Sony has reportedly rolled out instructions for developers to include time-limited trials if their games meet certain criteria.
The move should make the upcoming top tier PS Plus Premium membership even more attractive to subscribers. But developers may not be so keen: only studios working on titles priced at $34/ca. £27 / AU$48 will be needed to provide these free trials, according to Game Developer’s sources. And time-limited trials must last at least two hours.
Apparently, the new policy won’t retroactively apply to existing PS Store games or those in development for PS VR or PS VR 2.
Advantages and disadvantages
From a consumer perspective, this is great news. If you’re a PS Plus Premium member, you’ll be able to try out games for a few hours before committing to buying them.
It’s also a boon for Sony; adding this feature to the higher subscription level is an exclusive benefit that will immediately add value to this membership option.
The only group that might be somewhat upset is game developers. First, the edict appears to have been released through Sony’s developer portal, with no follow-up or additional means of communication. It’s a potentially resource-intensive task that could easily put a strain on smaller studios, with no guarantee of sales.
Sony is, however, giving the developers some time. They will have up to three months, after launch, to release timed trials of their PS Store titles for PS Plus Premium subscribers. And another advantage is that the trial version should only be available for a minimum of one year.
Limited time trials do not prevent developers from running their own promotions, such as demos or free access periods. Sony also reportedly allowed studios to launch custom game demos instead of these trials. But anyone who wants an exception to the new policy for posting such demos will have to submit their case to Sony for review.
Will limited-time PS Plus Premium demos hurt sales?
There’s already a dialogue around Xbox Game Pass and its impact on game sales. Sony’s decision to add time-limited play trials to PS Plus Premium only adds fuel to the fire.
In 2013, game designer Jesse Schell revealed that game demos cut sales in half. Since then, the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction, with Xbox boss Phil Spencer telling levelup.com that day one titles on Game Pass are “very healthy” in terms of sales.
No More Robots founder Mike Rose echoed those findings. on Twitter in 2020. Comparing monthly sales of the studio’s Descenders game, Rose said Game Pass “raised [the title] to heights we could not have imagined.”
Descendants sold five times as many units per week after hitting Game Pass. Overall, after landing on the service, Rose says the game’s total Xbox sales tripled (thanks for the links, ResetEra!)
Personally, I use demos to try out games I’m hesitant about. If I end up liking them, I’ll buy them. Otherwise it’s a pass, and I wouldn’t have wasted that money on them just to find out how they are.
We’ll have to see how developers react to Sony’s new policy, but it’s a win for PS Plus Premium subscribers.