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It's going to be a tough few months for PS Plus on PS4

PlayStation Plus subscribers in the US are getting free Borderlands 2 (available now) and free GRID 2 this month, according to CVG News. That's awesome. Borderlands 2 is amazing (I personally sunk over 100 hours into it and would still go back for more) and GRID 2... well, it's OK. Not incredible, but it's a quality product and was only out this spring. Still, that makes two big-name games, plus plenty more besides. By comparison, PS4 is getting... a 20% discount on Trine 2. And 10% off Super Motherload. That's not quite as awesome, is it?

But surely there is a bit of an impass here. All of the ‘big’ PS4 games are full-price retail games. And we’re talking a pretty massive ‘full price’ at around £50/$60. Surely the RRP is too high to allow Sony to give any of its current boxed titles away for free. Not yet. The idea of PlayStation Plus’ Instant Games Collection is that good games (supposedly with a Metacritic score of 70 or above, though Sony broke that immediately with the inclusion of Malicious) can be given away on the service after they’ve fulfilled their initial sales expectations.

Now, I'm not knocking the existing PS4 Instant Game Collection titles, Contrast and Resogun. Ah, Resogun. Quite possibly the finest ‘free’ launch game ever. It’s the perfect showcase game that takes full advantage of PS4’s graphical prowess, features high-score gameplay perfectly suited to the new 'Share' button and even the new DualShock 4’s speaker gets a workout. But it is just one great game and Contrast, clever though it is, doesn't have the same impact.

That's because it's only filling in for Driveclub, which was originally intended to be a launch game. It was delayed until early 2014,which simultaneously scuppered its cut-down PS Plus version, which was supposed to be free to subscribers from launch. A real shame. After all, cut-down, PS Plus-centric versions of games are surely the best thing for PS4’s Instant Game Collection right now. After all, how long will it be before early adopters feel happy to see such big purchases available for as-good-as-free on PS Plus? Three months? Six months?

Take PS Vita’s Instant Game Collection as an example. Sure, it kicked off with one of its launch’s biggest games, Uncharted: Golden Abyss, but Vita only got its share of the service after 6 months sitting in stores. After six months, it wasn’t so hard to see a full-price launch game given away for (essentially) free. Would you feel so happy to see Killzone: Shadow Fall or Battlefield 4 given away for free in February? I wouldn’t.

Sadly for all concerned, the game most logically heading to PS Plus first from the initial line-up of full-price games is Knack. Its 5/10 mediocrity makes it ripe for giving away free… at least it will after every sucker unfortunate enough to to have dropped £50+ on it has done so. There are 'solid rumours' (if such a thing exists) that Don't Starve (pictured below) and The Binding of Isaac are coming to PS Plus in January, but again, they're not full-price games.

I’d also wager the likes of Flow and Flower will make the jump to the Instant Game Collection soon. They’re already free on PS4 if you own the PS3 versions, so in another few months, it makes sense that these last-gen games become free on the new machine. But in terms of full-price titles, surely subscribers deserve better than the possibility/likelihood of free Knack for early next year. It'll take a BIG behind-the-scenes deal to get a big-hitter like Battlefield, FIFA or Need For Speed on the service. But it looks being a very quiet few months until something like that happens.

Yes, we have Resogun. But is that enough?

9 comments

  • sternparez - December 14, 2013 9:16 a.m.

    Resogun is worth a years subscription! Probably my 3rd favourite game this after The Last of Us and GTA.
  • FeloniousMax - December 12, 2013 1:11 p.m.

    Pretty sure Knack will be offered sooner rather than later. For the record, it's a good game, not great, but definitely under rated. As for BC, think we all need to wait and see what happens with Gaikai, the original intent was to use it for BC streaming, hopefully that is still on the table.
  • GOD - December 12, 2013 1:08 a.m.

    Eh, it was to be expected. Although what you said about the quality of the games put our for free.... I actually quite enjoyed Malicious and it looks and feels pretty great. My only issues were that there's only 5 levels (which mainly consist of going into a boss arena and farming enemies to power your attacks to fight the boss and then each boss gets you a knew power) and that I can't manage to beat the "last" boss. I say "last" boss because you can actually attempt the levels in any order you want, you could hypothetically go for the hardest boss right off the bat. The 4 levels that I was able to beat though I quite enjoyed and the way it controls and plays felt really good to me. I honestly wish it had some kind of sequel that used the same gameplay just for a longer game.
  • ChadSexington - December 11, 2013 6:15 p.m.

    I could see AC IV hitting in late spring early summer to gear up for the inevitable AC V that will swing in around October/November. Ubisoft (who seems to really like PS+) did something similar for ACIII. My guess is that will be the first full release, if Knack doesnt come in first. I highly doubt Shadowfall will appear and BF wont appear until after they release their "Premium Edition" in the fall.
  • garnsr - December 11, 2013 8:21 a.m.

    It makes sense not to have free games for a while, but PS Plus should absolutely get you cheaper digital versions of disc games (which should be cheaper than their disc-based counterparts anyway.)
  • bigmac515 - December 11, 2013 7:56 a.m.

    A happy compromise would be free or heavily discounted dlc for popular games such as Ghosts or Battlefield... Sure people who already bought them will complain but the same would be true for anything they give away or discount... Why not give away more credits in Warframe or in Blacklight Retribution to help boost those free games that anyone can download?
  • Ben_Tyrer - December 11, 2013 6:51 a.m.

    A workable comprise for the first few months of PS+ on PS4 could be seeing single player only versions of games, which Sony did with Uncharted 3 if I remember correctly, but with the full game at a 30-50% discount for subscribers. It could be a win-win for all parties. Gamers get a fair amount of free content, but if they want the multiplayer they would have to upgrade, which generates sales for launch titles that might have just sunk without a trace come March/April next year.
  • rainn'sgaydar - December 11, 2013 6:20 a.m.

    I expected PS4 PS+ titles to be slacking for a while. As you said, we just can't expect that $60 games will come free just a few months after release. In most cases, PS3 free games are usually at least a year old. I'm mildly concerned that the PS4 IGC may never reach the heights of what is offered on PS3. If only because it will take so long to build the library needed to offer something at that level. And Sony may change their minds about Plus by the time they could legitimately offer the kind of value seen on PS3. Though, as far as I can tell (which isn't far), it seems that Sony loves Plus and certainly seems to enjoy the good press it gets. But that is still a concern that creeps around on the back of my mind.
  • rxb - December 11, 2013 6:09 a.m.

    Also if gamers think there is a possibility of 'free' games a few months down the line it could damage launch sales. It already happens now with the heavy discounts 5 - 7 scored games receive, gamers wait and say 'I'm not paying full price for that'. Sony should have had more games ready.

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