PS Plus used to be an essential part of owning a PlayStation. I needed it to play online multiplayer games with friends, I made sure to claim the free games each month, and picked up loads of bonus content and discounts. PlayStation Plus was an integral part of the PlayStation ecosystem for me.
But, recently, I’ve been finding less and less value in what was once an indispensable subscription service. The free games I once waited patiently to redeem each month are often disappointing and the bonus content is largely unused, there are some months I flat out forget to claim the freebies on offer. The online multiplayer remains the only real draw.
While this disenchantment could be down to a slump in the free games on offer – they’re the primary draw for me – the truth is it’s hard to ignore Xbox Game Pass. Microsoft’s subscription service appears to pack in much more than PS Plus for roughly the same price.
A jaded fan
(Image credit: Future)
I’ve had PS Plus for about eight years now, having picked up my first subscription when I got a PS4. Back then, the service was vital, particularly as a student when I was eating noodles and vending machine snacks to get by. I couldn’t afford new games, so Sony’s monthly PS Plus offering allowed me to play something and to expand my horizons beyond the open-world RPGs I mostly sought out.
Fast forward to today and I’m fortunate enough to have a PlayStation 5, but the service that once felt like a necessity has grown stale. I redeem the PS Plus games (when I remember) simply because they’re there – but never play them – and otherwise use my subscription to play online games occasionally with friends. Though, at times, I can go weeks without using that either given the single-player nature of many of Sony’s first-party offerings.
Even PS Plus’ arguably biggest draw, the PS Plus Collection, holds little value for a long-term player like myself. Sure, it’s fantastic for someone who’s just bought a PS5 and hasn’t owned a Sony console before, you can play all the biggest hits from the past few years. But, for me, having owned every PlayStation console since the first released, I already have most of these games included in the PS Plus Collection, having either bought them or claimed them for free through PS Plus games. What’s more, the collection is only available to PS5 owners, so if you have the games in the collection already then it’s hardly a draw and if you’re on PS4 then tough luck.
It’s this stagnation of PS Plus that sees me drawn to Xbox Game Pass. Game Pass sees new Xbox games added to its library on day one, which in itself saves Xbox players a pretty penny, while a variety of other titles (both first and third-party) are regularly added to the collection. So if there’s not something there for you right now, there could be in just a few weeks.
But it’s not just these new games that make Game Pass enticing, it’s the old games too. Microsoft appeals to both new and old Xbox players with its subscription service, adding a selection of Xbox games from every generation to the library. So whether you’re a new Xbox player who wants to explore the platform’s rich history that perhaps you missed the first time around or a longtime Xbox player who simply wants to revisit classics like Gears of War and Fable without having to hunt down an old copy of the game, Microsoft has you covered.
Preserving a legacy
(Image credit: Naughty Dog)
Xbox Game Pass has highlighted to me why PS Plus has lost its luster, it does little for me as a long-time PlayStation owner. However, there is hope on the horizon, with a Bloomberg report claiming Sony is working on a revamped subscription service to rival Microsoft’s, we could see PlayStation finally stepping up to the mark and embracing gaming subscription services in a whole new way.
But what would Sony have to offer with its rumored PS Plus/PS Now mashup subscription service to keep my eyes firmly fixed on my PlayStation – while offering something different from Microsoft?
I don’t simply want a copy and paste of Game Pass for PlayStation and, frankly, that’s not Sony’s style. While PlayStation exclusives on day one sound like bliss, it doesn’t seem realistic. Bloomberg’s report claims that this new service will include a catalog of modern and classic games. While the former could easily see Sony simply building on the PS Plus Collection it already has, the latter is the most important to me because it’s what PS Plus has been lacking and what PS Now tries (but ultimately fails) to do effectively. As someone who has owned every PlayStation console to date, the idea of having legacy PlayStation titles easily accessible from my PS5 sounds perfect. No digging out my original PlayStation, hunting for leads or scouring the internet for copies of The Rugrats game.
It’s not just longtime PlayStation fans like myself that this would benefit either, the ability to access a library of classic PlayStation titles across PS1, PS2, PS Vita and more (not via streaming) would open a door to a whole new generation of players: those who were perhaps born after the release of classics like Legacy of Kain and Crocs or who missed the boat for whatever reason. Nintendo has recently found success with bringing its collection of N64 games to Switch, adding it to a library of NES and SNES games, which has allowed players like TRG’s own Callum Bains to play the original Zelda games for the first time.
What’s more, Sony knows there’s demand for its older games, what with the backlash from gamers when it announced plans to shut down the PS3 and Vita stores. It was forced to make a u-turn and keep them open to appease fans. It’s clear there’s a desire to access legacy games and including them in a subscription bundle could allow Sony to shut down the stores with the service acting as a means of preservation. Everyone wins right?
Sony hasn’t confirmed whether or not this reported gaming subscription revamp is indeed on the way, nevermind what it could look like, but I’m hoping that it takes into account PlayStation players old and new and finally makes PS Plus feel valuable to players like me again.