Sony stops “stacking” of cheap PS Plus subscriptions ahead of release

Enlarge / Subscription cards like this seemingly won’t work until PlayStation Plus transitions to its new tiered structure in June.

Sony has temporarily cut off users’ ability to renew their PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now subscriptions, an apparent effort to prevent users from converting those cheaper subscriptions into more expensive PlayStation Plus Premium subscriptions when the services transition to a new unified, tiered structure in June.

Current PlayStation Plus subscribers who try to renew their subscription through the online PlayStation Store are greeted with a cryptic message reading, “Can’t Purchase; Can’t Add to Cart; You’ve already purchased this item.” Users across the Internet are reporting similar issues using physical prepaid PlayStation Plus cards to renew their subscriptions. Accounts that aren’t currently subscribed to PlayStation Plus can still sign up for up to a year, though.

Subscriptions to Sony’s streaming-focused PlayStation Now subscription, meanwhile, are no longer available for purchase on the PlayStation Store at all. The area of ​​the store’s Subscriptions page where that subscription was previously listed now shows a message telling users that “PlayStation Now is changing soon and merging with PlayStation Plus.” The message points players to an FAQ page.

PlayStation Now subscriptions of up to one year were still available on the PlayStation Store as of March 20, according to versions captured by the Internet Archive. By March 29, though—the day the new tiered structure was announced—the PlayStation Store page changed to offer only one-month PlayStation Now subscriptions. Even that limited subscription option was removed from the store sometime after April 14, according to archival copies.

Closing a loophole?

While Sony hasn’t commented publicly on these new subscription limitations, the move seems designed to prevent users from “stacking up” on years of cheaper PlayStation Now or PlayStation Plus subscriptions before that subscription time is converted to the coming tiered format in June.

According to online FAQs, existing PlayStation Plus subscriptions will be rolled over into the PlayStation Plus Essential tier, which usually costs $9.99 per month or $59.99 per year. Existing PlayStation Now subscriptions, meanwhile, will be converted to the $17.99 per month or $119.99 per year PlayStation Plus Premium tier.

Players subscribed to both Now and Plus services will be converted to the more expensive Premium tier, with “a new single payment date based on which ever subscription is set to end last,” Sony said. The FAQ also clarifies that any and all “stacked” time on those subscriptions will be converted with no apparent limit.

A savvy customer could have subscribed to just a few months of PlayStation Now (at $9.99 a month), then loaded up on years of $59.99 per year PlayStation Plus subscriptions. Come June, all that accumulated PlayStation Plus time would have been to a PlayStation Plus Premium converted subscription valued at $119.99 per year.

By cutting off PlayStation Plus renewals and PlayStation Now subscriptions, Sony seems to be preventing that kind of loophole. “It appears that with the new integration of PS Plus Premium, Sony [has] temporarily disabled the stacking of PS Plus subscriptions,” a representative for UK retailer ShopTo told PlayStation news site PushSquare. “This is due to players trying to exploit the carrying over of subscriptions to this service. What this means is, any codes which you try to redeem while you already have an ongoing subscription will not be redeemable until either Mid-June or until your current subscription ends.”

Microsoft has made it relatively easy to transition from Xbox Live Gold to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.
Enlarge / Microsoft has made it relatively easy to transition from Xbox Live Gold to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.

Sony’s limits here stand in stark contrast to Microsoft, which in 2019 started letting users pay $1 to convert up to three years of existing Xbox Live Gold to the more expansive (and expensive) Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. That saved some customers a lot of money in the short term while gaining Microsoft a lot of “locked in” Game Pass Ultimate subscribers, helping the service top 25 million subscribers as of January.

Last month, Sony revealed just a handful of the “up to 400” PS4 and PS5 games that would be available on the new PlayStation Plus Extra and Premium tiers: Death Stranding, God of War (2018), Spider-Man, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Mortal Kombat 11and Return. Sony has yet to provide details on which specific games will be available under those plans or the “up to 340” additional PS1, PS2, and PSP games that will be downloadable on the Premium plan (though a handful of those classic titles are already showing up on the PSN backend).

Sony has been clear that it won’t be matching Xbox Game Pass’ policy of releasing new first-party games to subscribers on the day of their release, though. “[In terms of] putting our own games into this service, or any of our services, upon their release… as you well know, this is not a road that we’ve gone down in the past. And it’s not a road that we’re going to go down with this new service,” PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan told GamesIndustry.biz last month.

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