When Sony announced its Playstation Plus subscription service back in 2010, I was pretty sceptical from the word go. I just couldn't see why anybody would be prepared to pay a subscription equal to the cost of Xbox Live when the Playstation Network already offers online play for free as standard (for now at least). Because of all of these reasons, I wasn't too drawn to trying it out the service at first and haven't been until I decided to sign up the other day.
I can't stop writing posts about Playstation at the moment it seems (minus this post about Nintendo the other day in which I mentioned the Playstation a number of times - doh!), but oh well, my 360 is going to get plenty of love when The Witcher 2 comes out for it soon.
So anyway, here's why Sony snagged more of my money this month:
The reason I signed up to Playstation Plus is pretty much the same reason I sign up to any subscription; the promise of FREE STUFF NOW. The appeal of this one was simple - a game I really wanted to try out last year, Need for Speed: Shift 2: Unleashed (double colon!), was available free to PS Plus subscribers. So it's £19.99 to download without PS Plus, and free if I take out a 3 month subscription for £11.99? Even I can do the math there. Now, I haven't played NFS Shift 2 yet, so I'm not going to talk about the game itself, but more about how bloody impressed I am with the Playstation Plus service so far.
For what essentially feels like free (or even being eight quid up, although the age of the game means it's probably not gonna be £20 in shops) you get a whole host of extra free shit and further discounts, including PSN games, exclusive content (all cosmetic stuff like themes/avatars, but still, FREE!), plus the cloud saving feature and auto game patching. Everything on offer is far from essential, which I guess is a good thing in that nobody's losing out too much by not upgrading, but it does feel like exactly what the name implies - i.e. Playstation with extras. NFS Shift 2 is over a year old now so it's hardly something completely shiny and new, but if Sony keep offering up quality, slightly older games for free to me every month or so then I'll probably keep the subscription beyond my first three months just to give me an incentive to try them out all the games I had on my maybe pile on the pretence that they're special goodies.
Going back to the Xbox Live comparison, I finally now get Playstation Plus as a product. Xbox Live is pretty much an essential for a hardcore gamer, in that if you want to play online you have to have it. They even require it to use bloody Facebook, which is flat out ridiculous. In a way it's clever from Microsoft in that it's a steady revenue stream that will keep people using the console, even if only to extract maximum value from their subscription, but so far I like Playstation Plus better. It feels like you're getting a premium service that rewards you for subscribing to it, rather than inhibiting you if you don't.
Sony are far from perfect angels in terms of the relationships they hold with their customers (see here & here), but I'm all about giving credit where credit's due, and Sony do deserve it for the Playstation Plus service. If there was one negative observation I could make against it (and I'm a cynic, so there always is) it would be that the auto patching service, which downloads new game updates overnight for you, should be available to all users given what a pain in the arse updating games on the PS3 is. Still, I recommend anybody try Playstation Plus out... now let's hope NFS Shift 2 is worth more than the nothing I technically paid for it.