Reaction: PS Stars is late but appreciated, but there's plenty of room for improvement

Reaction: PS Stars is late but appreciated, but there’s plenty of room for improvement

Reaction: PS Stars is late but appreciated, but there is plenty of room to grow 1
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The console landscape is changing. While the PS5 – despite all its pandemic-induced inventory issues – remains one of the all-time fast-selling formats, the so-called “network effect” that determined previous generations is eroding. With cross play gaining popularity in many of the biggest franchises, including FIFA and Call of Duty, there’s less reason to own the same brand as your friends. Plus, stronger competition from Microsoft and Nintendo means there are more viable alternatives to PlayStation than perhaps there were before.

None of this should belittle Sony’s efforts, of course, it’s just the reality – the manufacturer needs to adapt and work a little harder to retain customer loyalty. It’s there that PS Stars comes into play, of course: a long-awaited retention system, free to join and which tries to “play” the whole ecosystem. After launching last week in North America and several days ago in Europe, it’s extremely early for service, but it’s a welcome addition nonetheless.

Many, of course, will point to established Microsoft and Nintendo patterns and use them to illustrate the shortcomings here. But it’s important to stress the point above: we’re not even a month away from this program yet, and we’d like to think that Sony has a roadmap to improve its overall offering now that it’s dipped its toes into the water. That said, to face the big smelly elephant looking over our shoulder: no, this loyalty program is not as solid as what the competition offers. That doesn’t make it worthless, though.

Currently limited to PS appwith native support for the PS5 promised soon, the main feature here is the fact that PS Plus members can earn points on every purchase. We’ve tested it, and it doesn’t matter what you spend on – whether it’s games, subscriptions, downloadable content or microtransactions – you’ll get ten points for every dollar spent. (Or the equivalent in your currency, of course.) You’ll actually be surprised how quickly it adds up if you’re a big PS Shop user; somehow we’ve already amassed over 300 points, without even really trying. Scary!

Of course, the advantage here is that these points can then be redeemed for PS Store credit. It’s a shame that you can only “buy” wallet refills; we think the Nintendo format, where you can redeem your coins whenever you save even a few cents, is superior. But nevertheless, until this month, you have nothing back on your PS Store purchases, and now you’re getting around four percent back. Look, maybe it’s not enough what you wanted, but as big spenders on PlayStation, we’re definitely going to support that, which was the case just a few weeks ago. You do you.

There are other ways to earn points, and we believe these will multiply as the service matures. For example, if you buy one of the current PS Store picks, you can get a 50 point bonus on top of your cashback, as described above. Obviously this is going to become Sony’s way of incentivizing purchases, but then again, if you were planning on buying, say, Inscryption anyway – well, why not take the bonus extra? As we mentioned above, the points add up quickly.

Reaction: PS Stars is late but appreciated, but there's plenty of room to grow 2
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Perhaps the differentiator here is the Digital Collectibles. They’re actually amazingly well-rendered dioramas that include famous PlayStation products and even characters. The selection, so far, leans heavily on Ape Escape – which is an interesting pick for launch, but we’re sure Aloy, Kratos and the like will follow suit. These are actually surprisingly well sculpted; we love the PS1’s T-Rex tech demo, which clings to the Sly Cooper staff for some reason. It’s a nice little easter egg for longtime PlayStation fans.

In fact this whole system reminds us of what Trophies were supposed be. The veterans among you might remember the golden days of the PS3, when Sony was promoting PS Home and promising that you could display your trophies in your personal apartment. This obviously never materialized, it was a pie-in-the-sky idea (although we’re sure the manufacturer experimented with it internally), but you actually get a little showcase on the PS app and the platform holder has promised to integrate it into PS5 profiles in the future. So, that’s pretty cool, right?

We feel, however, that the campaigns themselves could be a little more inventive. Until now, it was mainly about starting games, although the Hit Play / 1994 it works a bit like a quiz. We can’t help but think about the amount of electricity and bandwidth consumed by people downloading 75GB games in order to unlock a virtual game. chord machinebut we’re guessing that’s all a net positive for Sony’s monthly active user stats, and as we’ve hinted, it’ll be a huge driver behind the initiative’s existence to begin with.

Reaction: PS Stars is late but appreciated, but there's plenty of room to grow 3

Obviously, as we mentioned before, there is room for improvement here. Better challenges and more meaningful rewards are a must. But as we’ve mentioned many times, we’re finally getting cash back on our PS Store purchases. Do we wish it was more? Absolutely – but we will take Something more nothing. Digital collectibles, useless as they are, are just the pretty little icing on the cake from where we’re sitting. So, PS Stars: it’s not really a star yet, isn’t it? More like one of the supporting cast of a canceled Netflix show. But look, it’s a welcome addition and there’s still plenty of time for it to develop.


If you are looking to get started, you can refer to our PS Stars Guide for more information, including how to complete many campaigns. Of course, we would also like to know your opinion on the loyalty program and how you think it should be improved. Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


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