At first glance, PlayStation Rewards seems to offer many of the same features as PlayStation Plus. However, the two services are separate from each other and will offer different bonuses. Rewards is free, and will be open to all PlayStation owners, regardless of Plus status -- although, Plus members are more likely to be offered entry into the service during the beta.
Like Club Nintendo and Square Enix Members, PlayStation Rewards is tiered, separating its members into three groups: Select, Pro and Legendary. Playing games, downloading demos, using PlayStation Home, being active on the PlayStation.com Forums, answering surveys and buying content on the PlayStation Store are some of the ways in which members can increase their ranks in a Trophy-inspired leveling system.
Susan Panico, senior director of the PlayStation Network, described the service as the next-generation follow-up to previous PlayStation loyalty programs, the PlayStation Underground and Gamer Advisory Panel of the PS2 and PS1 eras. When asked if Rewards and Plus could eventually be merged, Panico emphasized that Plus will continue to offer exclusive benefits (such as prepaid access to select games), whereas Rewards is meant for everyone, including loyal fans that haven't paid for Plus.
"Our goal was to say 'thank you' for being engaged with us," Panico said. "Part of that engagement may be that they're a Plus member, which is a highly valued engagement with us. But there are a lot of people that spend a lot of time with PlayStation Network, as well as on the console, that we wanted to give a simple surprise and delight. A way of saying, 'Hey, thanks for being a valued customer for a really long time!'"