It's been a funny old year for PlayStation Plus, hasn't it? With the PlayStation 4's commercial success – and its dependence on the subscription service – we'd imagine that membership metrics are at an all-time high. And yet following that influx of users, the premium platform has developed a real perception problem – particularly among those who remember the heady days of the PlayStation 3, when plumping up for the annual fee granted you access to several top-tier titles every single month.

The Instant Game Collection is not what it once was, with digital downloads ruling the roost, and some questionable selections in 2015. But does the service still represent value for money, and are the games being given away as bad as some forum posters like to make out? We decided to price up this year's full roster of 72 freebies in order to uncover just how much value your £39.99/$49.99 subscription gets you. The results, as was the case 12 months ago, are pretty eye-opening.

January

You may remember Sony announcing January's software selection a little early in order to dampen complaints from the tail-end of 2014. And it was a good lineup: inFAMOUS: First Light checked the "blockbuster" box adequately, while The Swapper remains a critically acclaimed game.

  • inFAMOUS: First Light
  • The Swapper
  • Prototype 2
  • Ducktales Remastered
  • Duke Nukem 3D Megaton Edition
  • Woah Dave!

Total Value: $99.94 / £77.24
Metacritic Average: 75

February

Sony quick fell back on its strategy of debuting digital games in February, though, with Apotheon ruling the roost. It was accompanied by the highly acclaimed Transistor, and a rare PS3 gem: Yakuza 4.

  • Apotheon
  • Transistor
  • Yakuza 4
  • Thief
  • Rogue Legacy
  • Kick & Fennick

Total Value: $109.94 / £68.44
Metacritic Average: 77

March

It was a case of more digital games in March – but these were bloody good ones to be fair. Valiant Hearts: The Great War stands as one of the few titles to ever make this author teary eyed, while OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood is one of the better skateboarding games ever made.

  • Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty
  • Valiant Hearts: The Great War
  • Papo & Yo
  • Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments
  • OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood
  • CounterSpy

Total Value: $94.94 / £64.44
Metacritic Average: 77

April

And then April came around, a particularly dire month for the PS4. Tower of Guns was poorly received by the press, and Aaru's Awakening didn't fare much better. Vita owners got the best deal with the awesome Killzone: Mercenary.

  • Tower of Guns
  • Never Alone
  • Dishonored
  • Aaru's Awakening
  • Killzone: Mercenary
  • MonsterBag

Total Value: $94.94 / £70.94
Metacritic Average: 72

May

May proved to be a good month for fans of unorthodox titles, with cross-buy releases like The Unfinished Swan and Hohokum leading the charge. Ether One did suffer from some unfortunate bugs at launch, but Guacamelee was incredibly well received by critics.

  • Ether One
  • Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition
  • The Unfinished Swan
  • Race the Sun
  • Hohokum
  • Murasaki Baby

Total Value: $89.94 / £61.84
Metacritic Average: 78

June

The inclusion of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes in June's selection may have merely been a marketing ploy for The Phantom Pain, but it guaranteed a rare slice of AAA goodness for members in what was an otherwise forgettable offering.

  • Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
  • Skulls of the Shogun: Bone-a-Fide Edition
  • Call of Juarez: Gunslinger
  • Cloudberry Kingdom
  • Futuridium EP Deluxe
  • Super Exploding Zoo

Total Value: $78.44 / £59.94
Metacritic Average: 75

July

Potentially the best month for PlayStation Plus subscribers in 2015, Rocket League has not only shaped up to be a Game of the Year candidate, but the overall value proposition this time was really high. Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions Evolved was a great Vita port.

  • Rocket League
  • Styx: Master of Shadows
  • Entwined
  • Rain
  • Mousecraft
  • Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions Evolved

Total Value: $104.94 / £81.44
Metacritic Average: 74

August

With no Rise of the Tomb Raider on the PS4, Square Enix may have been hoping that Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris would prove an adequate substitute. It didn't get the best critical reception, but Limbo – which accompanied it – is always worth another playthrough.

  • Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris
  • Limbo
  • God of War: Ascension
  • Stealth Inc 2: A Game of Clones
  • Sound Shapes
  • CastleStorm: Complete Edition

Total Value: $79.94 / £67.34
Metacritic Average: 78

September

September was a significant month because PlayStation Plus members were invited to vote for one of their free PS4 games. Grow Home won the contest, and it was joined by Super Time Force Ultra and Twisted Metal in what was a strong month.

  • Grow Home
  • Super Time Force Ultra
  • Twisted Metal
  • Teslagrad
  • Xeodrifter
  • La-Mulana EX

Total Value: $82.94 / £60.94
Metacritic Average: 77

October

Super Meat Boy was announced as a free PlayStation Plus game early in 2015, and it finally arrived in October, joined by Double Fine adventure game Broken Age.

  • Super Meat Boy
  • Broken Age
  • Unmechanical Extended
  • Chariot
  • Kickbeat
  • Kung-Fu Rabbit

Total Value: $79.94 / £64.34
Metacritic Average: 76

November

November earned the highest average Metacritic rating of the year, buoyed by the strong critical performance of Mass Effect 2. But to be fair, The Walking Dead: Season 2 and Beyond Good & Evil are great games, too – even if the inclusion of PSP title Invizimals was… Odd.

  • Magicka 2
  • The Walking Dead: Season 2
  • Mass Effect 2
  • Beyond Good & Evil
  • Dragon Fin Soup
  • Invizimals

Total Value: $97.94 / £73.44
Metacritic Average: 80

December

The final month of the year has split opinion. The PS3 and Vita lineup is excellent, with SSX and Freedom Wars being real highlights. However many feel that – after the precedent set by The Walking Dead: Season 2 – a single episode of King's Quest is a weak finisher. Personally, we reckon Gauntlet's pretty good.

  • Gauntlet: Slayer Edition
  • King's Quest - Chapter I: A Knight to Remember
  • Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
  • SSX
  • Freedom Wars
  • Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken

Total Value: $87.94 / £78.44
Metacritic Average: 77

Conclusion

So, to return to our original question, did PlayStation Plus represent value for money in 2015? The immediate answer to that is a resounding "yes", as an incredible $1,101.78 of software (or £828.78 over the pond) was given away as part of the service's £39.99/$49.99 subscription fee. That's an average of $91.82 (or £69.07) of value every month.

However, there has been a decline in value year-over-year – though not to the degree that some message boards may lead you to believe. Last year's lineup totalled $1,349.29 in North America and £960.64 in the UK, suggesting that more expensive games were given away. As a consequence, the monthly average was also slightly higher.

The Metacritic average has also dropped – but again, only marginally. This year's lineup scored a mean rating of 76, whereas last year managed 79 in North America and 78 in Europe. The highest scoring month this year was November with an average rating of 80, whereas 2014's highest month hit 83 – well, in Europe at least.

But the difference, in the grand scheme of things, is almost insignificant. The hard facts show that Sony has managed to maintain PlayStation Plus' already high standards for another year, so the question is: where is the negativity coming from? Perhaps it's the lack of stand-out titles across the board; 2014 played host to Injustice: Gods Among Us, Borderlands 2, and Velocity 2X to name just a few – all very highly recommended games.

It's important to remember, though, that Sony's subscription service offers more than just free games. Cloud storage was increased to 10GB on the PS4 earlier this year, while the discounts for members have remained excellent across all three platforms right throughout 2015. There have also been a number of perks for subscribers in many free-to-play games.

There's no doubt, then, that PlayStation Plus is still very much worth the money – but perhaps it's time for Sony to rethink the types of titles that it gives away as part of the Instant Game Collection. At this point, we think that the PS3 and Vita have run their course, and we'd like to see the platform holder cut down on the number of titles but lift the overall value of each selection.

But do you agree? Are you happy with PlayStation Plus as it is, or do you think that changes need to be made? Are you satisfied with the overall value of 2015's offering, or has it let you down? Take a look at all of the data, and then let us know your thoughts on this year as a whole in the comments section below.

[ Note: Value determined by non-discounted PlayStation Store prices, accurate as of 26th November, 2015 ]


How would you rate PlayStation Plus in 2015? (115 votes)

Very good

19%

Good

31%

Meh

30%

Poor

14%

Very poor

5%

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