Playstation Plus Launches: What’s There, What’s MissingBy Benjamin Opal
Playstation Plus, which arrives on the Playstation Network today via firmware update, is Sony’s answer to Xbox Live, but it’s a decidedly different service. Instead of charging players for online multiplayer — that remains free — Sony is fashioning Playstation Plus as a sort of VIP program. The gist is that you get free games, early previews and hour-long trials of full games for $50 per year or $18 for three months. Details below.
Here’s my abbreviated take on Sony’s blog post explaining Playstation Plus:
I imagine the biggest lure to Playstation Plus will be the free games, avatars and themes, but it’ll take a few months to get a sense of what Sony plans to offer. For now, Sony says you’ll be able to download PSN games, minis and PS One Classics on a rotating basis, starting with WipEoutHD, Fieldrunners, Age of Zombies and Rally Cross. The available games will change every month, but as long as you remember to download them, you can keep playing for as long as you have a subscription. Themes and avatars may be kept forever.
Full game trials also seem like a solid lure, but again we’ll have to see how many games participate. First up is an hour-long trial of Infamous. As for discounts, Sony promises 20 percent to 50 percent off select PSN games, but there’s no mention of discounts on full retail games. No word yet on which exclusive demos and betas will be available first.
A lot of Playstation 3 owners must’ve asked Sony about cross-game voice chat, because the company addressed the issue with this response: “Cross-game voice chat is a feature we know our passionate user base has asked for and we’ll continue to look at as a viable offering for the PlayStation Network.” It’s too bad the feature is still missing from PSN, but I’m glad it’s not something users are being asked to pay for right now.
Currently, you’ll have to sign up for Playstation Plus directly through the console, but Sony plans to sell subscription cards at retail, and you can also pay with existing Playstation Network cards.