Give Sony $50 A Year, Get Very Little In Return

Sony unveiled the specifics of its Xbox Live-like PlayStation Plus program on its PlayStation Blog, revealing an underwhelming set of features for the $50 annual fee. Bear in mind that Sony already gives away online play — something Microsoft charges for.

PlayStation Plus, which launches Tuesday, aims to be the champagne room for your PS3, offering a rotating selection of games you can download and keep as long as your subscription remains active, the ability to let your PS3 automatically download game and system updates, extra PlayStation Store discounts and free downloads of Qore, Sony’s gaming show. PlayStation Plus also lets you download full games, play for an hour then choose whether or not to buy the game.

The service’s introductory post ends with what seems like an apology for the slim pickings:

PlayStation Plus is a continually evolving service and we are always working on identifying new partnerships, developing new features and providing new content that our users want.

Hopefully PlayStation Plus evolves into something compelling.

PlayStation Plus: Your Questions Answered [PlayStation Blog]

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  1. temporaryscars says:

    So, basically, it’s an optional donation.

  2. jackinthegreen11 says:

    What more is there to actually give to away for the 50 dollar fee though? It would be nice for the 50 dollar fee to have the netflix monthly service included in your membership. or hulu included as I read they are considering that.

    • TuxthePenguin says:

      How about to be able to use Netflix without the damn disk? That’s be nice…

      But if they do rotating games, 12 per year, and as long as you keep it up for that year and download even half of them, that gets the price per game down to $8.33 a game. Kind of worth it there. And if they thrown in all-around discounts at the store, it could be worth it too (FF7-9 are there right now…)

      • MSUHitman says:

        That’s a Netflix issue because the 360 version uses Silverlight. Netflix has not been able to get a Flash version of the service working and Microsoft will not let them license out the Silverlight version to be used on competitor machines.

        • common_sense84 says:

          What?

          They didn’t always use silver light. They migrated to silverlight a year and a half ago. Before that they did not use silverlight. There is no “struggling” to make a non silverlight version. They originally had a non silverlight version. And nothing microsoft does can force netflix to be exclusively silverlight. Netflix chose to no longer offer a non silverlight version. That all all them.

        • dpeters11 says:

          If it uses Silverlight, I wonder if it’s possible to get Moonlight working on the PS3. That’s an open source version Novell developed with help from Microsoft.

        • sqlrob says:

          There’s no technical reason that they couldn’t run from the disk image instead of a physical disk.

          I actually prefer the interface on the PS3 to the one on the 360, but the disk and speed issues keep me on the 360 one.

          • Aesteval says:

            Interface and speed aside, I’ve found that each version of Netflix has a benefit on each over the other. The 360 version does a better job of adjusting playback for irregular connection speeds, but I’ve also recently discovered that the PS3 does a much better job of handling disconnects. On the 360, the moment your connection disappears you’re booted off of Live and the Netflix app aborts and loses the position you’re at in whatever you were watching. On the PS3, it will remain in program and keep trying to re-stream from where it left off when the connection dropped. The 360 version needs to be changed so that the server marks where you left off so the console can update when it reconnects. The PS3 version needs to get off of the disc and onto the hard drive so it can be updated so that it runs smoother.

        • MrEvil says:

          Ironically though. Before Netflix used a silverlight player you had to use IE to stream on your PC. However, the Silverlight player works with Firefox too.

        • AoE says:

          What? I’m sorry, I don’t ask this very often… but are you stupid? I promise you this is not a troll or a joke. I ask because the Netflix service works just fine on the PS3 and it has since November of last year. It was made available on the Wii this past April.

  3. nbs2 says:

    I’d rather have Sony’s optional accessories for $50/year situation than the mandated XBL Gold to get access to very basic features. While Sony doesn’t offer as much with the newer paid account system, remember that MS is charging for what Sony gives away free.

    I can’t believe I defended something Sony does. Let’s see Rowe top that.

    • Morte42 says:

      This is my nomination for the dumbest comment of the year. You’d rather get a set of perks for $50 as opposed to the same set of perks for $50. Brilliant.

      Besides that fact that Xbox Live has more, and generally more positively received, games utilizing online play, and the fact that you can get a year of Live for as little as $25, if you’re willing to hunt for a deal, this argument is just plain stupid in that you’re arguing for the same thing you argue against. Good lord.

      • common_sense84 says:

        Xbox live is 30 dollars a year. As long as you buy it when you see it, you will never pay above 30 dollars.

        Like this past week amazon, newegg, and buy.com all had 1 year cards for 30 bucks.

        • jibo says:

          It’s also, you know, a hell of a lot better than the Playstation Network. I have both, and I can’t stand PSN, there’s no way I’m shelling out for PSN Plus but I have no issue with paying for XBL Gold.

          • Twonkey says:

            I agree, Jibo.

            If paying Sony a subscription fee would get me an online experience on the PS3 equal to that of Microsoft’s Gold Live service, then I’d be glad do pay that fee. Sure the PSN is free of charge, but that’s definitely reflected in the quality of the online experience. It’s serviceable, but after playing so many butter-smooth online games on my 360, serviceable just isn’t enough.

      • nbs2 says:

        $25/year, $30/year, $15/year, it doesn’t matter. I’ll make this simple for you:

        There is a universe of features that an online service can provide, which are divided into two classes, E and O. E, for essentials, are core features that every user will want. O, for optional, are extra features for which a user would enjoy but doesn’t demand. With XBL, you can get a free silver account which has a some of E. You can upgrade to gold to get the full universe of E and O. With PSN, you can have a free account of E or upgrade to PSPlus to the the full universe of E and O.

        So, to get the full universe, XBL Gold may cost less than PSPlus. But, if you just want the full set of E, then the free PSN account is cheaper than XBL Gold. If you only want some of E, then the free PSN account is the same price as XBL Silver.

        People that are happy with E, you can pay less with PSN than you can with XBL. If you want the full universe, then you can save with XBL if you look for deals (and I suspect PSPlus will have deals in the near future).

        Is XBL better than PSN? Certainly. But just because something is better now doesn’t mean it will always be better.

        Hopefully that makes things easier for you to understand. I’d hate for you to go on struggling with logic.

        • Morte42 says:

          tl;dr, but what you said is this: “I’d rather have Sony’s optional accessories for $50/year situation than the mandated XBL Gold to get access to very basic features.”

          So you’d rather pay $50 for PSN+ rather than pay $50 for Xbox Live, which you admit is better than PSN+, because Xbox Live charges you no matter what and PSN is available in a free version. That’s stupid, and you’re so full of yourself that you honestly think you have a point.

          • teke367 says:

            I don’t know exactly what he meant, but I took it to be he doesn’t like that XBL requires you to pay money to play online.

      • DanRydell says:

        It’s not a stupid comment. Most playstation users will be content with the basic PSN service and continue paying nothing – though they get less. For many people that’s more desirable than paying to get a bit more. If Microsoft gave you everything Sony gives you for free (especially free online play) and charged extra for stuff like cross-game chat, I doubt many people would still be willing to pay for Live Gold.

        • Morte42 says:

          You’re not arguing that same thing he is.

          “I’d rather have Sony’s optional accessories for $50/year situation than the mandated XBL Gold to get access to very basic features.”

          He says he’d rather pay Sony $50 for PSN+ than Microsoft $50 for XBL, even though they have nearly identical features. He even says that Sony’s isn’t as good as Microsoft’s. So he admits to wanting to pay more for less features, simply because Microsoft charges for everything while Sony gives some of it away for free.

          That, my friend, is a stupid argument.

          • Ninja Robot Pirate says:

            “He says he’d rather pay Sony $50 for PSN+ than Microsoft $50 for XBL, even though they have nearly identical features.”

            No, he said “I’d rather have Sony’s optional accessories for $50/year situation than the mandated XBL Gold to get access to very basic features.” The key word here is “optional”. he never said he would opt to pay Sony $50, just that he prefers still having basic features for free and having the option to pay. I agree with him, since trying to play online with a Silver Xbox Live account sucks. While Sony’s pad service is underwhelming, at least free users still have a decent online experience.

            • kujospam says:

              I have both systems, and it all depends on the game for me. When it comes to online playing, I find myself playing more online with ps3. But it has more to do with the games then anything else. Originally the only reason i paid for xbox gold was for netflix streaming. But not really anymore, and I’m not sure I will do it again. The only game I liked playing online was res evil 5, and the only reason I got that on xbox was because i got the res evil 5 bundle, which was well worth it. Besides that, I find myself playing battlefield 1943 on ps3, fat princess, demon souls, modkart racers, commandos, star trek dac and a lot lot more.

              Over all though I really spend most of my game playing time on the computer, but some of this might change, just upgraded to a 60 inch tv from a 37 inch. And I’m in wow mode right now with it. The only thing I can’t stand about the xbox is that it’s interface is just slow slow slow, but it looks nice?

  4. Amnesiac85 says:

    Taken from Kotaku…

    “…Those paying a monthly fee will be able to download at least four games a month free of charge: one PSN title, two minis and one PS1 Classic.

    …Discounting the minis, which are usually rubbish, that’s still 12 PSN games and 12 PS1 classics a year for your subscription. That’s a great deal.”

    That’s a pretty sweet deal. That will pay for itself very quickly. Also, in PAL regions (and possibly other regions), you’ll get a free download of ‘Little Big Planet’ that’s not tied to your PSN.

    • grumblingmumbles says:

      the problem is, you will not get to pick which games you get for free (which are only available to you while you are a member)

      This usually means they will pick games that aren’t very good

      • Greely says:

        Yes, because I know when I am trying to sell something, I give my customers crap on purpose to keep them coming back.

  5. Blinden says:

    uhh, this seems like a lot of value added stuff, not sure why this post seems negative, seems pretty trollish to me actually.

    AND it’s completely optional, you don’t need it to play online, perhaps sony should strip from online play, and THEN charge for it, that would make it more valuable I guess?

    • Megalomania says:

      they kind of are – if you’re playing COD and your friends are playing RE5, you aren’t going to be able to talk to them unless you both have PSN+, which is essentially holding a downright basic feature from regular users. You almost have to wonder if they held off on adding it just so that they could do this instead of risk having to take it away after people got used to it.

      • Blinden says:

        So… on which system is this ‘basic’ service free?

        none that I can think of.

        • ArsonIsFun says:

          agreed.

          I also really don’t care about cross-game chat and I’m kind of confused why it’s such a big deal to some people.

  6. Link_Shinigami says:

    Little in return? They are giving away 4 games a month that you get to keep even if you walk away (Needs to be 100% confirmed but that’s how it’s to be interpreted as there are mixed reports). 1 PSN game, 1 PS Classic and 2 Mini’s. And discounts on select DLC (Only downside is it’s not all DLC… Could be fixed).

    From your old family site before the sell has it outlined in total, http://gizmodo.com/5572578/playstation-plus-explained . PSN+ sounds like anything but returning very little for your $50/yr

    • Gamereviewgod says:

      But what if you already own the games they’re giving away? The first games they announced I already have, except for Rally Cross which I have on physical disc for the PS1. In other words, I get nothing for the first month.

      And you must keep your subscription active to keep the games. That’s what “keep as long as your subscription remains active” means. I’d rather just buy them outright if that’s the case.

    • sqlrob says:

      No, you don’t get to keep them. Walk away, and they go away.

    • BStu78 says:

      Since when do you respond to ambiguity by assuming the best?

    • Griking says:

      LEt’s see if we can guess the first year’s assortment of free games

      A few Army Men titles, maybe Madden and NBA 2001, Hooters Road Trip, and Powerpuff Girls: Chemical X-traction

  7. jvanbrecht says:

    I find the ability to download full retail titles to play for an hour almost worth the $50 a year.. why.. I bought Final Fantasy when it came out… reviews were good… I like the last one I played (granted that was years ago, I think it was final fantasy 7)… This one was rather crappy for me.. and I did not enjoy it, cost me $60, that was a $30 loss for a game I never played when I traded it in.

    The ability to test a game would more than pay for itself rather than wasting money on 2 crappy retail titles.

    • hoi-polloi says:

      From what little I’ve found, it looks like full downloads are limited to two titles that Sony picks each month. This might be worthwhile if you could actually pick the titles, even if they kept the 2-game cap in place. If it was wide open, I could easily see a value in downloading and having fun with titles I wouldn’t normally purchase (sport and racing games, etc.). They don’t normally hold my interest, but playing one for an hour if I didn’t have any active games would be fun.

      If I’m not picking the games I get, I’m not interested. I really don’t care about early access to demos, custom backgrounds or avatars, etc. Getting 12 PS1 games I already played to death or didn’t want all those years ago doesn’t sound like such a great service.

  8. RobHoliday says:

    I will pay the $50 a year when the developers start putting the trigger button on the actual right trigger button instead of the right bumper on FPS. Also, has anyone ever seen a convex trigger? In real life, triggers are concave.

    I have no problem paying $30 (yes $30, not a typo) a year for Xbox Live.

    • Mike says:

      “developers start putting the trigger button on the actual right trigger button instead of the right bumper on FPS.”

      Man I hate that. Don’t get me started on control issues. One of the things that I loved about PC gaming was that you could configure any controller any way you wanted to. I just wish console games would be just as flexible. Let me create custom controls for every game. Switching from Just Cause 2 to Red Dead Redemption is killing me right now.

    • subtlefrog says:

      You realize the Play Station people have nothing to do with the game development, right? Totally different teams, who don’t really talk to each other.

  9. Moweropolis says:

    Really? Still keeping up with the jabs about having to pay for XBL matchmaking service? Get over it already, did Microsoft kill your puppy or something?

  10. common_sense84 says:

    Ha. What a joke. Xbox live is 30 bucks a year and it’s for actual things. This is 50 bucks a year so they can advertise to you. A complete joke.

    But one thing is certain, online play will not be free on the next playstation. (not that it matters since anyone who likes online games has xbox)

    • Shadowfire says:

      What? XBL is $50 a year. PSN+ gives you free games.

      Oh sorry, fanboi. My bad…

      • hansolo247 says:

        but XBL is frequently discounted at retail. PSN cards cannot be as they have actual currency denominations.

        • Concat says:

          It’s a brand new service and you are assuming that you cannot get a subscription card just like with xbox live.

  11. Shadowfire says:

    Please label this news piece as an editorial. Many of us believe this is actually a damn good deal. Think of it more like the start of a GameTap type of setup.

    • common_sense84 says:

      How? Netflix is like 8 bucks a month. No game rental service is above 20. xbox live is 30 bucks a month.

      50 dollars a month is a rip off no matter what they are offering.

    • Twonkey says:

      This is a blog. None of these folks are journalists, though they may come from a journalism background. I don’t know, nor do I care. I just tend to assume, given the venue, that a certain amount of editorializing is going to occur. Perhaps you should too. ;)

  12. Guppy06 says:

    “the ability to let your PS3 automatically download (…) system updates”

    With their history of bricks and feature removals, this is a bug, not a feature. They’ll have to pay me $50 annually to let them do this.

  13. Scuba Steve says:

    $9 a month x 12 = $72 dollars a year. Netflix would make the Xbox live fee seem like a bargain.

  14. TIJAG says:

    The extra stuff may hold value to some, and $50 bucks a year isn’t a terrible deal and might actually be worth it depending on the games you can play for free.

    The ‘try before you buy’ option is actually pretty interesting, although I don’t think it should be tied to this pay service.

    $4.25 a month [less actually] for 1 free game a month… thats not worth it? It may not be to me, and it may not be to you, but I don’t really think its ‘slim pickings.’

    Given that its an optional service, that you have to pay for, I’d say they are doing a great job with offering something that has some appeal, and are doing so at a not unreasonable price.

  15. BurtReynolds says:

    It depends on how the “free” games end up rolling out. If they are pretty good, maybe I could get into it. I don’t like the fact the games would be tied to my subscription though. I’d rather have fewer games that I could actually continue to play should I decide the service isn’t worth it, then to pay to essentially build a collection of games I am renting. If commercial free Hulu was included, it might inch even closer to “worth it”.

    Unfortunately, I still think Sony is going to try and force us to pay for gaming in the near future. Something like Madden 12 will be “optimized” for PSN Plus and require subscription to play online. They’ll sell it as an upgrade, when in reality you are just paying for what you used to get for free.

  16. bigd738778 says:

    Well the 360 may charge for online play but the quality between MS and Sony is not even close. I have both services and the 360 has always been the best ever since the old Xbox days. Consumerist needs to understand that you get what you pay for and in the case of Sony, you don’t get much. Also that $50 a year for Live is a little misleading since I have never spent more than $30 for a year of Live because someone always has a deal on the 1 year Live card. Now Sony is wanting people to pay $50 a year to give you things that MS have offered as just part of their system since the begining, that being automatic downloads and installs. 360 automatically updates the system and games but Sony is charging to have that done for you?

    • Concat says:

      You’re saying xbox live gives you retail games for free as part of their service? Because they don’t.

    • kujospam says:

      Xbox does nothing automatically. Please think. if it did, I would never need to patch everything before playing it, which I find myself often doing it. Besides whose to say it won’t also be 30 dollars also at some card deal store. I have to say I probably won’t be doing psn+, not my thing so far.

      By the way, you really buy every single game for both systems and test out the multilayer? That must be nice. I’m not saying this stuff is true or not, but most people who claim one is better then the other, don’t buy the games on both systems. Sometimes they might buy one or even two, but not say 30 or 40, to make a reasonable comparison. If you ask me, it’s all how the developer put the time into it. I have played plenty of ps3 games with great online play that kicks xbox to the curb. And when it comes to xbox, I have found several flops compared to ps3 on the same game. They are both really good systems though. But my choice of games are different, the only sport games I like are hockey, and I only really liked halo 1. The rest to me were junk.

  17. RoCSkieS says:

    Great, another thing I won’t pay for this year.

  18. Concat says:

    You get monthly games, discounts, Qore, exclusive demos…. for $4.17 per month.

    That seems like a good deal to me, and no one is being forced to pay. They aren’t removing services from the non-paying PSN users. I don’t understand why the “get very little in return” statement. For 4 bucks a month you actually get quite a bit.

    In July you get Wipeout HD.

    • Twonkey says:

      I read the blog, and while I’m not going to go as far as to say that it’s not worth it for other folks, it’s definitely not worth it as far as I’m concerned. That said, rather than piss and moan about it online, I’m just going to…not buy it.

      It’s not like it’s evil of Sony to try and devise ways to wring some extra cash out of its customers, what with them being a business and all. They’ve done way worse to us PS3 owners before, so this actually seems downright generous of them. So I’ll just ignore it like I do anything else that fails to capture my interest, and life will continue on as it always has.

  19. MercuryPDX says:

    I think maybe… just maybe… I’ll try it for a year. If the freebies, PSN Discounts, and free game trials don’t “do it” for me, then I’m out.

  20. Paladingo says:

    I have both consoles, will keep my XBL (which is now less than $25/year thanks to the family package) and likely not bother with PSN.

  21. Link_Shinigami says:

    Stop comparing PSN+ to XBL, seriously. XBL’s main focus is you pay to play your game online. Who cares what you say you pay for it with discounts or whatever, why? Because PSN is free to play online. Right there, your whole “I only have to pay $35/year” argument is moot. No if, ands, or buts. Right there, it is done. PSN+ competes with XBL. Both are pay services, you are paying $50/year to get 4 games a month (Who cares if Sony picks them, that’s four more games for free that XBL doesn’t give), discounts on DLC (Again, Sony picks them. Does XBL get these? Not to my knowledge). As well as some other perks.

    All you people that keep saying you’ll stick with XBL, go for it. Sony won’t care. Why? Because you’ll be paying to play games online that they let you play online for free. You want to pay $50/yr to get a bunch of stuff ON TOP of the already free services as opposed to paying $35-50/yr to essentially just play online, on servers that are generally hosted local? Go for it, Sony, and most everyone that actually realizes what PSN+ is won’t miss you

    • Link_Shinigami says:

      The first sentence should be PSN to XBL… Needs edit button… Or better proof reading

    • Twonkey says:

      Stop comparing two similar services? Okay.

      Listen, you just need to take a deep breath and calm down. Once you come to your senses, maybe then you’ll realize that it’s all just videogames, and that not only is it absolutely unimportant in the larger scheme of things, but it’s nothing to shit yourself over in a fit of unbridled nerd-rage either.

      Also, get some perspective already, would you? Did you really write that thinking that the fanboys on the other side of the fence were going to give a shit about anything that you had to say there? You fanboys never do anything but talk past one another, and the rest of us don’t give a shit about the things you freaks argue about, so why do you even bother with it? It’s not like it could be said that you’re doing it because you enjoy intellectually engaging discussions, because you people always write up the most intellectually insulting, self-serving bullshit that you possibly can and call it a day. So what’s the point of it all? Why do you bother to continue writing something that serves no real purpose but to annoy everyone who happens upon it in the search for a thoughtful discussion about videogames?

      Seriously, you fanboys need to stop wasting your time. Grow up already. This shit is tired.

  22. teke367 says:

    You get games, that would cost you $50 per game in some cases, as far as the games going away when you stop being a member, isn’t that true for free XBL Gold games? I think 1 vs. 100 is Gold only, so if you stop being a member, you can’t play anymore. So you get 1 vs. 100 or Little Big Planet, I think Sony wins in that comparison.

    And the $50 per year isn’t misleading for Gold membership, that’s the price. There may be a deal to be found, but who’s the say there wouldn’t be for PSN+ as well.

    I have both 360 and PS3, currently I like Live (Gold) better than PSN. I signed up for Gold right away, so I don’t know what Silver only members get, but I believe besides no online play, they get very limited access to demos.

    Just a little strange that PS3 is getting bashed basically because they weren’t ripping off their customers for the last few years.

  23. Dyscord says:

    It has potential if the games they offer aren’t crap.

  24. Twonkey says:

    The only really significant thing about PSN+ is that it seems to be spurring Sony to finally catch up to Microsoft and add full PS3 games to its service to download. It’s about time, Sony.

    In a way, their implementation actually one-ups Microsoft’s, in that you can play the game for free for an hour or so (unless otherwise stated) as a PSN+ member. Even cooler still, you don’t lose your progress if you chose to buy the game.

    I’m a little anxious to see what games show up on the service. I don’t imagine that we’ll ever see something like say, Metal Gear Solid 4 ever show up, as that uses the full capacity of a Blu-Ray disk. We’ll probably see more games along the lines of Infamous, which probably could have fit on a dual-layer DVD…

  25. Twonkey says:

    By the way, after reading all the posts where people claim that you’re getting free games from Sony…well, it just occurred to me that, no, you’re not. You’re essentially renting them. Sure, it’s a hell of a deal over the course of the subscription, but once it expires, you lose access to that stuff. Granted re-upping lets you keep it, or redownload it depending on when you do it, but you’re not being given anything for free here.

    I think that distinction needs to be made, being that much to-do is being made about that aspect of the service.

  26. Cyco says:

    If you don’t want to drop $50 right away, you can buy a 3 month lot for $17.99. If you do pay the $50 fee, Sony will add an additional 3 months for free to the subscription. Finally, like with Xbox Live, there will be + Cards that are sold at retailers which means that they will be eventually put on sale like Live cards have been in the past.

  27. Chris J. Stone says:

    It’s a great deal, yet you’re portraying it as having little to offer and almost apologetic? On day one, I got $17.96 worth of free items and $5.49 worth of exclusive discounts. In total, between free items and discounts, you could get a total value of over $81 free this month, and there are going to be 14 more months of this. It’s not intended for the casual user, but for people like me who do buy things online on an often basis, it’s a nice deal.

    You show a chart where Android phones beat the iPhone 4 in almost every category, yet the title suggests that the iPhone 4 is the best phone ever, based on one statistic alone. Now, Sony offers heavy users of the PS Store a way to free games, discounts, and access to exclusive betas, yet you write about it with such hateful language. I’m starting to get really sick of this bias.