Is Playstation Plus The Future Today?
Just over two years ago Sony launched their Playstation Plus service to the millions of PS3 owners around the world – a paid for subscription service that gave enhanced features to online gaming. PS+ is an optional service and people who don’t have it are missing out on some true treasures of gaming. I have been a PS+ member since its launch and during that time I have downloaded numerous full games for free or at a discounted price. Is this the future of gaming?
Well… when I was preparing to write this article I drew up a list of positives and negatives about the service. I could only come up with two issues that people might see as negatives. The first was that it costs £39.99 (the same price as a game) and the second is that any games which you get for free will be deleted when your subscription ends. However this no different to other subscription based services such as Netflix and Love film. These points are quickly forgotten about when you realise just what is on offer through PS+ and what it means for you as a gamer.
It is the amount of services offered that really lets PS+ shine as a service and gives us a little glimpse of how things could be next generation. The stand-out feature of PS+ is the free games that are on offer; Sony announced at this year’s E3 that they were re-vamping the service so that ten free games would be available at any time. Since then PS+ subscribers have been able to download Little Big Planet 2, Infamous 2, Darksiders, Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown+ and recently Deus Ex: Human Revolution as part of this initiative.
Free games are to gamers what Ron Burgundy is to San Diego… a BIG deal. As the line up is changing monthly there is sure to be some big games that you haven’t played becoming available for you to have a go at. As well as free PS3 titles, PS+ often offers classic PS1 and PS2 games for free, access to 60 minute game trials, game discounts, early access demos and betas. The discounted games remain yours once you have ended your PS+ subscription, unlike the free downloads, so save yourself a few quid and download discounted games when you see something you like.
The next big feature that PS+ offers you is cloud storage for game saves. At the moment it stands at 150mb of storage which you can upload to automatically and access via any PS3 (if only this had existed 3 years ago before my last PS3 was hit by the yellow light of death). As well as cloud saves PS+ subscribers also have access to automatic uploads and downloads. This comes in handy and as a relief to those of us who have rushed home from work to play on a game only to find that there has been a software update and system update and sat waiting for 30 minutes or longer before being able to actually get on the game. With PS+ you can simply select a 2 hour time slot for your PS3 to turn its self on to upload and download data ready for you to play later.
With Sony’s recent $380 million buyout of Gaikai (an online gaming service to those of you who are unfamiliar with the name) it would appear that they are getting ready for going digital with their future game distribution. I see this and the recent re-vamp of PS+ as a way for Sony to start getting people used to the idea of paying for a subscription service for their gaming. We are already used to paying monthly subscriptions with our mobile phone contract so why can’t gaming be the same?
The Gaikai acquisition will also hopefully get rid of the backwards compatibility argument that seems to happen at the start of every console cycle. I know that not everyone is interested in this, but imagine turning on your next gen console or signing on to your PSN account on your PS Vita, PS4, Playstation Certified smart phone or iOS device and having access to classic PS 1, 2 and 3 games in an instant.
I for one am looking forward to see what the Gaikai take over will bring to the Playstation brand over the next year and if this will change the way PS+ and the rest of the PSN operates. The future of gaming is undoubtedly going to see an increase in cloud-based and subscription based services. With Sony testing the waters now with the successful PS+ service are they going to have a head start on Microsoft and Nintendo when the next gen of gaming finally arrives? Should PS+ really be called PS 3.5 as it currently is a midpoint between current gen and next gen? Hopefully this time next year we will know.