Sony's premium PlayStation Network service launches tomorrow. For $69.95 per year, you get access to a selection of games, demos, themes, discounts and other downloadables. Do you think it's worth it? I don't.
PlayStation Plus is a new tier that sits above the existing PlayStation Network. Current PSN members will continue to get everything they currently get for free, including online gameplay. However, PlayStation Plus subscribers get more stuff on top of that for the duration of their subscription.
When it launches on June 29, you can purchase a yearly subscription for $69.95 or a 90-day subscription for $20.95.
According to the EU PlayStation Blog, you get:
Month 1: June 29 – August 3
* Intro offer: LittleBigPlanet (standard edition) * PSN PS3: Wipeout HD * minis: Field Runners, Age of Zombies * PSone: Destruction Derby * Full Game Trial: Shatter, Savage Moon * Discounts: LittleBigPlanet God of War Pack – 50%, LittleBigPlanet: LocoRoco costume pack – 50%, Gravity Crash – 20%, Fat Princess DLC – 20% * Premium Game Element: KillZone 2: Steel & Titanium DLC * Push Demo: ModNation Racers, Heavy Rain * Themes: LBP Theme, SCEE produced: PlayStation “Game Is Just The Start” Dynamic Theme * 2 x Fat Princess Premium Avatars
Month 2: August 4 – September 1
* PSN PS3: Zen Pinball * minis: Blast-Off, Alien Zombie Death * PSone: Medievil * Full Game Trial: Inferno Pool, Mushroom Wars * Discounts: Zen Pinball Earth Defence Table – 20%, Warhawk Triple Combo Pack – 50%, Super Stardust HD - 20%, WipeOutHD Fury – 20% * Premium Game Elements: Motorstorm Pacific Rift: Adrenaline Pack * Push Demo: Flower, Pixel Junk Shooter * Themes: SCEE produced: PlayStation + Dynamic Theme (in production), Heavy Rain Crime Scene Theme * 2 x Heavy Rain Avatars (Bird and Butterfly)
Sony is promising one PS3 game, two minis and one PSone game each month. Which is around $15-25 value every month, assuming you have interest in the monthly selections. It appears Sony will not be offering a choice of titles here.
The "full game trial" sees you download an entire game (the first few are all quite small, thankfully) and play for an hour before deciding whether or not to purchase it. Think of it as a full-featured but time-limited demo.
Sony is also promising "early access" to beta tests and demos, an unsavoury practice we've been experiencing for some time now on Xbox Live where Gold members occasionally get a headstart on demos. Hopefully this won't turn into basically charging PSN users for game demos.
And, yeah, you get a couple of themes and avatars.
For the first month there's an introductory offer to download the full version of LittleBigPlanet. You will be able to keep this once your subscription expires.
Perhaps the most important information is this: All
content games other than the LBP introductory offer, however, are only accessible while your subscription is valid. Let it expire and you won't be able to play those downloadable games or use that theme or avatar.
Keep paying your $69.95 per year and you'll be able to keep playing your "free" games. Stop paying for your "free" games and you won't be able to play them.
Personally, I'm not convinced. I already own LittleBigPlanet and the couple of downloadable games that interest me in the first two months of offers. And I don't care for the DLC. There's nothing here that's of value to me.
That's the problem when you're not charging people for a complete and consistent service.
Xbox Live is the same every month. Gold members know what they're paying for: a superior online gaming and social community. When Xbox Live changes, it changes for everyone. And it retains its value from month to month.
PlayStation Plus is different every month. As I said, there's no value in it for me over the first two months. Maybe in September I'll want all the downloadable games and that 90-day subscription will seem like a good deal. Or maybe September won't have anything of interest either.
When I pay for Xbox Live today, I can rely on it being just as good in 12 months' time. I can't rely on PlayStation Plus being worth my while from month to month, let alone for 12 months. I'm essentially speculating that Sony will deliver over $70 worth of content I want to play over that time. I'd rather know what I'm paying for.
Sorry, Sony, but no thank you.