Sony tells regulators that Xbox Game Pass is "substantially leading" in the multi-game subscription space, indicates that its new higher-priced PlayStation Plus Extra and Premium subscriptions have yet to take off.
In a recent response letter to UK regulators, Sony makes a case against the Microsoft-Activision merger by indicating that Activision's billion-dollar franchises could represent a tipping point in the subscription market.
Sony says that Xbox Game Pass has a big lead over its new PlayStation Plus offering, revealing that total Xbox Game Pass subscribers are in the 29 million mark. Microsoft had previously said Xbox Game Pass had over 25 million subscribers at the end of June 2022.
Sony says the following on page 12, para. 33 of the document:
"Game Pass leads PlayStation Plus significantly - Microsoft already has a substantial lead in multi-game subscription services. Game Pass has 29 million subscribers to Xbox Game Pass Console and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, and is expected to grow substantially in the future. The multi-games subscription tiers of PlayStation Plus considerably lag, with fewer than [REDACTED] the number of subscribers."
These figures reveal two things. The first is that Sony's new PlayStation Plus tiered subscription isn't doing too well. We could infer this by the recent substantial 1.9 million loss in PlayStation Plus subscribers during the Q2 period. This drop happened shortly after Sony introduced its new higher-priced 3-tiered PS Plus model. Sony now seems to confirm that both PS Plus Extra and PS Plus Premium are not taking off.
Sony's PlayStation Plus service has a total of 45.4 million subscribers as of September 30, but this figure includes all three tiers. The cheapest tier, PlayStation Plus Extra, makes up the bulk of these subscriptions.
The second point is that Xbox Game Pass is quite bigger than Microsoft says it is. If Sony's number is correct, then actual Xbox Game Pass subscribers are 4 million more (or 16% more) than the figures that Microsoft has provided.
According to figures provided by Brazil's CADE regulators, Xbox Game Pass made $2.9 billion in 2021 on consoles alone. This figure was redacted shortly after we broke the news, but if it is genuine, then the gap between Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Plus revenues is only around $730 million in revenues.
Microsoft's Phil Spencer has given a much smaller number, saying that Game Pass is indeed profitable and that the subscription services makes up roughly 10-15% of Xbox content & services revenues.
"Game Pass as an overall part of our content and services revenue is probably 15 percent. I don't think it gets bigger than that. I think the overall revenue grows so 15 percent of a bigger number," Spencer said during a Wall Street Journal Tech Live event.
Based on Spencer's words, Xbox Game Pass would have made around $1.258 billion - $1.887 billion through calendar year 2021. This would significantly widen the gap between Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Plus revenues to around $1.74 billion - $2.37 billion.