Talking Point: Are We Starting to Expect Too Much from PlayStation Plus?
Posted by Sammy Barker
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You can have too much of a good thing. Way back in 2010 when PlayStation Plus first launched, this editor greedily gobbled up the single free PlayStation Mini that was given away as part of the premium service every month. It was a real novelty when you got a full game – a selection of SEGA Mega Drive ports fleshed out the subscription’s first year – as the idea of giving away complete titles was unheard of at the time. As the platform evolved, so too did its offerings, with the likes of Burnout Paradise and Shift 2: Unleashed included in the complimentary roster. However, it wasn’t until the unveiling of the Instant Game Collection in 2012 that the format really started to catch people’s attention.
The promise of a rotating selection of 12 critically acclaimed titles lured many into the service, with the likes of inFAMOUS 2, Darksiders, and Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine providing the initial bait. There were still some debates over whether you actually owned these games – allowing your subscription to lapse meant that you’d lose access to any content until you stumped up for a new one – but gradually the platform holder started to win the sceptics over by expanding support for the PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 4. Even more impressively, despite the increase in content, the cost remained the same.
However, we’re beginning to ponder whether the platform holder’s set consumer expectations too high. The service is now more or less mandatory if you own the manufacturer’s next-gen system, so the circumstances have certainly changed – but there appears to be an ugly sense of entitlement surrounding the premium platform these days. Granted, the number of PS3 giveaways has decreased in order to compensate for the addition of a new system, but not even the strongest refresh can quench the insatiable thirst for free software these days. Indeed, even with the addition of blockbusters such as Metro: Last Light, BioShock Infinite, and Tomb Raider, the quality of the complimentary content has supposedly “nosedived” in 2014.
Perhaps part of the problem is that consumer interest has moved away from Sony’s ageing appliance, and started to focus more on its next-gen machine. Since the system’s launch last year, the Instant Game Collection has already seen the addition of Contrast, Resogun, Don’t Starve, Outlast, and Dead Nation: Apocalypse Edition – but for many people, these titles are not enough. As predominantly smaller digital downloads, it could be that the PS3 lineup has trained subscribers into expecting big retail releases – but is it really feasible to expect Killzone: Shadow Fall to be given away so soon after launch? Regardless of whether it’s realistic or not, this appears to be the expectation across the web.
While it hasn’t been officially confirmed yet, it’s looking increasingly likely that side-scrolling shoot-‘em-up Mercenary Kings will be April’s free game for the PS4. However, despite coming from the team behind the excellent Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, the reaction to this rumour has been rather negative around the ‘net. The quality of the title itself appears to be irrelevant, as the throngs of pundits posting their opinions on blog comments and forum threads seem to only care for the fact that it’s a pixel art affair without a boxed product budget.
Of course, it’s totally fair if the title doesn’t appeal to you. The pitfall of PlayStation Plus has always been that you never know exactly what you’re going to get, and whether you may already own it – it’s always been a bit of a lucky dip. Sony’s managed to eradicate the latter by giving away a lot of these titles on launch day – a practice which is beyond baffling when you stop to actually comprehend it – but on the PS4 at least, these giveaways don’t appear to be satiating the most outspoken subscriber. In writing this article, we stumbled across at least three earnest messages from users complaining that inFAMOUS: Second Son hasn’t been added to the Instant Game Collection yet. Expectations are out of control.
The platform holder was always going to invite this kind of criticism when it forced people to own the service to play online, but it still seems a little out of touch as far as we’re concerned. We suppose that promising a trimming down version of DriveClub for launch didn’t exactly help to temper expectations, but we still think it’s important to compare PlayStation Plus to the competition. Xbox Live users, for example, have been paying more for over a decade now in order to simply access Microsoft’s servers, and have only just started to receive some free titles to compensate their expense. And what does this month’s Games with Gold lineup entail? The ancient Civilization Revolution and digital download Dungeon Defenders.
We don’t take issue with consumers demanding bang for their buck – you should absolutely expect to get your money’s worth every month. The thing is, you don’t need to be a public relations mouthpiece to point out that PlayStation Plus has arguably been over delivering on value since its inception way back in 2010 – and it’s improved dramatically since then. If you’re not happy with a particular selection of titles, then you should voice that opinion – after all, feedback is pivotal to the success of any service. However, it’s also important to keep your expectations in check. Just because the latest blockbuster hasn’t been made available for free for your brand new console yet, doesn’t mean that the quality of the service has deteriorated – it just means that you’re being unrealistic.
Are you one of those people disappointed with the quality of PlayStation Plus’ recent offerings, or do you simply shake your head at some of the service’s more outspoken subscribers? Shout at us in the comments section below.
Are you satisfied with the current state of PlayStation Plus? (109 votes)
Yes, I’m a very content subscriber
I’m neither happy nor unhappy
No, I’m considering cancelling soon
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