IDO: Playstation Plus

Well what do you know, looks like I’m in a bit more of an apologetic mood than usual. Let’s do another one.

I N   D E F E N S E   O F

–==Playstation Plus==–


For those without a current generation Playstation console or just not in the know, Playstation Plus is a completely optional online subscription service for owners of its consoles, launched by Sony in mid-2010. In Australia, it costs $20 for a 90-day subscription and $70 for a year’s worth. The company also likes to throw around free 30-day trials for the service as bonuses with its new games from time to time. The biggest reason to be a member of Playstation Plus is access to what the company calls its “instant game collection”, which is basically a constantly changing list of games available as full downloads for free. Members are able to play these full games until their subscription runs out, at which point they have to either renew their subscription, pay for the game completely or surrender the legal right to play it. The service also provides small discounts on normally priced game downloads (which can be played for as long as you like) and allows for automatic game and system updates on PS3 while it isn’t being used, among other things. Glad we got that out of the way. Now:


The Case Against:
The one thing that the Playstation 3 always had over the Xbox 360 in the online department was that it was free. You didn’t have to pay any stupid yearly online fees just to enjoy a multiplayer game online with your friends. While Playstation Plus technically doesn’t change that, it does represent a cynical attempt by Sony to take more money from its loyal customers. This leaves a bit of a sour taste in the mouth, but it’s nothing compared to the outrage that is the service itself. The idea of downloading a game and being forced to pay to keep playing it is utterly repulsive. The service is a blight on the Playstation name and it should not exist.

More like Playstation Minus, amirite? hehe

The Defense:
A lot of things attract hate on the internet. Wait, what am I saying? Everything attracts hate on the internet. But the reasons for hating on Playstation Plus that I most often encounter on forums and the like are simply some of the weakest I have ever seen. And they are a lot more plentiful than they should be.

I got this for free.

I got this for free.

For starters, as long as we’re talking about entertainment media services, complaining about the existence of an optional extra is rarely a strong position to take. When said optional extra does not include anything that should be fundamental to the main service itself, the position is downright foolhardy. Yet when it comes to Playstation Plus people still stick to it, supposedly ignoring the fact that its existence doesn’t actually make a regular Playstation Network account any less free to use. Furthermore, the notion of arguing against being “forced to pay” for a game is just hilarious, considering 1) it doesn’t cost anything to download the game, 2) the argument implies that you are entitled to play a game you haven’t paid for, which is presumptuous and arrogant, and 3) the value for money in the service, assuming you do pay one of the two fee options, is just ridiculous. In a very good way.

I got this for free.

I got this for free.

Take the current situation, for example. Logging onto the Australian Playstation Store on a PS3 as a Playstation Plus member will currently allow you to download the full versions of Hitman Absolution, Catherine, Infamous 2, LittleBigPlanet 2 and Dead or Alive 5, among other smaller titles. Going off their normal download prices, that’s over $250 in value for just $70, assuming you pay the absolute highest Playstation Plus fee you can.  Sure, maybe you don’t want all of those games, but the free line-up is ever-changing. Since I joined the service last year I’ve downloaded Just Cause 2, Scott Pilgrim vs the World and Bioshock 2, all free. In the past I’ve also been able to download the likes of Sleeping Dogs, Borderlands, Saints Row 2, Resident Evil 5 and Quantum Conundrum as well, just naming some options off the top of my head.

The value only gets better if you throw the Playstation Vita into the mix. Downloading Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Gravity Rush, two of the absolute best titles on the handheld, justifies the yearly fee in two quick taps of the touch screen. Uncharted alone still retails for $70 anyway. I probably would not have paid to download indie game Thomas Was Alone, but Playstation Plus allowed me to experience it and I liked the game enough to purchase its DLC expansion. Then there’s Virtue’s Last Reward, which I had barely heard of before it appeared on the Vita’s instant game list last month. I played it, I loved it, I finished it 100% and I reviewed it on this very site. All that wouldn’t have happened without Playstation Plus.

I, uh, got this for free.

I, uh, got this for free.

The argument against having to renew one’s subscription to keep playing an eligible game is also weak. Those who insist on making it should seriously ask themselves how long it takes to finish a game. Once you’re done with a videogame, it shouldn’t matter that you can no longer play it when your subscription runs out. That much is rather self-explanatory, one would hope.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that automatic update feature. The feature can be switched off by those who don’t want it, but in my experience I’ve found it to be immensely useful. The state of Australian wireless internet connections is rather average to say the least, but mine is particularly bad, so if I try to download anything bigger than a couple of gigabytes on my PS3 during the day I usually have to throw in the towel. But now I can usually come back to my console the next day and find that my downloads have all finished, having taken advantage of the much less competitive nighttime wireless infrastructure. Lovely.

And again, all this stuff is OPTIONAL.



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