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PlayStation Plus: Two Years Later
Haters will hate, but PS+ continues to be an exceptional service.
In late June of 2010, PlayStation Plus launched to the masses, weeks after Sony introduced it at its E3 press conference. Immediately, the service had an army of detractors that claimed PlayStation Plus wasn’t worth its meager price of admission. Two years later and under a mountain of free games, services and other offerings, we can clearly see how wrong those detractors were, and how wrong they continue to be.
I was as skeptical as anyone else when PlayStation Plus was being primed for launch, but after paying my way into the service with a year’s subscription on the very first day it became available (June 29, 2010 to be exact), I instantly became a believer. You see, it wasn’t only about what PlayStation Plus offered immediately, but rather about the untold, unknown freebies that lay somewhere in the unforeseen future. To me, PlayStation Plus became a bit like playing the lottery, one that only required a yearly fee of $50 with new returns coming several times a month. Some of those returns were far better than others, but there was something fun about not knowing what was next. (This is something Sony has since rectified by announcing the freebies early.)
I may have been wrong about E3 predictions and the Vita's debut, but I’m proud to have been right from the get-go about PlayStation Plus. Its optional nature makes it invaluable to players because, unlike the competition, PlayStation Network remains inherently free while the most ardent and 🤬 PlayStation gamers can opt to pay $50 (or £39.99 in the UK and $69.99 in Australia) for something extra. Plus hasn’t changed the nature of what PSN is; it’s simply made the Network more dynamic and full of more options for the increasing number of gamers that game on PlayStation 3. I very much believe that the free model of online services is the future; effectively giving players tiers to choose from splits the difference.
People may say that PlayStation Plus is a rip off because you don’t get to keep the games you get for free. This, of course, has marked the height of ludicrous arguments against Sony’s service. As a Podcast Beyond listener told me, you don’t hear anyone making those same complaints about Netflix. And he’s exactly right. PlayStation Plus’ offer of free games is identical to Netflix’s array of movies: keep your subscription active and enjoy the wares to your heart’s content. Let your subscription lapse, and you’re cut off. And this doesn’t only go for Netflix. If you’re a subscriber to services like Spotify or use Amazon Prime to stream free movies and still attack PlayStation Plus on this front without attacking the others, well...
This popular argument also ignores the entirely obvious. Discounts are, for many, the really enticing feature of PlayStation Plus. Twenty percent off a game here, 50 percent off a game there… that kind of cash adds up. And unlike the games offered for free, PlayStation Plus subscribers keep the games they bought at a discounted price outright, making those savings very real and, more importantly, very permanent. If you bought Journey for $7.50 instead of $15, for instance, that $7.50 you saved is in your pocket regardless of if you left your subscription lapse. Buy enough on PSN under Plus discounts, and you get your money back many times over.
Of course, there are other perks to PlayStation Plus that have nothing to do with games. There are exclusive betas and demos, automatic patch and firmware downloading, full game trials giving you free demo access to select titles, cloud storage for saves and more. But you get the point: PlayStation Plus is robust.
In North America, PlayStation Plus still has its problems. Unlike other territories, American and Canadian PlayStation Plus subscribers still don’t have access to Vita-related perks. And Sony could certainly make it far easier to navigate Plus-related wares and illustrate more clearly how much time your subscription has left on it and when it’s set to lapse. It would even be cool to see how much you’ve saved with your purchases and downloads. But frankly, these are minor gripes, because the inherent value of a PlayStation Plus subscription to the most 🤬 PlayStation audience saves them untold amounts of money.
Just look at the newest refresh to PlayStation Plus. The newly-coined “Instant Game Collection” gives players access to 12 free games – six retail and six PSN – immediately. In other words, your yearly investment is paid off as soon as you login for the first time. And these aren’t meager offerings, either. We’re talking about the likes of Infamous 2, LittleBigPlanet 2, Pac-Man Championship Edition DX and Sideway: New York. The average IGN score of the 12 “Instant Game Collection” titles? 8.4, or “Great” on the IGN scale (with no score lower than a 7, or “Good” on the IGN scale). The cost of all 12 of these games on PSN without PlayStation Plus? $289.88, averaging $24.16 per title, or nearly six times the cost of a yearly subscription.
Let’s just put it this way. PlayStation isn’t perfect. Far from it. Problems are abound on both PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita, and we discussed many of those issues just this past week. But focusing ire on PlayStation Plus – an amazing idea that Sony has executed beautifully – misses the mark completely. Let’s continue to hold Sony’s feet to the fire over the things the company can fix. Let’s not focus on diminishing one of the services that, frankly, PlayStation hit a homerun with.
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