I only recently got PlayStation Plus. Already I find myself tormented over both loving and hating the concept. On one hand, it feels like it should be great value, but I’ll only be able to judge that after a full year. On the other, I don’t own anything, and if I already have many of the discounted games, what am I paying for?
Disclaimer: Notice the lack of the word “buy” above. That’s because no money actually exchanged hands. Sony gave me a 12 month subscription to PlayStation Plus.
Now that we’ve gotten past the moralities, here’s why I both love and hate the PlayStation’s subscription service.
Why I LOVE PlayStation Plus
I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t “get it” when I first heard about PlayStation Plus. I like to know what I’m paying for and try to minimise my on-going subscriptions in all facets of life, as I rarely enjoy them enough to extract genuine value for money.
PlayStation Plus is different.
As soon as you get a subscription, you’ll never want to cancel. There’s a wealth of content unleashed each month that remains linked to your account so long as you’re a paying subscriber, even once it has been removed from the current promotional cycle. After a year, you should have a plethora of games that would have cost thousands of dollars -- had you bought them all at launch -- for $70 in Australia and $50 in the US.
We pay for the same for Xbox Live. In comparison, it feels like I’m being inundated with free games every month.
There’s always something to play
Have you ever stared at your massive pile of games, only to conclude that you have nothing to play?
PlayStation Plus doesn’t immediately solve that conundrum, but it does expand your collection beyond your go-to franchises. That’s the best part: you’ve paid your money, and get access to a bunch of games you wouldn’t normally consider buying. It doesn’t mean they’re bad, but rather something your budget-conscious-self wouldn’t normally risk hard-earned cash on -- PS Plus offers the reward without the risk.
You can experience everything offered in the Instant Games collection or enter a beta for a game you mightn’t have otherwise considered. With time, you’ll build up four or five hundred gigabytes of games that can be accessed so long as your subscription is active -- try telling me you still have nothing to play!
I actually want to use my Vita
We have two PlayStation Vitas in the MMGN office, but zero chargers, relegating them into the box of utterly useless tripe that inundates the media (good news, you can win most of this
rubbish unique stuff in our podcast).
Since getting PlayStation Plus, I’ve taken to eBay in search of a charger and resurrected what turns out to be a more than survivable handheld. Since most quality Vita games were released over six months ago, they’re constantly being cycled through PlayStation Plus.
If you were to buy a Vita now, there is no reason to pay for any games. Keep your PS Plus subscription active -- one subscription works across PS3 and Vita -- and you’ll gain access to everything worth playing and do away with pesky cartridges.
The future of content
Netflix, Hulu and Spotify are all services mostly unavailable in Australia (besides the latter) and the future of entertainment media. Paying a subscription for unlimited access to television, music and movies is well on the way to superseding broadcast television, buying individual tracks and heading to the local video store.
It makes sense that games follow a similar path.
PlayStation Plus is the beginning. It isn’t of the same calibre as Netflix and by contrast is quite limited, but it’s also very early days. In 15 years we may well look back at PlayStation Plus as a pioneer in the way we consume games.
Why I HATE PlayStation Plus
It’s lucky dip - I want a Premium account
PlayStation Plus’s biggest hook is its Instant Games Collection. Over time, it becomes an invaluable asset for any PlayStation 3 and Vita owner, but there’s no denying that it’s all one big $70 lucky dip.
You have no idea what you’re going to great.
Great! Sleeping Dogs is free this month, but if you sign up now, what will you get during the next eleven months?
As mentioned above, PS Plus is the future of content ownership, and it kind of is, but it’s in its infancy. Spotify and Netflix dominate music, movies and television because they offer unlimited access to whatever you want for a monthly fee.
PlayStation Plus offers unlimited access to a small selection of content available this month and whatever was available in the previous months in which you were a member, if you remembered to “purchase” each item.
Moving forwards, PlayStation Plus needs to develop a Premium model. Something that allows unlimited access to everything on the store for a more expensive monthly fee. Now, publishers won’t go for that over slugging you $80 per game at a bricks and mortar. That’s why physical retail games should be excluded (for now), and continue to be rotated on a monthly basis.
Under my scheme, you should pay $x per month for unlimited access to every PSN arcade (read: digital-only) game.
Once that’s sorted, we can talk about adding every game to the scheme, including full price releases, and forget about individual purchases all together. It might seem far-fetched now, but subscriptions to unlimited music, TV and movies were laughable ten years ago. Surely it’s also the future of games.
Nobody ain't got space for that!
My 120GB Slim PlayStation 3 currently has five games on its HDD. It claims to have 28GB of free space, and yet, the expansion of downloads means it won’t let me download a 15GB game.
If you’re going to pay for PlayStation Plus, you need well upwards of 500GB of storage space. Sony is kind enough to let you slip any 2.5” drive into its baby, but that requires time and money.
The bigger concern is the Vita. Likewise, you need a bigger memory card and Sony’s monopoly has led to outrageous pricing. It also means that none are really big enough long-term, so you’ll probably need to go without dinner for a week every year as larger memory cards are released.
It’s incentive not to buy new games
I’m never going to buy a game on PlayStation 3 again. Especially digital games, assuming they’ll roll onto PlayStation Plus eventually. If I really want something now, I’ll buy it on another platform, and play it on PS3 or Vita later.
Isn’t this incentive not to buy newer games, at least on PS3? If Sony isn’t going to adopt my ingenious Premium subscription, it at least needs to do something to compensate players who use PlayStation Plus -- perhaps by offering more recent games.
The rental trap - you can never cancel
The rental trap is why PlayStation Plus culminates in a love-hate relationship. PlayStation fans will never want to cancel their subscriptions, which is good, but cancellers are the big losers.
Overall, the more I use PlayStation Plus, the more I enjoy it. However, I’m concerned about how Plus will fit into Sony’s plans for the PlayStation 4...
By Ben Salter
What do you think of PlayStation Plus?