The Playstation Plus Experiment

Owning both the big consoles as I do, I’m no stranger to the classic Xbox 360 vs PS3 argument. One of the individual battles in this long running war is to do with gaming online – the PS3 offers this for free, but on the 360 you’ll need to stump up £40 a year. Of course, the 360’s online system is undeniably better, but it is £40 a year more than the PS3’s far more wallet pleasing price of zero pence. The PS3 undoubtedly offers the best option for the more casual gamer, who might only play online once in a blue moon, though.

As you may have heard, though, now Sony are muddying the waters further by introducing Playstation Plus. They’re leaving online gaming as a free option for everyone, but adding an extra tier to their offerings, for, yep, £40 a year. But what do you get for this £40?

Rather than rehash the Sony press release, I thought it would be interesting to jump in feet first, and sign up for a year of Playstation Plus, then report back periodically on what I get out of it, and ultimately whether it is worth the cash. Obviously, for this I needed cash, so I raided the Ready Up piggy bank. All that was in there was 15 drachma and an old sixpence, so I’ve splashed out with my own money. Call it taking one for the team.

Playstation Plus promises a fair number of “free” games each month included in your subscription, but there is a catch. If you stop paying, you stop playing – the free games are deactivated. So, what do I get this month?

  • LittleBigPlanet – yes, the full game. This is an introductory offer, but best of all, it’s not linked to the Plus account, meaning I can keep it forever. Brilliant. All of the following games ARE linked to the account, though, meaning I can only play them while I am a member.
Wipeout HD
  • Wipeout HD – again, the full game. An £11.99 game that I pointed out in my review was well worth full price. Again, tremendous.
  • Destruction Derby – the PS1 game. Might be fun in a retro kind of way. (edit: It absolutely wasn’t fun. Hideous.)
  • Two PS Minis: Age of Zombies and Field Runners. I have no idea what these are like.
  • A map pack for Killzone 2 (fortunately not linked to the account so I can keep it forever)
  • Two Fat Princess avatars, and two dynamic themes for the XMB. One of them is a LittleBigPlanet theme, so it could be quite cool. I’m not, however, going to make my avatar into a Fat Princess – I got enough grief thanks to The Ballad of Gay Tony.

There is of course, one slight problem with all this. By far the best two pieces of content available this month, Wipeout HD and LittleBigPlanet, I already bought and paid for. Oh dear. Mind you, if you haven’t got these two then I’d say they are worth the £40 fee for the year right there.

Looking through the store I see that Plus also offers me a discount on some items, but it’s not a huge discount and there aren’t a huge number of items. An interesting touch is the ability to download full PSN games and play them for up to an hour completely unrestricted, at which point I can then choose to pay up to continue, or just walk away. Again, sadly this doesn’t appear to be available for all titles.

I'll hopefully not see this again for 12 months. And I won't miss it.

One last feature I am looking forward to: I can now schedule my PS3 to come on at 2am and download any and all updates for my games that become available, meaning I won’t turn on the machine for a quick game of anything only to have to sit through a 20 minute update. It’s a tremendous idea. In fact it’s such a good idea it seems a shame to restrict it to Plus members only.

Well, I’m off to try out all of my newly downloaded games, levels, themes and Minis, but I’ll be back again soon to report further on… The Playstation Plus Experiment!







3 responses to “The Playstation Plus Experiment”

  1. Kirsten avatar

    I’ll be stumping up for this one too Tony as I’m now running the Network section of PlayGamer magazine. It doesn’t sound very worth it so far though!

  2. Markatansky avatar

    I might give it a go myself too, even just for the free LBP.

  3. Mark avatar

    It’s tough to have an experience that’s both worth it to those who cough up, but doesn’t crap on the freebie users too much. Like gold exclusive demos and DLC, who thought that was a good idea. An idiot, that’s who. PSN plus seems quite good, but I think the early adopters – the hardcore PS faithful – are the sort of people to have already bough LBP. Knickers.

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