to get $35 or more for shorter games may be hurt by this rule.
Development costs will increase as policy logically requires studios to release a temporary version for premium users and a regular version for the PlayStation Store. While large companies like Activision and 2K Games can easily cover these additional production costs, it can be harder for small independent developers to meet the requirements.
Sony announced new subscription rates last month. Those currently only paying for PlayStation Plus should remain largely unaffected, as the lowest tier of $60 a year is the same price for everything they get now. The subscription price for those who exclusively use the PlayStation Now platform (without a PS+ subscription) will double as PS Now is no longer a standalone service.
Adding free trials to a package helps justify the price of a premium service. Sony hopes that players will see added value in “try before you buy”. More importantly, the move should help Sony better compete with Game Pass, which doesn’t have timed demos but does have Day 1 releases for Xbox exclusives.
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