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E3 2010: PlayStation Plus: What exactly are you getting?

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.

Monthly full-game trials
(with time limits)

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.

Free full games
(from a selection of Sony's choice)

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.

Free decorative guff

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.

Monthly online discounts

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.

Early content access

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.

Automatic downloads

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.

So?

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.

What do you think? Are you eager to sign up and pay up for the extras? Or can Sony just bugger off in this case? Let us know in the comments, or via our own little spots at Facebook and Twitter. 

23 comments

  • snothammer - June 18, 2010 7:03 a.m.

    I'm SO glad this will be optional. I, frankly, don't play or pay for modern games enough for this to be worth it. Free PSN was one of the main reasons why I decided to opt for a PS3 instead of a 360. So I'm glad that I'll still be able to play SSF4 and download free demos on the unique occasion that I choose to, while still being free. Anyway, I won't be paying for PSN Gold. Free games like Wipeout HD? Who cares? I'll save my $50 to buy a new game or two each year that I do want.
  • philipshaw - June 17, 2010 11:16 a.m.

    It seems cool but I will try the free trail and see if I want to pay for it
  • DrillurSimpson - June 17, 2010 4:33 a.m.

    I don't know what dross means. You UKer
  • krabsich - June 17, 2010 1:16 a.m.

    unlike installing another OS, having free psn was a selling point for me. although i will still get the basic package, it's unfortunate we have to pay for the privilege of early demos, games, and discounts. especially since 360 has a way better store for the same price. @RanGo: don't see a correlation between paying for a service and loving cock. how about "totally FUCKING PROSTITUTION!!!!!"?
  • FunkSoulBrother - June 17, 2010 12:47 a.m.

    Seems to me pointless mostly because I'm broke and could use the money more wisely
  • Hexar - June 16, 2010 10:46 p.m.

    @cart00n Those dedicated servers are few and far between on the 360 and most of the games use a P2P hosting system and others are hosted on servers provided by the publisher (EA does a few of these). On topic though I think that at least they've kept the gaming free, not that I use it at all, but at least it isn't being taken away. I won't be purchasing this anytime soon as I already have my XBL membership, I certainly can't justify paying Sony as well for many features I already get elsewhere.
  • RanGo - June 16, 2010 9:06 p.m.

    totally FUCKING GAY!!!!!
  • EnragedTortoise1 - June 16, 2010 8:51 p.m.

    I'm liking this. Especially the fact that you don't have to pay for what you already have. Will prob try the three month trial, perhaps the full version. What would be nice, though, is if you could buy cards a la XBL. Especially of they were discounted.
  • Camoxide - June 16, 2010 7:26 p.m.

    You didn't mention cross game chat?
  • cart00n - June 16, 2010 6:51 p.m.

    Uh, yeah... As a member of a multi-gamer household with one Xbox 360, I feel I should point out that no, Silver memberships DON'T have access to MS's weekly deals and discounts - that's a Gold exclusive. It may be different for folks in the UK, but not in US. The free games thing is a pretty awesome perk, tho'; if Sony's plan makes $, perhaps MS will consider something similar, freeing up multiplayer for Silver accounts. Of course, you all realize, that if Sony DOESN'T make $ on this endeavor, you WILL start being charged for multiplayer. Dedicated servers DO cost money to keep up and running, y'know...
  • ReasonableFanboy - June 16, 2010 6:30 p.m.

    Sony, this is downright dumb. You're now giving us the option to pay for what is essentially Xbox Live with still a few disadvantages, for the same price. That's why I didn't get an Xbox. The extra features just weren't worth the price. And now you ask us to pay the same for less? Sorry, but only the most unreasonable of fanboys will buy into this ploy. At least someone had the sense to keep it optional.
  • Doctalen - June 16, 2010 5:33 p.m.

    I liked the old PSN, basically getting the stuff Xbox live offers but for free. Now paying for rentals of games and paying for betas that normally are free seems kind of a rip off but I will wait and see.
  • vinicusg.t.guedes - June 16, 2010 4:58 p.m.

    @Kom Gran Turismo 5 Prologue simply won't launch if I'm not connected to PSN, but I can disconnect from it once I have launched the game. I belive the free games will work just the same way. Well, everything depends of the lineup of free games. I'm not interested in games that I have already bought, and paying to test stuff for the lazy developpers is a terrible concept (I've a lot of bad memmories from World of Warcraft "test realms"), you should only play a game once it's complete, so the experience doesn't get spoiled by bugs, unpolished levels, unbalanced gameplay, etc.
  • Fiirestorm21 - June 16, 2010 4:47 p.m.

    Good breakdown. I'm actually digging this, though I don't know quite yet if I personally will jump on board. It's a much more attractive take on subscription models than Xbox Live. The fact that it's not taking away from the existing free PSN model is also really cool.
  • GR_DavidHoughton - June 16, 2010 4:08 p.m.

    Right. Playing online will stay free. It's all completely optional.
  • CrazySkullz - June 16, 2010 4:07 p.m.

    It's set to launch on June 29, 2010.
  • Gameguy94 - June 16, 2010 3:58 p.m.

    So let me get this straight. The PSN I am playing right now is free, Playstation Plus is just for all that stuff mentioned above correct? No pay to play right?
  • ArcaneGhost - June 16, 2010 3:57 p.m.

    I think this is okay for people who want to buy it, but I couldn't be bothered. I always viewed PSN being characterized by the fact that you don't have to pay for the service. Anyways, doesn't hurt to try the trial, though.
  • kompressorlogik - June 16, 2010 3:52 p.m.

    My biggest beef with this is that the free full games are only available to play as long as you're still subscribed. I would imagine that it will check that by phoning home to the PSN to check that you're paid up whenever you want to fire one up. What happens if you have no network connection at the moment? If you let your subscription lapse, will the content sit, unavailable, on your system, silently taunting you? I would very much like these questions answered. Can GR do journalism for me? :D Overall, though, I'm definitely checking this out.
  • killerrpgfan - June 16, 2010 3:50 p.m.

    I can't really decide. Like you said i am going to try the 3 month trial... but i can't really decide. It would go against all of the trash talk i have said to the people who pay for gold on Xbox..... Can't decide. Well anyway WHEN DOES IT LAUNCH?

Showing 1-20 of 23 comments

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