PlayStation Plus: a service worth emulating?

A press release this morning announcing that free downloadable copies of Batman Arkham CityLimbo and Vanquish will be available to PlayStation Plus subscribers from December 5 is another compelling argument for PlayStation 3 owners to sign up.

It’s also a strong stance that Sony sees the PlayStation brand as a games player first and foremost. And with the PlayStation Plus service now available to PS Vita owners (who will be able to download Mortal Kombat and Kyhtt Underground for their handheld device from mid-December), Sony is sending a signal to its rivals that it values its user base.

A PlayStation Plus subscription will cost $89.95 for a year (or $24.95 for a 90-day subscription), which gives PS3 owners access to a library of 14 free games, and as many as five new games a month.

Last month, I downloaded Just Cause 2 to add to my instant game collection, and other games that have been offered in the past few months have included Borderlands, Bulletstorm and Resident Evil Gold Collection. Add in 1Gb of cloud storage for both PS3 and Vita, and PlayStation Plus seems like a damn good deal for PlayStation 3 owners, given that a single AAA titles cost more than a yearly subscription.

If there is any catch to PlayStation Plus it’s that the games only remain in your collection for as long as you’re a member of the service and once a game has gone from the service, it’s gone. If you stop subscribing you won’t be able to play those games anymore (but re-join at a later date and they become replayable). If you’re a died-in-wool PlayStation owner, thought, it seems remarkable value.

Dave Hine, the head of PlayStation in New Zealand, told me earlier this year that Sony saw PlayStation Plus as giving gamers ”an opportunity to get an invaluable amount of value in the instant game collection” and that for the $90 annual subscription fee, PS3 owners got 30 times the value of their membership cost if they took advantage of the game collection scheme.

Frankly, a PlayStation Plus-style service is the sort of thing Microsoft needs to look at offering its Xbox 360 owners, especially Gold members who pay around $80 for a yearly subscription. The main benefit for Xbox Live Gold subscribers over their Silver membership counterparts is that they can play games online: Silver members can’t do that.

I have a Gold Xbox Live subscription but to be honest, I don’t do a great deal of online gaming so pretty much it’s $80 wasted, but if Microsoft offered free game downloads for that price and for the duration of my subscription, it would become a more attractive proposition for me. It would prove an incentive for me to remain a Gold member.

So, who else has tried out Sony’s PlayStation Plus service and what are your thoughts? Would you be keen to see other hardware makers, such as Microsoft, offer a similar type service for their hardware?

1 thought on “PlayStation Plus: a service worth emulating?

  1. I’ve been a Playstation Plus subscriber since October, and I love it. I’m currently working my way through Borderlands and Crysis 2, thanks to the Instant Game Collection. Its also great how having the one PS+ subscription covers both my PS3 and Vita.

    I also have it on pretty good authority that the big fella is leaving me an Xbox 360 under the tree this year. As such, I’ve been investigating the XBox Live options. It really grates on me that for $90 in the MS world all I essentially get is the ability to play games online. I guess I’ve been spoilt by Playstation offering that for free. I’d love to see MS move online gaming down into the Silver tier and/or increase the value proposition of the Gold tier to be similar to what PS+ offers its subscribers.

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