#12: Playstation Plus
Hello, dear reader. I’m writing this just moments after finishing my weekly stream on twitch with hairy game-chum Chris Slight (http://www.twitch.tv/twomorewhiteguys/) . Once again, we’ve been streaming from my PS4, as we find it the easiest and most reliable solution. Every time we’ve tried with the Xbox One we’ve had issues with sound or buffering so we pretty much exclusively stream PS4 games now. As we mostly just use the streams as an excuse to chat with our small, but loyal and delightfully friendly viewer base (and to warm up for the other stuff we do for TV) we tend to choose games that can be played without too much concentration, and with minimal exposition before you get to the ‘good stuff’. As a result, in the past few months we’ve regularly dipped into the monthly free games offered by Playstation Plus.
For those who don’t know, Playstation Plus is a monthly subscription service that allows you to play online with friends, stream gameplay and other stuff like that. You also receive several free games each month for PS3, PS Vita, and PS4 and, as we played Stealth Inc 2 tonight, for free, it occurred to me what incredible value this service offers.
Before we go any further, I should acknowledge that this is starting to sound like I’m doing some sort of weird product placement thing. I’m not. Sony hasn’t asked me to say this. They’ve certainly not offered me money. Although, if they want to, I’m open to cash offers for anything up to, and including, petty theft. AHAHAHAHAHAHA BUT SERIOUSLY: I’m just praising PS Plus because it’s REALLY good.
In the last 3 months, on the PS4 alone, I’ve been given all the following games, free to play for as long as I remain a subscriber:
- Ether One
- Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition
- The Unfinished Swan
- Race the Sun
- Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
- Skulls of the Shogun: Bone-A-Fide Edition
- Super Exploding Zoo
- Futuridium EP Deluxe
- Rocket League
- Styx: Master of Shadows
- Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris
- Stealth Inc 2: A Game of Clones
- Sound Shapes
That’s a really strong list – everything from AAA games to indie adventures, from older titles to brand new releases. A quick glance at howlongtobeat.com tells me that just to play through the main elements of each game would easily take 90 hours, with potentially double that when you factor in additional side missions, online multiplayer and so on. Also, if you choose the cheapest subscription option, it’ll cost you less than £3.50 a month, with all the other features mentioned above included too.
In the interests of balance I should say that, of course, it’s unlikely anyone would want to play ALL of these games, either because of personal preferences or some of them perhaps not being the BEST GAME EVER. Also, again for balance, the Xbox One offers a similar service, but if you can find anyone who can convince me that its anywhere near as comprehensive or appealing as the Playstation setup, I’ll happily eat my hat.* However, whilst it seems like a great deal for the consumer, and for Playstation who are taking all that lovely money, it might not be quite such a good deal on the other (third?) side of the fence.
It’s hard to get specifics on the deals done with developers, and no doubt it varies from title to title, but we can safely assume that most are remunerated to a level they deem ‘worth it’ in exchange for adding their game into the mix. However, it’s possible that there’s a longer-term issue at play here for titles that don’t choose the ‘free on PS plus for launch month’ approach – increasingly we hear of people seeing new indie games on the store and saying ‘I’ll wait until its free’ – the assumption being that, 6 months down the line, when its revenue stream is drying up, it’ll pop up for free on the subscription service, presumably in exchange for a bit more cash (or some secondary promotional/brand recognition benefits). If this becomes embedded in gaming culture, we risk suffocating newer titles at birth, a tragedy given the boom we’ve seen in the indie scene in recent years.
Only time will tell but, for now, if you’re trying to convince your parents to buy you a PS4, show them this article and explain why you’re basically saving money. And then, when you’ve got one, with PS plus, buy loads of other games anyway. Because that’s what always actually happens, in the end.
But still, free games!
* I don’t own a hat. **
** And even if I did, I wouldn’t eat it.