Sony’s PlayStation Plus was an unexpected experiment that came out of nowhere on June 29, 2010. A subscription-based service that would guarantee people exclusive content each month for $49.99 a year, $10 less than Xbox Live Gold? It was an unheard of development in the gaming sphere. Especially since it wasn’t doing what Microsoft did at the time, that is, charging people for access to online gaming. It was daring, and quickly grew into a darling.
Now, it’s June 29, 2015. PlayStation Plus has been with us for five years. It’s quite possible there are PS3, PS4, and Vita owners who can’t remember a time without the service, and with good reason, too. Sony’s PlayStation Plus has blossomed. What started as a service that seemed like the company throwing ideas at a wall and seeing what stuck has become a shining example of what companies should do for consumers.
As much as we love it now, we have to admit that PlayStation Plus got off to something of a haphazard start. Free games popped in at out at random intervals. There was no consistency. Sometimes there would be one indie game a month, others there would be a more substantial offering like Tomb Raider: Underworld . It was rocky, but forgivable. After all, this had never been done.
But 2014 saw PlayStation Plus undergo a transformation. Sony tightened things up. It realized people needed structure, especially with three systems crying out for free games, and responded. An organized schedule was put in place, doling out at least 2 PS3, 2 PS4 and 2 Vita games each month. Sometimes more, when you factor in cross-buy. Now, people know that the first Tuesday of every month, a bundle of games awaits them.
The sales have improved too. Initially, PlayStation Plus deals appeared, but not often. The discounts weren’t terribly drastic. Now, people can count on up to 75% discounts on most PlayStation Store events, flash sales excluded, while general users make do with up to 50%. We even get PlayStation Plus Specials, exclusive deals on recent releases that offer 10-20% discounts. It’s like after five years, you can still feel the appreciation.
Perhaps the only blemish is the unavoidable one. PlayStation Plus has become a necessity for PS4 owners to play with friends online. However, this also allows for the usage of Share Play, which lets people who don’t own a game go online and play alongside fellow PlayStation Plus friends who do. It’s regretable, but we’ve reached a point where there’s nothing that could have been done. And at least it means we’re getting access to a revolutionary form of multiplayer.
The biggest indicator of PlayStation Plus’ success over the past few years may just be the influence it has had on Xbox Live Gold. Microsoft adopted a Games with Gold promotion inspired by PlayStation Plus, which now doles out four games each month to subscribers. Given that’s two games for each of the Microsoft systems, with again one usually being a console title and the other a digital exclusive, it’s easy to see the resemblence.