The days of consoles as standalone gaming machines are long behind us. Today, every modern console relies on being connected to a network of content and services. Subscriptions make up a large part of the business of dashboard companies and PlayStation Plus was the pioneer of that model.
If you’re thinking of buying a PlayStation or already have but are considering buying a PlayStation Plus, we’ve got all the information you need to decide if PlayStation Plus is for you.
So, what is PlayStation Plus?
In a nutshell, PlayStation Plus is a subscription service where you pay more or more than the cost of the console and the cost of individual video games. You can subscribe monthly, tri-monthly, or annually. The cheaper the service the more you pay up front.
How much does PlayStation Plus cost?
If you’ve never been a subscriber, you’ll get the first 14 days of PlayStation Plus for free. If you buy your new console, there’s also a good chance of getting a free couple of months coupon included in the box, depending on the plan you purchase. There are three options for subscriptions:
- 1 month – $9.00
- 3 months – $24.99
- 12 months – $59.99
You can also buy Prepaid cards, sometimes offered through third-party sellers for sales and discounts. This is a good opportunity to get a year’s worth of service at a lower cost. Just make sure you’re buying the right card for your region.
What can I do with PlayStation Plus?
If you choose to subscribe to PlayStation Plus, there are a few features you get beyond the standard experience.
The most important feature for most people is multiplayer play. If you want to play games with your friends over the internet, you really have no choice but to subscribe to PlayStation Plus.
There are many exceptions to this one. In general, free games do not require a PlayStation Plus subscription. Some games have their own subscription fees, such as Final Fantasy XIVcan play without paying for the Plus service.
The other exclusive feature is cloud storage. You get 100GB of cloud storage if you’re a PlayStation Plus subscriber. This storage space is used to upload and sync save game data. This comes in very handy if your PlayStation dies or you have two consoles and want to sync saved games between them.
These are the only two features that we think can be considered “core” to the PlayStation experience. If you can live without the multiplayer or cloud saving features of high-end gaming, the PlayStation Plus case is much less appealing.
Share the benefits of PlayStation Plus
PlayStation 4 is designed to be a sharing system. You can have multiple accounts on one machine. Anyone can play all console games, provided that the game belongs to the user who has registered that console as their primary console.
So, do you need to buy a PlayStation Plus subscription for every user on the console to benefit? The answer is it depends. When it comes to multiplayer, everyone on that console can play online, as long as at least one has a PlayStation Plus membership and that’s their primary console.
Also, unsurprisingly, any games purchased by Plus subscribers are still available to others. That includes the “free” PlayStation Plus games we’ll get to in a moment.
Sadly, other users on the system don’t have access to the cloud save feature. Meaning that if something happens to that PS4, only Plus users will have their saved games in a safe place.
How does the “Free” game work?
At the time of writing, Plus subscribers receive at least two PS4 games per month as part of their subscription. You do not have the right to choose which games are offered. This means it could be a game you’ve purchased in the past, or it just doesn’t interest you.
Your gaming license is also tied to your subscription service. That means if you let your Plus subscription expire, you won’t be able to play those games anymore. This also means that you need an internet connection from time to time for the game to renew your license.
On the other hand, even if you let your subscription expire, the PlayStation Plus games you previously requested will still be on your download list. So if you restart the subscription, you can play those games again.
In the past, PS3, Vita, PSP and PS4 games were included every month, but recently Sony has discontinued all of them except for the PS4 titles. Most likely in preparation for PS5.
PlayStation Plus Value Proposition: Discounts, Exclusive Content, and Free Games
When deciding on PlayStation Plus, there are a lot of different factors to take into account as to whether it’s worth the money. Online gaming and cloud backup are certainly worth the cost of the service, but only if you actually use those features. So what about the rest?
Looking at the history of free games with PlayStation Plus, it’s definitely a great deal in pure dollar terms. If you have to buy those games separately, any two premium titles can cost more than a year Plus. How much it’s worth to you will depend on the game title, your preferences, and how many games you already own. It also depends on how often you buy new games.
The same goes for exclusive content. In addition, members will receive exclusive avatars, in-game content, and many other digital items. However, they may not be for the games you play or care about. Make it a very personal element.
In our view, aside from the multiplayer and the cloud, the Plus-only digital discounts easily make up the cost. If you buy (on average) one or two discounted games per month and take advantage of Plus’s additional discount percentage, you’ll earn your money back and more. Most importantly, you will get discounts on games that you choose and really want.
PlayStation Plus and Next Generation
At the time of writing, no one knows how PlayStation Plus will work on the upcoming version PlayStation 5. It is assumed that the core product will be the same, but of course Sony may have changes in store.
Since PS5 is meant to be backwards compatible with PS4 games, we can consider four games per month through Plus that will work on the PS5 console. Also keep in mind that you’ll most likely redeem free PS5 games as a Plus subscriber, even if you don’t own a PS5 yet.
PlayStation Plus has been with us since the days of PlayStation 3. As consoles become more and more online-focused, we expect next-gen experiences to be more deeply embedded with the service.