When Sony combines PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now in June, its new most expensive tier will be $18 a month and include time-limited game trials. But most games don’t currently have such demos. To fix that moving forward, Game Developer now reports Sony will require all developers of games at a wholesale cost over $34 to also release free demos for subscribers to try.
So far, the new policy appears to have only been communicated through Sony’s developer portal, rather than an official announcement to third-party partners, Kotaku’s own sources have confirmed. The game trials would have to be two hours long, released within the first three months of the game coming out, and be available for at least a year. Developers can still propose alternative demo formats on a case-by-case basis, and the new rule wouldn’t apply to VR games.
Sony did not respond to a request for comment.
These limited-time game trials are one of the main perks for Sony’s new PlayStation Plus Premium tier launching June 13 in the U.S. It would mean subscribers could play the first two hours of games like Forspoken, Gotham Knights, and the new Saints Row at no extra cost. Other upcoming perks include access to a collection of classic PS1, PS2, and PSP games, as well as cloud streaming. Combined, Sony is hoping it’s enough to convince players to pay up to $18 a month.
But the game trials could end up hurting some developers’ bottom lines. They can have a major impact on game sales, as Steam developers subject to the Valve storefront’s two-hour return policy can attest. And it doesn’t appear that Sony is offering any extra compensation to developers in exchange for providing the new perk.
While there are lots of studios whose games fall below the $34 wholesale cost threshold, most blockbusters would be subject to the new mandate, almost creating a sort of new mini Game Pass-lite exclusively for PlayStation. That is, unless large publishers like Square Enix and others are able to negotiate some sort of carve out, or Sony backs away from the mandate.