Exclusive content, discounts, free games, beta access and much more was all promised at launch, but given Microsoft’s dominance at the time, a far superior marketplace experience and exclusive content, I was not holding out much hope of seeing value for my money. Sony doesn’t charge for online access unlike Microsoft, so the fanboys went mad, “you’re getting charged now”, “they will frig the service for all that don’t move across”, “the only thing you had was free online now you don’t even have that”, “PS3 sucks”, and many other slurs were thrown around; even PS3 owners themselves were uncertain about what Sony were trying to do.
So almost a year in, I thought I would share my thoughts on what you actually get for your money, and whether or not I will be looking to renew my subscription for another year.
Before we even start talking about what was and wasn’t available, you need to know that if you take out membership, and then do not renew, you will lose access to the content that you previously downloaded for free. Discounted content is still valid, but free content will be locked out until you renew your licence. At the launch of the service Sony promised the following:
“Each month there will be a selection of 1x PSN game, 2x minis and 1x PS One classics. A list of the games available in month 1 and 2 can be found below. You will be able to download these games during the month they are available, until the new selection replaces these.”
When to start your subscription may be influenced by what game is currently being given away! That’s right, Sony have been offering full PS3 games when you take out your membership, that’s yours to keep forever (as long as your subscription is up-to-date). These are typically older titles, but with games like Little Big Planet and Rachet & Clank available, quality has not exactly been lacking. These typically change every couple of months, and no information is given as to what is going to be given away in the future, so if you see something you like, take the opportunity to get it when you can.
As with the PS Store, the Plus member content is released around midday every Tuesday. A collection of discounted titles, content, avatars and themes, as well as free PS1, Minis, DLC and full game trials are changed almost every week. The full game trials allow you to play anywhere between 1 and 3 hours, should you choose to then purchase the game you will retain all progress and trophies collected along the way.
Puzzle games and minis get the most attention, with titles including Cuboid, Shatter and Field Runners all cropping up throughout the year for free.
Exclusive content is typically limited to early releases of Beta’s with the most recent being Killzone 3, SOCOM, UFC 2010, MAG and the upcoming Battlefield 3 all getting early releases. Sonic 2 has been exclusive for the past couple of weeks, but will ultimately end up in the main PS Store at some point. Exclusive access has been limited, so if a private members club of gaming, surrounded by AAA beta’s was what you had pictured, it may be worth rethinking before you buy.
The main feature titles and PS1 classics are released less frequently and for limited periods, but there are some great games available for free. Sam & Max, Red Faction Battlegrounds, Abe’s Odyssey, Lead & Gold, Stacking and Final Fantasy VII have all been free at some point throughout the year, providing some great fillers between Call of Duty releases ;) (I just swallowed a little bit of sick). DLC also receives the free treatment with Killzone 2 & 3 map packs, GT5, LBP and Unchartered among the many to be offered, helping to lighten the burden on the wallet.
Supporting all of this are then the discounted titles and releases. Too many to number, it would be fair to say that almost all expansions, digitally released titles, and accessories receive some form of discount from 20 to 80%, although Activision titles never seem to feature among them…..
Before I bore you with the list of content that I have downloaded over the past 11 months, I would just like to point out that I never thought I would get my money back from this. Sony had promised lots before and failed so miserably, with Home the most glaringly obvious choice to point out here, so when I finally totalled all this up and came to the final figure I was shocked at not only the cost that this would have been had I actually bought each title at full price, but the hours that I’ve whiled away over the year playing each of them too.
Content Downloaded for Free:
- Redfaction: Battleground
- Sonic 1
- Sonic 2
- Prince of Persia Classic
- Lead & Gold
- Sackboy Prehistoric Moves
- Critter Crunch
- Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo HD Remix
- Sam & Max Episodes 1-5 The Devils Playhouse
- Zen Pinball
- Little Big Planet
- Abe’s Odyssey
- Abe’s Exodus
- Final Fantasy VII
- Syphon Filter
- Guilty Gear
- Age of Zombies
- Field Runners
- Pixel Love Rush
- Samurai Showdown
So, for a punt at £39.99 last June, I have managed to accumulate £156.40 worth of content that still remains on my hard disk. There have been many other titles that have come and gone, and several discounted add ons that I simply have not included (because it would have taken too long to figure out). I will definitely be renewing my subscription to Playstation Plus, and would thoroughly recommend it to anyone else who has the money to spare to do the same. It won’t change your life, but it’s nice to receive little gifts each week that you may otherwise not have purchased, or have been able to.