Posted on Aug 25th 2019 at 08:00:00 AM by (GrayGhost81)
Posted under psplus, sony

Sony's PlayStation Plus service was launched in 2010 as a paid online service mainly for the PlayStation 3. As a further incentive to sign up for the service to play games online, Sony began offering a series of games each month for the PlayStation 3 and PSP, eventually adding the Vita and PS4. PSP games were eventually dropped and to me the heyday of PS+ were the few years where we were getting PS3, PS4, and Vita games every month. Any games claimed while subscribing to this service can be re-downloaded on any console that is signed into that account as long as the account is current. In the current world of the "all digital future," it is important to note that your PlayStation Plus games are being "rented" in a sense that you will only have access to them while your account is active.

In March 2019, Sony dropped PlayStation Plus games for the Vita and PS3, much to the chagrin of many subscribers, including myself. Currently the service offers only two PS4 games per month. At an annual cost of about sixty U.S. dollars, a case can certainly be made that this is a good value. However, I am finding that the value has diminished to the point where if I do decide to renew my subscription, it will almost solely be to retain access to the almost eight hundred titles I have accumulated in my download queue over the years. Walking away from the service means walking away from access to all those titles.

It is instructive to compare PlayStation  Plus with their main competitor's service. Microsoft's XBOX Live Gold service has been offering monthly games on their XBOX platforms in a similar way to PlayStation Plus, but there is a significant difference. If your membership lapses, you can still "keep" the games you acquired during your membership. Further, earlier in 2019 Microsoft merged their XBOX Live Gold service with their Game Pass service in the creation of a new service they call Game Pass Ultimate. Game Pass is a subscription service which gives members access to a decent list of games to download and play freely as long as they are subscribers. Rather than opening access to only two games a month, you have access to the entire list right from the start. Currently, as a Game Pass Ultimate subscriber, I have access to the monthly selection of games offered for XBOX Live Gold as well as all Game Pass titles on my XBOX One and PC.

A meme from the good old days

What Microsoft is offering is a better value than PlayStation Plus. Let's look at Sony's streaming service, PlayStation  Now. From what I can tell, PlayStation Now is similar to Game Pass in that a library of games are available from the get go and some of them are available for download. I am not a PlayStation Now subscriber but if Sony merged PlayStation  Plus with PlayStation  Now in the same way Microsoft merged Game Pass with XBOX Live Gold, I think it would be a massive success and would do much to assuage the ill-will harbored by longtime PlayStation Plus subscribers such as myself. As it stands, I am keeping my PlayStation Plus subscription alive for the sole reason that my download queue is basically being held hostage.

I hope it is clear to Sony that they need to follow Microsoft's lead in order to remain competitive as far as the value of their online subscription services. As I wrestle with the idea of paying to continue digitally "renting" games I've had in a download list for years, I find myself wishing Sony would discontinue PlayStation Plus and merge it with PlayStation Now. What do you think? Are you subscribed to any online console services? If so, do the games on offer have any influence on your decision to subscribe, or do you do it just to play online?

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I didn't realize you could still play Microsoft's downloaded Gold games even when you weren't subscribed to the service. That's actually pretty awesome. As someone who has never subscribed to either service I can definitely see why you feel the current Microsoft offering is superior and why you feel let down by Sony's decision to drop support for its older systems.

I do disagree with your statement that Sony "need[s] to follow Microsoft" though. Their sales lead, in every single generation, and their recent digital sales milestone both indicate that they are not just fine with the current model, but thriving. Yeah it sucks when the better product isn't doing as hot as the lesser, but Sony has no pressure on it to improve as it now stands. Even Nintendo who has the defacto "worst" (and only service I've subscribed to, lol) has stated how happy they are with the amount of subscribers.

As much praise as Game Pass keeps getting across the spectrum I'm not sure how much actual pressure it's putting on any competition currently. Maybe it will when the next gen starts, but as is it seems like its making a big impact on consumers and just a blip on competitors.
I've had Xbox Live since it started, and with the recent $1 deal, I now have Game Pass Ultimate until 2021. If I did't get that amazing $1 deal though, I would have just stuck with the standard Live. I don't make heavy use of the "free" games that come with the service, but I have enjoyed the selection of Game Pass titles more. With the backward compat on Xbox, they can offer a pretty big selection of titles at any time. Also, the large selection means I can quickly sample a game and drop it if it doesn't interest me. They will have to bring the price down if they want to keep me after my deal expires.

I had PS+ for a few years so I could use multiplayer on PS4, but I let it lapse around a year ago. I'll probably grab another year of it when Nioh 2 hits, but otherwise it doesn't particularly interest me.

Isn't PS Now is a streaming service like Stadia? That's quite a bit different than Game Pass in approach, but if it works well I get it. I don't see them being in a hurry to bundle it unless they lose a bit of marketshare in the next gen.
Good article, Shawn. This dovetails nicely with the article I wrote a while back about the Stadia announcement, and my insistence (and that of many on this site) of owning physical games, as opposed to going strictly digital. Even with day one patches and critical bugs out of the gate, most of us would rather have access to those games later on, bugs and all, than not. I appreciate what services like Game Pass and PS+ try to offer, and it does add value for many customers, but not being an online player means I'm not getting the value in the same way. I don't know that Sony is as ready to embrace the all digital future like Microsoft is, with a disc-less console, and an "all in" approach to an always online, all-download kind of configuration. That may be part of why their service isn't quite as robust as Microsoft's offering.
@Crabmaster2000: Good point that Sony could carve their own niche rather than just aping Microsoft as I suggested.

@Duke.Togo: PSNow is streaming but *some* of the games can be downloaded, apparently.

@MetalFRO: Good call out on the disc-less Xbox, I totally wasn't even thinking about that.

Thanks for reading and thank you for the feedback, guys! 
Unfortunately itís only half true that you get to keep Xboxís free Games with Gold games. Any Xbox 360 or Original Xbox games that are "purchased" for free during the ~15 days they are available for can be kept and played even if the paid Gold subscription lapses. Xbox One games however, require a paid Gold subscription in good standing to download or play those games.

The good thing is that Xbox 360 or Original Xbox games are still being released twice a month and moving forward are guaranteed to be compatible with the Xbox One. For Xbox One games though, itís the same as PS Plus.

Unfortunately Xbox is moving towards the PS Plus model. Not the other way around.
@gecko007: I really appreciate that clarification. I was literally going of how it was before the XBONE was even a twinkle in Microsoft's eye.

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