Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later…
During yesterday’s E3 conference, Sony confirmed multiple rumors of a new online subscription-based service, which, has now also been confirmed for a June 29th release date. The first point of concern to get right out of the way is that this new service will in no way impact the current free PlayStation accounts in any way. Multiplayer for all games will remain free-to-play. All users will still have free access to the PlayStation Store, PlayStation Home, demos, themes, and all of the other goodies they’ve already had access to. Great, so, what does this new service entail? I’m glad you asked.
As they described yesterday, Sony is promising that PlayStation Plus will give users early access to betas and demos as well as free PSN games every month, themes, avatars, and a full subscription to Qore, their monthly “high-definition, interactive gaming lifestyle show.” This service will also push automatic updates for demos, patches, and firmware updates. But, perhaps the most enticing draw are the one-hour game trials, which are basically one hour-long game demos that will give you the option to buy and download the rest of the game when the time limit expires. Does this mean we’ll be seeing more non-PSN-exclusive games will be coming to PSN similar to Xbox Live’s Games on Demand service?
One major question that came out of Sony’s announcement yesterday pertains to what happens to your content once you cancel your subscription, should you ever choose to do so. It wasn’t entirely clear, but they made it seem as if that content all goes away once you cancel, and, unfortunately, Sony now seems to have confirmed that to be true. In their blog post published today, Sony Senior Director of PlayStation Network Susan Panico added: “Additionally, subscribers will always have access to their virtual library of free games for as long as they keep their PlayStation Plus subscription.” I imagine this could be a huge deterrent to those who are considering subscribing. With Xbox Live, you don’t get free games, but, at least you get to keep them if you cancel. Seems like that might be a huge step back for Sony, right after making such a major leap forward.
PlayStation Plus will cost $49.99 for a 1-year subscription, and 17.99 for a 3-month subscription. For it’s first month of service, Sony is offering “the full PlayStation Network game, WipEout HD, full game trial of inFAMOUS, PSP minis and PS One Classics such as Fieldrunners, Age of Zombies and Rally Cross, as well as premium avatars, themes and DLC levels and map packs.” In addition, Sony is currently offering an extra three free months to early subscribers, lengthening your term to 15 months for $49.99.
I know it’s not exactly what most of us had hoped for. At one point, there were rumors that the service would include free access to all PlayStation 1 Classics, and another rumor spoke of the long-awaited cross-game chat, so, looks like neither of those are coming to fruition. But, it’s still a start, and the early access to betas and demos, along with the game trials sound good enough for me to at least want to give it a try. The as-long-as-you-keep-it part is a serious problem for me, but, no service will ever be perfect. It’s a problem I’m willing to live with.
At least, for now. Remember, this is just the beginning. Who knows what features Sony might add (or take away) in the future.