Sony announces PlayStation Stars, a loyalty program for gamers

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Sony is adding a free rewards and loyalty program for gamers called PlayStation Stars. The program will launch “later this year,” the company said, though specific details about a release timeline remain under wraps.

Players can use PlayStation Stars to earn rewards through completing tasks, called “campaigns,” such as spending time on a particular title or working toward in-game achievements. It will be the first rewards program for the 27-year-old brand.

“We really feel like this is just the best time to be launching this type of program, in terms of us having the healthiest player base, the PlayStation 5, obviously, is a huge success and we really wanted to do something that can honor and celebrate PlayStation’s history, and now’s the best time to do so,” 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 honors that journey and the role that PlayStation may have had in someone’s life. We wanted to do that in a way that only PlayStation can.”

The program is named after stars because Sony liked their connotation of being unbound and limitless, which lines up with PlayStation’s slogan that “play has no limits.” Later this year, it will roll out to regions worldwide, including Asia, the Americas, Europe and more.

Chen said PlayStation Stars will not be a competitor to Xbox Game Pass, Microsoft’s video game subscription service, and that the program is meant to appeal to both new and veteran players.

“It’s beneficial for all players. Obviously, for players who have been with PlayStation for a long time and have been on this game journey with us, we want to be able to recognize and reward them in distinct ways, but there will be a lot of aspects about this program that new customers will enjoy as well,” Chen said.

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All players will earn loyalty points that can be redeemed for PlayStation Network wallet funds (and thus traded in for items worth real money). Gamers who are also subscribed to Sony’s PlayStation Plus online service will earn additional points to spend in the PlayStation Store, a perk that non-subscribers will miss out on.

Players can redeem points for stand-alone games, add-on content and specially themed collectibles in the reward catalogue. 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 might ask players to play a certain game online.

PlayStation’s announcement echoes a larger shift in the entertainment sphere toward subscription models and more consumer-facing initiatives.

“As a broad array of entertainment services move to subscriptions, loyalty emerges as a critical metric,” said Joost van Dreunen, a lecturer on the business of games at the New York University Stern School of Business. “By incentivizing players to check in regularly and making their membership more visible, Sony will likely improve retention and brand loyalty. It will prove key during a period in which inflation and an economic depression will weigh down consumer spending on games.”

As part of PlayStation Stars, the first player to reach platinum — completing all in-game achievements — in a blockbuster title in a local time zone will also receive a reward, precluding others from winning it. Chen said the company would work to minimize fraudulent activities in the event that people cheat or buy and sell accounts with certain rewards attached.

Another kind of reward Sony is offering is digital collectibles, which are 3D rendered representations of things like figurines of video game characters and past Sony devices. Some will be ultra rare and hard to obtain. They aren’t non-fungible tokens, despite also being digital and collectible.

“It’s definitely not NFTs. Definitely not. You can’t trade them or sell them. It is not leveraging any blockchain technologies and definitely not NFTs,” Chen said.

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