“We really feel like this is just the best time to launch this kind of program, in terms of having the healthiest player base, the PlayStation 5 is obviously a huge success and we really wanted to do something that honors and celebrates history.” from PlayStation, and now is the best time to do that,” said Grace Chen, vice president of network advertising, loyalty and licensed merchandise in an interview with The Washington Post. “We wanted to create a program that reflected that journey and the role that PlayStation in someone’s life, we wanted to do that in a way that only PlayStation can.”
The program was named after stars because Sony liked their connotation of untethered and limitless, which is in line with PlayStation’s tagline that “play no limits”. It will roll out to regions around the world later this year, including Asia, the Americas, Europe and more.
Chen said PlayStation Stars will not compete with Xbox Game Pass, Microsoft’s video game subscription service, and that the program is intended to appeal to new and experienced players alike.
“It’s beneficial for all players. Obviously for players who have been with PlayStation for a long time and who have been with us on this gaming journey, we want to recognize and reward them in different ways, but there will be many aspects of this program that new customers will also enjoy,” Chen said.
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All players earn Loyalty Points that can be exchanged for PlayStation Network wallets (and thus exchanged for items worth real money). Gamers who are also subscribed to Sony’s online PlayStation Plus service will earn extra points to spend in the PlayStation Store, a benefit that non-subscribers will miss.
Players can redeem points for standalone games, additional content, and specially themed collectibles in the Reward Catalog. Sony plans to add new rewards, campaigns and collectibles over time.
While Sony was vague on details about the program, it said there will be a monthly check-in campaign that rewards users for playing at least one game, as well as other campaigns for winning tournaments and earning specific trophies. Other campaigns may ask players to play a particular game online.
PlayStation’s announcement reflects a greater shift in entertainment towards subscription models and more consumer-oriented initiatives.
“As a wide variety of entertainment services transition to subscriptions, loyalty is emerging as a critical metric,” said Joost van Dreunen, a games teacher at New York University Stern School of Business. “By encouraging players to check in regularly and making their membership more visible, Sony is likely to improve retention and brand loyalty. It will prove key at a time when inflation and an economic depression will weigh on consumer spending on games.”
As part of PlayStation Stars, the first player to reach Platinum – completing all in-game achievements – in a blockbuster title set in a local time zone will also receive a reward, preventing others from winning it. Chen said the company would work to minimize fraudulent activity in the event that people cheat or buy and sell accounts with certain rewards attached.
Another type of reward that Sony offers are digital collectibles, which are 3D-rendered representations of things like statuettes of video game characters and previous Sony devices. Some will be extremely rare and difficult to obtain. They are not non-functioning tokens, despite being digital and collectable as well.
“They are certainly not NFTs. Certainly not. You cannot trade or sell them. It doesn’t use blockchain technologies and certainly not NFTs,” Chen said.