EVER SINCE THE PLAYSTATION NETWORK released onto the PS3 some people felt it had the upper hand in delivering content and online play for free. It’d be used as fuel for those against Microsoft’s route of charging its users to get access to early demos and to play online. However, earlier this year Sony announced the extension of its services by unveiling PlayStation Plus. It was long rumoured that Sony would eventually charge for its online services, but the company would have to be smart about its implementation. So instead of making the wider features of the PlayStation Network exclusive to paying customers, Sony has instead opted to give PlayStation Plus members access to content that an otherwise non-paying customer may easily forego.
Whether you drop $89.95 for a full year of the service or $26.95 for a 90-day membership, you will no doubt get access to plenty of content. Free games, discounted PSN content, full-game trials, avatars and much more instantly fi ll the PlayStation Plus section of the PlayStation Store. Sadly, you’re at the mercy of what Sony decides to put on offer each month. So while it’s great in concept, you run the risk of either already owning the content on offer or having no interest in that month’s selection.
Whether or not PlayStation Plus is for you comes down to the perceived value of what you’re paying for. At $90 for a one-year subscription, it might seem like a lot for early access to some demos and a handful of games each year. However, Sony claims that within that year you will have access to some $400 worth of content, which is nothing to scoff at. The only catch is that, once your subscription runs out, you can say goodbye to everything you’ve downloaded. While you will be given the option to pay for the content afterwards, you can’t help but think that Sony has essentially created an online game rental service that will undoubtedly make it a truckload of money.
Let’s look at it from the perspective of the likely user groups: hardcore and casual gamers. Those in the hardcore crowd will put through their payment and head onto the store to see what software they can start playing right away. A quick glance at the content on offer and they’ll see that the big free game of the month is likely something they bought, played and completed months ago. Further down the list are a couple of minis of the like they’ve probably already played on a handheld device sometime recently, a PSOne title they played two generations ago when they skipped a day of high school, and some free avatars for their account. It’s understandable that
those in that boat might suddenly regret their $90 payment, but something worthwhile is bound to come along in the next 365 days… right?
But it’s a completely different case for the casual audience, or those without a big budget for spending on the latest and greatest.
After wiping dust off your PS3 – the console only gets turned on once a month anyway – you decide to check out what all this PlayStation Plus nonsense is about. You sign up for the 90- day membership in the hope that there will be at least one game during that time that makes it worthwhile. As the screen fi lls with this month’s content you can’t help but feel that maybe playing Wipeout HD is worth it now that it says you get to play for free. In fact, there are a couple of minis and a PSOne title also showing up as free. That’s your $26.95 easily paid for. Plus, you have a few months to get through them.
While a service like this isn’t made for someone who buys a new game every other Just remember: WipeOut HD is among the fi rst free titles available to PlayStation Plus members. week, it defi nitely has a market in the casual audience or those with a lower gaming budget. once your membership runs out, it’s all gone.