PlayStation Plus subscribers in the US are getting free Borderlands 2 (opens in new tab) (available now) and free GRID 2 (opens in new tab) this month, according to CVG News (opens in new tab). 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 (opens in new tab), 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 (opens in new tab). 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?