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Plus Points: Sony's PS Plus humiliates the game industry

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#1 +Audioboxer


    Hermit Arcana

  • Joined: 01-December 03
  • Location: UK, Scotland

Posted 29 January 2013 - 20:10

Sony has made a lot of mistakes over the years, and I've cheerily called the publisher out on many of them. For all its hubris, however, and for all its missteps, the PlayStation brand owner is prone to having some really quite brilliant ideas now and then, proving itself surprisingly savvy and innovative when the need arises.

Among these ideas, PlayStation Plus is undoubtedly one of its best, though I was cynical towards the idea of a subscription-based PlayStation Network service at first. Early propositions made it sound quite undesirable, and given Sony's other attempts at aping rival Microsoft -- Trophies spring to mind -- I expected something pointless and poorly implemented.

That's not what we got. Instead, PlayStation Plus is one of the most consumer-friendly, convenient, and worthwhile ideas to hit the PlayStation 3. More importantly, in an industry where publishers are trying to take more money than ever for less content, Sony's the guiding light in how to draw a steady payday from users in a way that makes everybody happy.

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PlayStation Plus is a subscription-based service that offers free games, major discounts, and exclusive downloads to customers for $49.99 a year. Every week, the service offers new freebies and cheap titles, giving away not just classic PlayStation games, but current-gen titles including big hitters like inFAMOUS and The Walking Dead.

In keeping its commitment to offering free online play, Sony had to work extra hard to ensure PS Plus was worth paying for, and the results can be measured in numbers. The company recently revealed Plus' discounts and giveaways amounted to a cumulative $2,472 in 2012. While it's unlikely a customer downloaded absolutely everything required to get these savings, it would be quite easy to at least make back the $50 entry fee in content.

It sounds almost ridiculous to say it, but Sony has been pioneering the practice of giving stuff away in exchange for consumer loyalty. Yes, it seems like a no-brainer tactic, but the idea seems to have eroded in so many areas of the industry that Sony's remarkable for doing it. You give Sony money, and Sony gives you stuff in return. It doesn't unlock stuff that was gated off, it doesn't provide what the competitor was already providing, it just gives you things. It's almost crazy to see that now, especially on consoles.

And yes, it's true that PS Plus doesn't let you keep the free content once you unsubscribe, but if you weren't getting your money's worth while still tied to it, then frankly, you have nothing worth missing. Even as a "rental" service, it's a killer deal, and the discounts are nothing to sniff at.

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Compare this to Microsoft, a company struggling more and more to justify its subscription service with a straight face. The Xbox 360 owner has systematically worked to hold its content to ransom in an increasingly futile bid to make Xbox Live Gold look worth its fee. The biggest feature is, of course, online play -- something available for free on PS3, Wii U, and PC. The company took something that was already a given, and held it back.

It's done this with practically every feature on Xbox Live Gold. Netflix, Amazon Video, and (before retirement) social apps like Twitter and Facebook all require Gold subscriptions to use, despite these items being freely available on almost every electronic device on the market. Hell, my television can access Netflix, Amazon, Twitter, Facebook, and a Web browser, and they're all better than the Xbox 360 versions -- they browse faster, they stream more consistently, and their search functions blow the 360's pathetic offerings out of the water.

This is the reality of Xbox Live Gold, a service I believe only continues to thrive due to the habitual nature of consumers, and one that I don't think can sustain itself indefinitely. Xbox Live Gold has never offered the consumers anything. It's never actually exchanged a feature outstanding enough to justify an outstanding payment. All it does is take away. Even demos are held hostage, given a delayed release for Xbox Live Silver users in a fantastic example of just how desperate Microsoft is to create the illusion of worth instead of providing actual value. Xbox Live Gold is all smoke and mirrors -- a delayed feature here, a withheld app there, a carefully constructed facade. So carefully constructed, in fact, it may have been less effort to actually give consumers something.

Oh, and let's not even get started on the ads Xbox Live run on its paid service.

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There's a strong sentiment in the games industry that the consumer should be the load-bearer for a publisher's problems. Game budgets running out of control? Charge $60, regardless of quality, and take content out to sell as "downloadable" content later. Piracy is a perceived problem? Shovel in a load of DRM as a placebo, which only really has the affect of controlling those consumers who already paid you fair and square. Used games a potential threat? Lock online play in a cage and make used gamers pay a direct fee, while those who bought it new waste time inputting a code to show their fealty.

Sony's not above some of those practices itself, of course, but at least when it comes to PS Plus, the company truly did its loyalest consumers a solid.

It's disgraceful that Sony's PS Plus philosophy is such an anomaly in the videogame industry, that choosing to reward, rather than punish, the customer is downright unique in contrast to Sony's closest rivals. The idea that a subscription service legitimately exchange content for cash should not be something so extraordinary as to be praised, but that's the situation we're in. PlayStation Plus really shouldn't be considered excellent, it shouldn't be applauded for going above and beyond. It is though, and while that's a damning indictment on the rest of the industry, it certainly makes Sony the good guy -- in relative terms, if nothing else.

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I love PlayStation Plus. I fully admit I thought it'd work out terribly, and thrilled to say I was wrong. PS Plus stands as a shining example of how you deliver a compelling, rewarding videogame service, and exposes the competition as nothing more than a glorified seller of snake oil.

Now ... if it can get the PlayStation Vita Plus services kicking as much ass as the PS3 one, I'll be doubly impressed.

Read more at http://www.destructo...eH3gkblUcPhe.99

Source: http://www.destructo...iX4XcgRv4DZr.99

#2 shakey


    It's soooooo Educational

  • Joined: 31-March 04
  • Location: Austin, Tx

Posted 29 January 2013 - 20:23

It really is a amazing service with no other service like it out there. The options through the years have only gone up. It started off weak, but now we are getting really good titles for "free". Not to mention the discounts on other games.

#3 TheLegendOfMart


    Neowinian Senior

  • Joined: 01-October 01
  • Location: England

Posted 29 January 2013 - 20:24

I just subscribed for another year, my sub was due up in Feb. It's a no brainer.

Even if I don't intend on playing them right away I always "buy" the games on demand stuff because it means I can download them again later once the games have disappeared from PS+ freebie list every month.

That's even before you get to the 10%+ discounts on games.

Unless Sony goes pay to play for PS4 I think Microsoft is going to find it increasingly difficult to justify their Gold service for Durango.

#4 Flae_qui


    Your Friendly Neighborhood IT Technician

  • Joined: 19-March 03
  • Location: Maryland, USA

Posted 29 January 2013 - 20:30

been on PS+ since day 1 love it, so much FREE stuff BIG titles, indie, or just small stuff. i have over 100 games on my HD alone

#5 mattmatik


    formerly soLoredd

  • Joined: 25-November 03
  • Location: California

Posted 29 January 2013 - 20:35

Yup, my PS+ has definitely made me a happy camper. Never felt that way when I was paying for LIVE.

#6 Javik



  • Tech Issues Solved: 3
  • Joined: 21-May 12

Posted 29 January 2013 - 20:36

Seems like they're offering a great deal. I've never really been impressed with Xbox live I feel it's pretty poor value. Not that I'll be leaving PC gaming any time soon but credit to sony for trying to offer a better service.

#7 jerzdawg



  • Tech Issues Solved: 1
  • Joined: 09-October 02
  • Location: new jersey

Posted 29 January 2013 - 20:43

This reminded me that my gold membership was about to expire.. good thing amazon has it for $35 today!! j/k

While not a Ps+ member I read the threads enough to know that the "free" game variety is broad enough to eventually offer something for everyone. If I could justify the purchase (I dont use my PS3 at all anymore) I would certainly be a ps+ member just for the chance to try out so many games.

#8 +jamesyfx


    Neowinian Senior

  • Tech Issues Solved: 1
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  • Location: Manchester, UK
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  • Phone: Nexus 5

Posted 29 January 2013 - 20:46

I don't pay for Xbox Live Gold but I pay for PS+. The irony being that I don't need to really pay anything to maximise my use of my PS3. It's just the offers and added value you get are too good to miss.

#9 +NeoTrunks



  • Joined: 19-September 01

Posted 29 January 2013 - 20:51

PS+ is great. I've been a member since the beginning as well. I have to delete stuff off of my 500GB hard drive to make room for new stuff. And while I don't have one, when I do get a PS Vita, I'll already have quite a few games that I can load up without paying any extra.

#10 shakey


    It's soooooo Educational

  • Joined: 31-March 04
  • Location: Austin, Tx

Posted 29 January 2013 - 22:01

I've noticed that while the game selection has increased, the themes have not.... And I really enjoyed the new themes we would get. Now it seems like no new themes have been added in about 6 months. But I always looked forward to a new look on my ps3 each month.

#11 American Ninja

American Ninja

    Don't Tread on Me!!!!

  • Joined: 05-November 02
  • OS: Windows 8.1
  • Phone: Apple iPhone 5 32GB

Posted 30 January 2013 - 15:37

Really good article.

#12 Jason S.

Jason S.

    Neowinian Senior

  • Tech Issues Solved: 6
  • Joined: 01-September 03
  • Location: Cleveland, Ohio

Posted 30 January 2013 - 16:00

i never thought i'd like PS+ but ive had it for 2 years now. i love it. i dont download every free game or even buy games all that often, but every now and again something will be free or very cheap that interests me. Also, having PS+ carry over to the Vita was amazing. i downloaded 3 of the initial 'free' games.

#13 Blackhearted



  • Joined: 26-February 04
  • Location: Ohio
  • Phone: Samsung Galaxy S2 (VM)

Posted 30 January 2013 - 16:08

I don't use PS+ since i don't own a ps3(for now) but i totally agree with what they say about XBL. It's pretty bad.

#14 Colin McGregor

Colin McGregor

    Neowinian Senior

  • Joined: 02-September 11
  • Location: Ontario, Canada
  • OS: Windows 8 x64, Gentoo x64 Sometimes
  • Phone: Samsung Ativ S WP8

Posted 30 January 2013 - 16:53

I subbed for PS+, but unsubbed because they kept giving me free games that I already beat long ago and long forgot about.

Having used both PSN And XBL there's no way you can with a straight face say PSN is better, you get what you pay for and that shows in the live gold service. Plus I work so $4 a month is nothing even if I don't play for a while.

#15 Aheer.R.S.


    I cannot Teach Him, the Boy has no Patience!

  • Tech Issues Solved: 14
  • Joined: 15-October 10
  • Location: Wolverhampton, West Midlands

Posted 30 January 2013 - 17:06

Though I don't have it, there are many features I've been told about it that I do like, cloud game saves etc... I especially like and wished I had that when my first (I don't know how old it is, I boought it as a Killzone 2 bundle) ps3 died last month. Oh well, live and leearn.
But I am thinking of getting it even if just as an insurance policy for my saves. (Not to mention syncing across multiple consoles etc...)