In context: Sony's imminent launch of its PlayStation Plus tiered subscription rates brings drastic changes to the way players manage their subscriptions on the platform. But subscribers are not the only ones subject to the restructuring. Developers will have to adapt too.
Anonymous sources told Game Developer that studios planning to launch games priced higher than $34 must have a minimum two-hour trial version. Sony intends to include these in its PlayStation Plus Premium tier. Developers with games that meet Sony's criteria must keep the timed trial active for 12 months after the title's release.
Alternatively, developers may pitch a custom demo instead of a timed version of the full game, but these are subject to Sony's approval. The insiders say they only noticed the change when signing into the Sony developer portal. The rule only applies to new titles moving forward. Older games are not required to have free trials regardless of pricing. Of course, all studios are still free to release customized demos, game trials, free-to-play weekends, or other promotions to all players at their discretion.
The free trials could help get a title to more players who might be on the fence about a game. Triple-A titles with tens of hours of content should benefit greatly. However, smaller studios looking to get $35 or more for shorter games might suffer from the rule.
Development costs would increase since the policy would logically require studios to release a timed version to premium users and a normal one to the PlayStation Store. While big companies like Activision and 2K Games can easily absorb this extra production cost, smaller indy developers might find it more challenging to comply.
Sony announced its new subscription rates last month. Those who currently only pay for PlayStation Plus should remain primarily unaffected since the lowest $ 60-per-year tier is the same price for everything they get now. Subscription rates for those exclusively using the PlayStation Now platform (without a PS+ subscription) will double since PS Now is no longer a standalone service.
Adding free trials to the package helps justify the premium service's price. Sony hopes players see try-before-you-buy as an added value. More importantly, the move should help Sony better compete with Game Pass, which doesn't have timed demos but does have day-one releases for Xbox exclusives.
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