Sony Group Corp.’s PlayStation division is planning a new subscription service to compete with rival Microsoft Corp.’s popular Xbox Game Pass, according to people familiar with Sony’s plans and documents reviewed by Bloomberg.
The service, code-named Spartacus, will allow PlayStation owners to pay a monthly fee for access to a catalog of modern and classic games, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to speak to the press about the plans. The offering will likely be available on the smash hit PlayStation 4, which has sold more than 116 million units, and its elusive successor, the PlayStation 5, which launched more than a year ago but is still difficult to buy due to supply chain issues.
When it launches, expected in the spring, the service will merge Sony’s two existing subscription plans, PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now. Currently, PlayStation Plus is required for most online multiplayer games and offers free monthly titles, while PlayStation Now allows users to stream or download older games. Documents reviewed by Bloomberg suggest that Sony plans to retain the PlayStation Plus branding but phase out PlayStation Now.
Details on Spartacus may still not be finalized, but documentation reviewed by Bloomberg outlines a service with three tiers. The first would include existing PlayStation Plus benefits. The second would offer a large catalog of PlayStation 4 and, eventually, PlayStation 5 games. The third tier would add extended demos, game streaming and a library of classic PS1, PS2, PS3 and PSP games. A representative for PlayStation didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Although the PlayStation has outsold the Xbox in recent years, Sony has lagged behind Microsoft on the subscription front. With this new structure, Sony will look to compete with an Xbox feature that has been popular and lucrative.
Microsoft’s Game Pass, which is often dubbed the Netflix of video games, has more than 18 million subscribers. It allows users to pay $10 to $15 a month for unlimited access to several hundred games. Xbox has built its overall strategy around the service in recent years, putting all of its internally published games on Game Pass as soon as they’re released. Xbox has also made big acquisitions, such as Bethesda Softworks last year for $7.5 billion, with the goal of bolstering the Game Pass library.
Sony is also putting resources into expanding its efforts in cloud gaming, the people familiar with the plans said. Microsoft’s xCloud game streaming service became widely available earlier this year.
Best deals today: Apple’s M2 13-inch MacBook Pro, iPad mini, Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, and more
M2 13-inch MacBook Pro
Today’s best deals selection starts at Best Buy, where you can now purchase a new M2-powered 13-inch MacBook Pro for $1,299 after receiving a $200 discount. This model comes with 512GB storage space, 8GB RAM, Apple’s latest processor with a next-generation 8-core CPU, 10-core GPU, and up to 24GB of unified memory. The best part is that this powerhouse will deliver up to 20 hours of battery life, so you can work through the day without worry.
However, you can also opt for the 256GB storage model that sells for $1,149 at Amazon.com. This option usually sells for $1,299, so you can take your new Mac home and still get at least $150 savings.
If you want other options, you can also check out the Microsoft Surface Laptop 4, which now sells for $1,360 after scoring a 20 percent discount. This model packs an Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM, 512GB storage, and a 13.5-inch touchscreen.
13-inch MacBook Pro
The new 13-inch MacBook Pro keeps the same old design but comes with the all-new second-generation Apple M2 chipset. The new chipset offers 20% better CPU performance than the last generation and a lot more.
Apple iPad Mini
Next up, we have the Apple iPad Mini, that now sells for $550 after scoring a $99 discount on its 64GB storage model that also supports LTE. You would typically see this product selling for $549, but the latest 15 percent discount makes it a very compelling option for those who want a more portable tablet with tons of power, thanks to Apple’s A15 Bionic chip with Neural Engine.
If you don’t care about LTE support, you can also opt for the Wi-Fi-only model that sells for just $400 after a $100 discount, and the best part is that you also get six free months of Apple Music with your purchase. And if that’s still too much for your budget, you can also consider going for a new 2021 version of Apple’s 10.2-inch iPad, which sells for just $299 after a 9 percent discount.
Apple iPad mini
Apple’s 2021 iPad mini is one of the best tablets on the market. It features an A15 Bionic chip with a Neural engine, up to 10 hours of battery life, an 8.3-inch display, support for the second-generation Apple Pencil, and more.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4
Samsung has recently announced a new version of its Galaxy Watch, so it is only logical to see the Galaxy Watch 4 getting some exciting discounts. For instance, you can now get your hands on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic for $300 on its 42mm model with ECG monitoring, plus all the necessary sensors to keep track of your workouts and other activities, including your sleep cycles. And the best part is that it also features LTE support, so you can take it anywhere without the need to have your phone around. The larger 45mm model is also on sale, and you can take yours home for $330 after receiving a $100 discount.
And if you want a more affordable alternative, you can also consider purchasing a new Amazfit GTR 2e Smartwatch that now sells for $100 after receiving a 29 percent discount. This watch and fitness tracker comes with 90 sports modes, 24-day battery life, and other cool features for a low price.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4
Galaxy Watch 4 is the device to pick if you’re looking for a fitness-centric smartwatch that doesn’t hurt your wallet.
Fire TV Stick 4K Max
We now head over to the home entertainment department, where the Fire TV Stick 4K Max is still one of the best options for those who want to get the best from their TVs. This fantastic little device will help you make any old TV an excellent smart TV with all the benefits of a Fire TV, which includes watching shows from all over the world with a VPN. The best part is that you can get yours for just $35 when you add promo code ADDFTV at check out. This will get you $20 savings and an amazing media experience.
Of course, you can also choose to pay more for a new NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV Pro Streaming Media Player that sells for $170 after scoring a 15 percent discount. The NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV Pro Streaming Media Player usually sells for $200, so this means that you will be able to score $30 savings. And if that’s still too much for your budget, you can also consider the smaller NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV Streaming Media Player that goes for $125 after a $25 discount.
Fire TV Stick 4K Max
Amazon’s Fire TV Stick 4K Max streaming device is a perfect option for those who want to make their smart TV even smarter and faster with Wi-Fi 6 support and other great features.
HyperX Cloud Stinger
Finally, we have some savings on the HyperX Cloud Stinger that now sells for just $30 after getting a 40 percent discount that will get you $20 savings. Or pick up a new ASTRO Gaming A10 Wired Gaming Headset for $36 after scoring the same 40 percent savings that translate to $25 on this occasion. However, you should also check out the latest deals on Audio-Technica products, where you will find the Audio-Technica ATH-G1WL Premium Wireless Gaming Headset and other great products on sale.
HyperX Cloud Stinger
The HyperX Cloud Stinger Gaming Headset features a lightweight design with comfortable memory foam, making it perfect for prolonged gaming sessions.
Audio-Technica’s latest back-to-school sales event will get you up to 54% savings on select products
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Google Search Reportedly Updated to Show Games Available on Cloud Streaming Services
Google Search has begun showing users which video games can be streamed through a particular cloud gaming service, according to a report. The search results do not lead to gaming consoles’ storefronts or to PC game stores — instead, the search giant shows results related to cloud gaming. The report suggested that this could be due to the company’s Stadia streaming service. The list of services are also said to differ between desktop and mobile. Earlier this month, Google begam testing a row of square cards on its homepage, on desktop browsers, to show information related to markets, trending, weather, what to watch, and more.
According to a recent report by 9to5Google, Google Search will show what cloud streaming services provide access to video games you are searching for. Google already offers this service for movies, music, and TV, surfacing links to stream content on specific services. As mentioned earlier, the list of services are also said to differ between desktop and mobile. For example, searching for Destiny 2 on Android reportedly showed a link for Stadia, while searching for the same on a desktop browser displayed Nvidia’s GeForce Now and Stadia.
The report noted that the results being shown are restricted to cloud gaming and don’t lead to stores for console games or PC game retailers. As mentioned earlier, this could be because of Google’s game streaming services. Meanwhile, gamers can also see which games provide access to a free trial on Stadia — the title for these games will switch to green, according to the report.
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