Is Playstation Plus just a little too good?

December 17, 2012, Author: James Sheppard

What a ridiculous title. Editorials are the perfect vehicle for complaining about bad situations and the consumer being ripped off, and here I am moaning about something being too… good? What’s my problem?

Well, after recently signing up to Playstation Plus for the first time in a while for the paltry sum of £7.99 for three months, I’ve come to the realisation that the value on offer is extraordinary. Perhaps a little too extraordinary.

Maybe it’s seeing Sony’s lack of generosity elsewhere that has left me so surprised. Whereas Xbox Live has some cracking discounts and the Steam sales regularly leave my wallet emptied and my hard drive full of dirt-cheap PC games, Sony’s Playstation Store sales are pathetic. Touting inflated RRPs to try and exaggerate the stingy ‘discounts’ on their downloadable retail games isn’t fooling anyone, particularly when a hard copy can be bought cheaper elsewhere every time, without fail.

Yet here I am, paying well under a tenner for the chance to spend three months playing LittleBigPlanet 2, Batman: Arkham City, Bulletstorm, Vanquish, Crysis 2, inFamous 2 and more. All games that I’ve wanted for a while, just hadn’t got round to buying yet. Perhaps I’m just lucky. A lot of people have probably owned these titles for a while now and so Plus is of no value to them.

A kick-ass game, and now one less entry on my Christmas list.

Though there are even titles available for the Vita. This is a console I’ve been eyeing up since its release, but have decided to get at a later date when the price has lowered and the library has expanded. Well, ready for that time I’ve already claimed Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Gravity Rush, two of the best games currently on the system. All I need to do is keep subscribing or resubscribe at that time if I’ve let my membership lapse.

I almost feel sorry for Sony, because I’ve paid a very low price to play games that I was going to buy anyway at some point. Heck, I almost feel guilty about the situation. I haven’t even seen everything this three-month period has to offer yet, so there are still some goodies in store for me.

This leaves me wondering how much profit Sony are making here if you take a look at the bigger picture, with subscription revenue vs. lost purchases. I also haven’t touched on the other benefits of Plus, such as full-game trials, automatic sync and Store discounts. At least two of these features are actually helping to encourage further sales, rather than just letting leeches like me suck up loads of gaming goodness for (almost) free.

Yes, at the end of the day the service is a glorified rental service, admittedly. If I stop paying I lose access (although I can at least reclaim my games again when I resubscribe). Though compare the Playstation Network to Xbox Live. I’ve been an Xbox Live member for eight years, and a Gold subscriber for an overwhelming majority of that time, at £40 a year, just for the privilege of playing online. For £40 a year here you can play online for free and receive handfuls of great games to play over that period. There’s no comparison.