During¬ Sony’s press conference last week at E3, one of the biggest announcements for PlayStation 3 owners was the addition of PlayStation Plus to the PS Network. While Sony tried to make the addition of the PlayStation Plus sound as exciting as they could, details were unclear on just what online features this costly upgrade would provide. Since the current PSN already offers online multiplayer and access to DLC, the big question is what will an additional $50 a year for Plus get you?
The first assumption you’re going to want to make is that this is simply Sony’s version of Xbox Live Gold, except for the fact that PSN is already a step ahead by providing online multiplayer and access to DLC right off the bat for free. What PSN Plus is doing then, is enhancing rather than expanding several aspects of a gamer’s overall online experience. These new enhancements include discounted games, prior access to betas and trials, demo-to-game continuation, free games here and there, and an automated downloading service.¬†The price is going to be $17.99/mo and $49.99/yr, with the latter being the much better deal, for any subscribers 18 and older.
Most of these additions justify the price tag, mainly the free games, add-ons, and discounts in the PSN store. The free mini and arcade games, even PS One classics, are obviously included as incentives to purchase the PSN Plus upgrade. Discounts in the store will act similar to those on Steam, where weekly and monthly deals will include up to 50% off popular titles and DLC. The discounts are sure to become popular and invite gamers to revisit the store more frequently. Early access to betas is another Plus feature that is worth paying up for, since there are plenty of big-name titles coming over the next year.
With all that said, however, PSN Plus includes a few enhancements that PlayStation 3 owners shouldn’t have to pay for. Let’s consider the automated download service as a brand new feature. It’s a fantastic software upgrade that gives the PS3 the ability to update games, or download betas as they become available, all on its own without having to be manually turned on. So why in the world is this not free for everyone with the console?¬†PSN Plus also comes with other features that shouldn’t have a $50 price tag attached to them, like the ability to continue game progression off a demo if the full title is purchased.
Overall, it feels like PlayStation Plus is taking some intelligent software advances for the PSN and then wrapping them around discounts and free titles in order to retailed it to PS3 owners. It’s hard to say whether or not access to betas, premium add-ons, downloadable content, discounts, and free titles will make paying a monthly/annual fee worth it. No matter how much you are willing to spend, it’s a shame Sony is withholding some of the best PSN features from everyone who’s not a subscriber to PlayStation Plus.