What am I paying for?
PlayStation Plus Gets Right
- + Amazing value
- + Great range of games
- + Perfect for frugal gamers
- + One time payment
PlayStation Plus Gets Wrong
- - It's a lucky dip: we need to know what's coming up or else it's best never to buy
- - A first for games, but it feels very young compared to movie and music offerings
A little over three months ago I finally turned to PlayStation Plus -- Sony’s paid online subscription offering a lottery of “instant” games each month across its aging PS3 and Vita ranges.
At first I was apprehensive. It’s a lucky dip asking for a full year’s payment upfront (for the complete savings) and there’s no indication as to how much value $70 will buy across the course of a subscription; especially with the PlayStation 4 on the horizon and lingering rumours of an overhaul to Sony’s online network to maximise profits closer inline with Microsoft’s “pay to play” rort.
But with BioShock 2 delivered in my first month of membership, followed by Sleeping Dogs, the exquisite Okami, relatively new Hitman: Absolution and shockingly under-appreciated Catherine, Plus has already paid for itself.
PlayStation Plus is the perfect subscription for the frugal gamer... I feel as if I’ve walked out of Myer having just snagged a stack of new releases from the $5 bin because some wrinkled old crone didn’t know what she was almost giving away.
These are five unique games encompassing different genres and target markets that usually wouldn’t mingle, yet are captivating enough that most should find solace within three or four of the five.
Best of all, these are games worth playing that, for whatever reason, slipped under the radar during prime time and have made a timely return to a new and willing audience. I never played Catherine. Everyone told me to, but it was too obscure and I didn’t think I’d have the time to commit to what is still an expensive puzzle game -- I already have a sky-high pile of unfinished shame that engulfed discretionary income I didn’t actually have from three years ago.
PlayStation Plus thrust these upon me like an arranged marriage. There was no choice on my behalf, but unlike trigger-happy parents, I’m pleased with the results. I’d have never bought any of these on my own accord, but I’ve enjoyed playing snippets of each, and I feel as if I’ve walked out of Myer having just snagged a stack of new releases from the $5 bin because some wrinkled old crone didn’t know what she was almost giving away.
And these are just the beginning. Accompanying the marquee release every month is a lesser retail game (like the terrible F1 Race Stars and the Lord of the Rings game isn’t all that flash either) and a downloadable game you’d probably forgotten to buy, alongside a spate of Vita games -- okay usually two Vita games, but last I checked there are only about seven worth playing on the plateauing handheld and almost all of them rotate through the Plus catalogue.
If you own both platforms, the benefits will overflow each month. I’ll probably never buy another Vita game again; I’m rarely in a rush to play them, and everything is almost guaranteed to wind up in the Instant Collection eventually.
To entice you further, Plus members are given around 25 percent off selected new digital offerings -- but it foils itself by coercing you into never paying for anything -- and there’s early access to betas but, frankly, these are as interesting as the stick my dog thoughtfully brings me in excitement upon returning home.
But let’s back-peddle -- why are you never parting with your hard earned coin again? Simple: why buy now, when it will be free later?
As it stands, PlayStation Plus incentivises users to snub purchasing games and wait for them to join the Instant Collection. You could buy Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon for 25 percent off now. But if you wait a few months, that will probably whittle down to a saving of 100 percent.
As a consumer, I’m not bothered. I’ll wait a little longer to get a better deal. But as a gamer, I’d like to know what’s coming out in the near future. The catch 22 is publishers not wanting Sony to reveal PlayStation Plus plans well in advance to ensure sales remain steady. If I told you Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance was joining the Instant Games Collection in August, would any subscribers buy it now? But without that knowledge, I’ll potentially forgo several of this year’s downloadable gems, like Guacamelee, assuming they’ll eventually roll over to a $0 download.
At the beginning of my turning point, I listed what I loved and hated about Sony’s subscription service. Three months into the journey, most of my concerns remain, albeit diminished perhaps due to acceptance, but I’ve drifted further into the love spectrum of our flimsy relationship.
I’m more convinced than ever that the astonishing value is heavily skewed in my favour and that Sony is well ahead of the competition when it comes to the future of games distribution. Spotify and Netflix have hit the nail on the head with unlimited subscription services, and I fully expect PlayStation Plus as we know it to become a prelude to something similar on the PS4.
The Final Verdict
If you own a PS3 and a Vita, you’d be a fool not to invest in a PlayStation Plus subscription. For less than one new release game, I’ve already been treated to four must-have PS3 games and as many again on Vita, and my membership still has another nine months to run. While it might seem like the perfect situation for a big-spending gamer, it's better suited towards the exact opposite. PlayStation Plus is the perfect subscription for the frugal gamer. If you don’t care about new releases, it could become your preferred gaming source.