I have a Sony Playstation 3. I have a bad habit of backing the losers of each gaming generation (I had a Saturn, Dreamcast, X-Box, and Gamecube.) I’ve had to deal with Microsoft signing a lot of games (especially more indie titles) to exclusivity (at the very least for a period of time) that I would have liked to play (such as Braid or Castle Crashers, by the time the latter came out on PSN I had lost all interest.) One of the major selling points of the PS3 has been that it has free online access as opposed to the XBOX 360 where, unless you subscribe to the “gold” level service at a rate of $30 – $60 per year (the manufacturer’s suggested retail price is $60 per year, but vouchers can often be found for less) the online functionality was essentially crippled .
Then at some point Sony introduced Playstation Plus, which seemed to have a nebulous value proposition for customers. What was the “plus”? At first it just offered discounts on selected games at selected times on the Playstation network. Eventually Sony began to integrate the service to enhance some functions of the Playstation, such as allowing for game saves in the cloud (which was of limited benefit unless you have multiple PS3s for some reason) and doing updates automatically (which was a better use, as updates on the PS3 were slow and annoying so it was nice to have the system run them at 2 AM or something so the process was made “invisible” to the user.)
At the Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3) this year, Sony announced a new feature for the Playstation Plus: “free” video games. Of course the discussion of “free” is open to debate … and, oh, how it gets debated!
So there’s this webpage, Cheapassgamer, which actually has a decent forum for finding out about sales and such on video games, consoles, and accessories. I pretty much only read the forums, which seems to be where the meat of the content can be found (although the guys who run the site have a podcast which I used to listen to, it was decently entertaining so far as video game podcasts go.)
Basically, the discussion on PS+ can be boiled down to three groups of people:
- Those who pay for and enjoy the service.
- Those who feel the service is a complete ripoff.
- Those who don’t bothered to read any previous discussion and thus keep asking the same few questions over and over.
Now that I think about it, this actually probably summarizes the sides of 90% of discussions online.
One might expect that group 2’s problem with PS+ would be one of semantics: because the game came with the $50/year subscription it’s not really “free.” Fair enough, but that group of people probably realizes that such an argument would be pedantic. Their issue is this: once the subscription to PS+ lapses, despite these games’ continued presence on the PS3 hard drive (games are downloaded,) they can’t be played (but they can be played if the subscription is later renewed.) To them, the potential to no longer have access to the games (this isn’t the same as an “always on” DRM scheme, where the console would have to be able to constantly be in touch with a Sony server in order for game access to continue, which is very annoying) negates any value to be obtained from temporary ownership of the game. It’s an insane view (I guess they never rented a video or game from Blockbuster) that they absolutely will not shut the hell up about. Basically, any enthusiasm (or, dread of dreads, mention of “free games”) is immediately met with a chorus of “well, it’s not really free now, is it?”
And then there’s the people who every couple of pages ask “wait, so if I get a game and then my subscription lapses …” even though they could have just gone two pages back to see the response to the last time someone asked the exact same question.
Idiocy of the people on that forum aside, I’m actually very pleased with Playstation Plus. The discounts on games are of minimal benefit (might not be enough to make up for the cost of the subscription), the automatic updating is a nice bonus, but I completely agree with Sony’s promotion of PS+ as an “instant game collection.” For $50/year (it’s a little harder to find subscription vouchers for less, although it’s not impossible) you could have your gaming needs met. They won’t exactly be new releases, and I suspect it will consist primarily of games published by Sony, but they’re still good games, and the PSN has been home to a lot of great indie titles that I hope Sony will try to push with this program.