There is a lot in PS Plus to enjoy and to justify the tiered pricing structure. When I first opened the menu when it launched on June 13th in US markets, I thought I’d spend days With all the games and features it had to offer. Turns out, the next month, I didn’t.
It’s not that the PS Plus isn’t good or powerful enough to justify its $119.99/year price. What’s more, recent games make it extremely difficult to extract the full value of your new PS Plus.
When you think about the competition Sony faces over its subscription service, attention virtually turns to Xbox Game Pass, a product with more than 400 games and more than 25 million subscribers. Since I’ve spent several weeks sampling PS Plus products, it occurred to me that the biggest competitor to PS Plus isn’t another gaming subscription service, but the games themselves. That’s because the biggest factor undermining the value of PS Plus – or any gaming subscription service on the market for that matter – isn’t money. it is time.
Video games keep getting longer. It’s all about time and money.
From an economic point of view, the subscription status of PS Plus Premium is remarkably acceptable. For starters, if you need cloud storage or want to play any kind of online multiplayer PlayStation game, you are required to pay at least $59.99 per year to get access to PS Plus Essential. From there, justifying the increase to Premium – which gives you access to the aforementioned catalog of more than 700 current-generation and classic games, the ability to stream games from the cloud and access to timed experiences of new games – is incredibly easy to sell. For just one additional new game cost per year ($60), players can access a library of hundreds. If you have the money to spare, why not do it?
But even if you have the money, do you have the time? Let’s say, liberally, you have two hours to play each week and six hours during Saturday and Sunday. I spent 22 hours a week playing it, which seems like a lot until you consider the modern gaming landscape of massive open-world games like “Assassin’s Creed Valhalla” and live service titles constantly adding new content to the game to engage players, and a bonus with unlockable new features and cosmetics all the time .
For the past two years or more, my friends and I have been meeting regularly around “Call of Duty: Warzone,” a free and live battle royale game in the Call of Duty series that introduces new seasons of new maps and experiences every two months. It’s a go game. Sure, I’ve been playing “Elden Ring” and “MLB The Show 22”, finished “Uncharted 4” and even been in “Grand Turismo 7”, but if I’ve been playing any game one night friends in War Zone, I’ve popped in to join them . By comparison, I spent a small portion of that time on other titles – and made relatively little progress as a result.
This represents almost all of my free time playing in a given week. So, if I don’t have time for the rest of the 700 PS Plus Premium games, what are they really worth to me? I would like to have more time to play more titles and move forward with the narrative, but amid work and family duties, I don’t.
While I’m sure not everyone shares the gaming habits of a 41-year-old father of two, there’s no shortage of similarly huge live-service franchises that dominate gamers’ time. Even single-player games like “Horizon Forbidden West”, “Red Dead Redemption 2” or the aforementioned “Assassin’s Creed Valhalla” catch players and then flood them with hours upon hours of content, giving them little reason to look for another title if they’re just enjoying their time in one game. What else do they need 700 titles?
300 hours after Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, I’m dead inside
The complexity of modern games can also make them more compelling in gameplay, which acts as a deterrent from bouncing from one particular title to another. Take “Elden Ring,” which isn’t available on the PlayStation or Xbox subscription service, but has been my main gaming activity this year. To complete the point where I left off and fully enjoy the game, I have to remember what happens in the plot, what are the controls (ARGH! I pressed the square button and drank the scarlet tears again!!!), which side quest I may or may not be in the middle of Garth the Uncouth’s attack chain or Mildred the Overly Perspirant or whatever the boss’s name is that keeps hitting me like a thumbtack under a sledgehammer.
Really, these subscription services are designed for people (like our friend and colleague Gene Park) who are acutely aware of the hundreds of games that putting down one and picking up another is a frictionless process. These people will get boundless value – and they will be good at it. But for me, the show just means paying an extra $60 to stare at the titles on my spine and think, “It’s going to be fun to play someday.”
For all that’s offered with PS Plus Premium, this should be a no-brainer purchase. When it comes time to renovate, I’m not sure it will work for me. Given the sheer amount of time I spend playing a single game (“Warzone”), will I really be able to extract enough value from PS Plus Premium to justify spending $120 per year on the service? The same question applies to Xbox Game Pass.
It would be nice to have access to all of these games, but is it worth it to limit myself to a recurring annual fee if I’m getting titles in shifts and starting, if at all? My final answer probably has more to do with time than money, and there’s nothing PlayStation, Xbox, or any other game company can do – whether it’s adding more old games or new titles to the catalog – to solve this problem for me.