So the rumours were true. Sony is introducing a paid-for PSN membership in the style of Xbox Live Gold. But is it worth upgrading? What exactly does it offer than you can't get on PSN already? And are those offerings worth the an extra fifty dollars/euros?
We've inspected the newly-released details of the whole package and laid it all out for you.
Meaning: Every month, certain PS3, PSN and PSOne games will become available to download and play for free. Each game will be unlocked in its entirety, but only for a designated time period (which hasn't been given out yet. Could be the whole month, could be four minutes, could be anywhere in between). However long it is though, there will be a new line-up of games each month.
Exciting? Yep. Provided the time limit is generous and you can play fast enough, you could theoretically complete several games a month for free. Provided they're all good enough for you to want to of course.
Above: Wipeout HD is confirmed as one of these
Meaning: Similar to the above, covering downloadable PSN games, PSOne games, and Minis. These games will be yours for as long as you have a PlayStation Plus membership. As above, there's no word yet on how many games there will be, and additionally we're not yet sure how often (or if) the line-up will be expanded or changed. We bet it will happen, but certainly less than monthly.
Exciting? Also yes, though mileage may vary depending on exactly how this is run. If it's a set, one-off selection of games, it'll be okay, but we'd rather be thrown a couple of free, decent games every few months. Hopefully that's how it'll work out. Maybe just when you renew a subscription.
Meaning: PlayStation Plus exclusive Avatars and themes shall be yours. If, you know, you're into that sort of thing.
Exciting? Not really. But then we've never been the kind to get excited over the peripheral decorative bobbins on our screens when we can be playing games or watching films instead. If you deeply care about the picture behind your menus though, go nuts.
Above: This place us going to get cheaper, as long as you buy enough
Meaning: Every month a set number of PS3 and PSP games will get a price drop on the PS Store. These will change every month
Exciting? Yes, but we do find the concept of paying for a discount kind of amusingly counter-intuitive. Though if enough of the games are good ones that you were going to buy anyway, PlayStation Plus will pay for itself eventually.
Meaning? Betas, game demos and videos will be unlocked for paying members earlier than for non-paying members. No word on whether this will be the case for all demos across the board, but we'd assume Sony will just keep it to selected high-profile stuff.
Exciting? If you absolutely have to have everything first, then yeah. Betas and demos are great after all, but just remember that you are essentially paying for adverts, however much fun those adverts are.
Above: Hopefully we're looking at less of this time-wasting life-drain
Meaning? Updates to games will download straight to your machine without you having to do anything, hopefully meaning significantly less hours spent waiting to install patches before you can play.
Exciting? Yes, actually. Updates can take an ungodly amount of time to download and install over the PSN, so this improvement is more than welcome.
Is PlayStation Plus going to be worth it? Yes, we think it probably is. But that conclusion comes with the caveat that the value you get from it will depend on how many games you already regularly buy from the PlayStation Store, amd whether the stuff you genuinely want pops up for demo or discount. We've just had word from Sony Europe that the Euro version of PlayStation Plus will offer £200 of content value over a year in exchange for a £39:99 subscription, and at that sort of ratio the line-up of free stuff would have to be absolute dross for you not to make a profit.
That said, XBLA has regular (if less frequent) content sales of its own, and you don't need to be a Gold member to participate in those. Our advice? Wait until PlayStation Plus launches, try the three month trial, and see if the exact stuff on offer takes your fancy. If so, we can't see that you won't get something out of it.
In Europe, PlayStation Plus will cost £39:99 a year, or £11:99 for 90 days. In the US, it will cost $49:99 and £17:99 respectively.
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