In hindsight, we suppose that Sony’s strategy with PlayStation Plus was a little cunning. When the platform holder rolled out its subscription service several years ago, it was billed as an optional extra for PlayStation 3 owners – a mere means for members to secure a pocketful of freebies for a nominal fee. As the years passed, the quality of said giveaways improved, eventually representing such ridiculous value that no one batted an eyelid when Jack Tretton quietly confirmed that you’ll need to pay to play online with the PlayStation 4.

Now that it’s got consumers where it wants them, though, has the quality of the premium platform taken a nosedive? With the manufacturer running a multiplayer competition to round out the year – as well as plenty of European and North American offers that take advantage of the membership – we figured that we’d take a look at PlayStation Plus as a whole in 2014, and determine how well the service has fared over the past 12 months. Has the Japanese giant taken its foot off the gas – or is the service still leading the way as far as added value is concerned?

January

It was business as usual for PlayStation Plus in January, with the PS3 titles representing the Instant Game Collection’s highlights. BioShock Infinite headlined in North America, while DmC: Devil May Cry was the chief attraction in Europe. Don’t Starve was the primary PS4 game in both regions.

North America

  • Don’t Starve
  • BioShock Infinite
  • DmC: Devil May Cry
  • Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
  • Smart As
  • Worms: Battle Islands

Total Value: $123.45
Metacritic Average: 81

Europe

  • Don’t Starve
  • DmC: Devil May Cry
  • Borderlands 2
  • Soul Sacrifice
  • BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend

Total Value: £86.45
Metacritic Average: 83

February

February was another rip-roaring month for PlayStation Plus, with Outlast being one of the best received PS4 indie titles of the year. The roster of retail PS3 and Vita titles were merely the icing on the cake.

North America

  • Outlast
  • Metro: Last Light
  • Payday 2
  • Remember Me
  • ModNation Racers: Road Trip
  • Street Fighter X Tekken

Total Value: $183.44
Metacritic Average: 74

Europe

  • Outlast
  • BioShock Infinite
  • Metro: Last Light
  • Dynasty Warriors Next
  • ModNation Racers: Road Trip

Total Value: £137.45
Metacritic Average: 76

March

Perhaps one of the weaker months in 2014: March’s free Dead Nation: Apocalypse Edition wasn’t exactly outstanding, and Tomb Raider came after the release of the Definitive Edition for the PS4. Still, you can’t go wrong with Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons.

North America

  • Dead Nation: Apocalypse Edition
  • Tomb Raider
  • Thomas Was Alone
  • Lone Survivor: The Director’s Cut
  • Unit 13
  • Monster Hunter: Freedom Unite

Total Value: $102.94
Metacritic Average: 80

Europe

  • Dead Nation: Apocalypse Edition
  • Tomb Raider
  • Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
  • PixelJunk Monsters Ultimate HD
  • Smart As

Total Value: £48.95
Metacritic Average: 80

April

Mercenary Kings was another divisive PS4 indie, but it was offset in North America by the brilliant Batman: Arkham City at least. It was a mixed Easter for Europe, however, with PES 2014: Pro Evolution Soccer being the pick from a somewhat poor list.

North America

  • Mercenary Kings
  • Batman: Arkham City
  • Stealth Inc: A Clone in the Dark
  • Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse
  • Velocity Ultra
  • PixelJunk Monsters Ultimate HD

Total Value: $87.44
Metacritic Average: 82

Europe

  • Mercenary Kings
  • PES 2014: Pro Evolution Soccer
  • Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time
  • Hotline Miami
  • MotoGP 13

Total Value: £79.95
Metacritic Average: 77

May

May was a much better month than April, with Stick It to the Man surprising a fair few, and the brilliant Puppeteer adding a layer of underrated class to proceedings. Muramasa Rebirth was also a nice addition to Europe’s lineup.

North America

  • Stick It to the Man
  • Puppeteer
  • PES 2014: Pro Evolution Soccer
  • Skullgirls Encore
  • Surge Deluxe
  • Limbo

Total Value: $109.94
Metacritic Average: 80

Europe

  • Stick It to the Man
  • Puppeteer
  • Payday 2
  • Muramasa Rebirth
  • Everybody’s Golf

Total Value: £76.45
Metacritic Average: 77

June

This is the month where Sony switched things up: PS4 received two titles in June, with Trine 2 and PixelJunk Shooter Ultimate among the noteworthy freebies. This was also the start of Europe and North America’s lineups starting to match.

North America

  • Trine 2
  • PixelJunk Shooter Ultimate
  • NBA 2K14
  • Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time
  • Terraria
  • Mutant Mudds Deluxe

Total Value: $139.94
Metacritic Average: 82

Europe

  • Trine 2
  • PixelJunk Shooter Ultimate
  • NBA 2K14
  • Lone Survivor: The Director’s Cup
  • Dragon’s Crown
  • Surge Deluxe

Total Value: £81.45
Metacritic Average: 82

July

With the industry on holiday, July didn’t provide a particularly scorching lineup, but Strider and TowerFall Ascension were both solid additions on the PS4. Dead Space 3 was a nice bonus for survival horror fans, while Doki Doki Universe offered something a little out of the ordinary.

North America

  • TowerFall Ascension
  • Strider
  • Dead Space 3
  • Vessel
  • Muramasa Rebirth
  • Doki Doki Universe

Total Value: $93.94
Metacritic Average: 78

Europe

  • TowerFall Ascension
  • Strider
  • Dead Space 3
  • Vessel
  • LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes
  • Doki Doki Universe

Total Value: £77.64
Metacritic Average: 74

August

It was in August when a few complaints regarding the quality of PlayStation Plus started to raise their head. Road Not Taken was yet another divisive indie, though Fez had already secured rave reviews earlier in the year.

North America

  • Road Not Taken
  • Fez
  • Crysis 3
  • Proteus
  • Metrico
  • Dragon’s Crown

Total Value: $115.94
Metacritic Average: 76

Europe

  • Road Not Taken
  • Fez
  • Crysis 3
  • Proteus
  • Metrico
  • LEGO Harry Potter Years 5-7

Total Value: £79.94
Metacritic Average: 73

September

September started to put things back on track, with the sensational Velocity 2X scoring a 10/10 in these hallowed halls. PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale was also a nice addition, considering the title sold very poorly during its retail run.

North America

  • Velocity 2X
  • Sportsfriends
  • PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale
  • Hoard
  • Joe Danger
  • TXK

Total Value: $85.94
Metacritic Average: 80

Europe

  • Velocity 2X
  • Sportsfriends
  • PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale
  • Hoard
  • Joe Danger
  • TXK

Total Value: £60.74
Metacritic Average: 80

October

It was mainly more indies in October, but Dust: An Elysian Tail, Spelunky, and Pix the Cat all attained some high scores. Batman: Arkham Asylum was an unusual giveaway considering sequel Arkham City had been offered in North America earlier in the year – but, hey, it’s still one of the PS3’s best games.

North America

  • Dust: An Elysian Tail
  • Spelunky
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara
  • Pix the Cat
  • Rainbow Moon

Total Value: $96.44
Metacritic Average: 79

Europe

  • Dust: An Elysian Tail
  • Spelunky
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara
  • Pix the Cat
  • Rainbow Moon

Total Value: £69.94
Metacritic Average: 79

November

Sony actually announced December’s PlayStation Plus lineup immediately after November’s, perhaps sensing some unrest at the selection of The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. Vocal criticism aside, the title still attained rave reviews.

North America

  • The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth
  • Steamworld Dig
  • Frozen Synapse Prime
  • Luftrausers
  • The Hungry Horde
  • Escape Plan

Total Value: $79.94
Metacritic Average: 80

Europe

  • The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth
  • Steamworld Dig
  • Frozen Synapse Prime
  • Luftrausers
  • The Hungry Horde
  • Escape Plan

Total Value: £57.24
Metacritic Average: 80

December

The next step for PlayStation Plus on the PS4 was to offer retail games, and Injustice: Gods Among Us became the first boxed freebie in December. It was joined by spaghetti western Secret Ponchos, as well as a strong selection of PS3 and Vita titles – a sublime end to the year.

North America

  • Injustice: Gods Among Us
  • Secret Ponchos
  • Hitman HD Trilogy
  • Deadly Premonition: The Director’s Cut
  • Final Horizon
  • Titan Attacks

Total Value: $129.94
Metacritic Average: 73

Europe

  • Injustice: Gods Among Us
  • Secret Ponchos
  • Hitman HD Trilogy
  • Deadly Premonition: The Director’s Cut
  • Final Horizon
  • Titan Attacks

Total Value: £124.44
Metacritic Average: 73

Conclusion

With all of the data painstakingly collated, we can finally attempt to answer the initial question: did PlayStation Plus represent value for money in 2014? Well, according to our research, Sony gave away $1,349.29 worth of software in North America this year, and £960.64 in Europe. That’s an average of $112.44/£81.72 per month – a number which makes the service’s $49.99/£39.99 annual asking fee look like a bargain.

There are some caveats to contend with here, however. Any software given away with Sony’s subscription will expire should you opt to let your membership lapse, though you will regain access should you pod up for another term within a timely manner. In addition, it’s worth mentioning that not every title was a blockbuster, but the average monthly Metacritic rating according to our research was 79 in North America and 78 in Europe. Not to be sniffed at, then.

And, of course, the giveaways aren’t the only things worthy of note. In addition to enabling you to play online, the Japanese giant’s subscription service also offers regular discounts, as well as cloud storage, competitions, and perks such as Tune In radio. There’s also the implementation of Share Play on the PS4 to take into account as well, which allows you to create a virtual couch co-op experience with your pals – even if your mates don’t own the same games.

We reckon that the numbers and features speak for themselves – even if there has been some dissatisfaction with the types of titles offered over the past twelve months. Much of the PS4’s library this year, for example, has centred on indie games, while the PS3 and Vita offerings also sagged a little during the slow summer months. With the December update boasting some of the best value all year, though, the service is ending 2014 on a real high note – and inFAMOUS: First Light is still to follow in January.

[ Note: Value determined by PlayStation Store prices, accurate as of 12th December, 2014 ]


What did you make of Sony’s PlayStation Plus offering in 2014? Are you staggered by these statistics, or do they seem more or less on par with your expectations? Save your cash in the comments section below.

How would you rate PlayStation Plus in 2014? (100 votes)

Very good

43%

Good

33%

Meh

18%

Poor

3%

Very poor

3%

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