PlayStation Plus: Worth the fuss?

PlayStation PlusOn June 29th, 2010, Sony unveiled its premium service, PlayStation Plus, to its community of users. While many customers complain that it offers features that should be offered for every PS3 user, such as the ability to back up game saves to the cloud, the meat and potatoes of PlayStation Plus is the free and discounted content. Priced at $50 for 15 months, or $18 for 3 months, many gamers (excluding myself) have opted to pay the extra money for the benefits.

Is the service worth the price tag, or is it a waste of gamers’ hard-earned cash?

While PlayStation Plus has been out for a full year now, I didn’t get my first taste of the service until a few weeks ago, when Sony provided every active PSN account with a free month as an apology for their abysmal security architecture. None of the special offers through the service ever enticed me enough to fork over any money, but since it came my way for free, I gave it a shot.

Warning: The following article details my enjoyment, or lack thereof, with PlayStation Plus. Your enjoyment may differ greatly.

Premium Themes and Avatars

In the few weeks I’ve been able to download a slew of dynamic themes and premium avatars, which is undoubtedly cool. But would I spend my paycheck on them? Absolutely not. I figured I’d snag everything that I could while it was free, because the best tasting lunch is always free lunch.

  • Avatars: $0 value
  • Dynamic Themes: $0 value

Free Downloadable Games

I’ve also been able to download two stand-alone games for free. The first of which is Streets of Rage 2, which I enjoyed for about an hour and earned a handful of trophies. Yawn. The classic Sega Genesis game would have cost me $5 without PlayStation Plus, but I’ll probably never touch the game again. The other game was Magic: The Gathering, which I’d be lying if I said I enjoyed it even a little bit. Free or not, I can’t help but feel I wasted a part of my life I can never get back.

PlayStation Plus also offers a feature called Full Game Trial, which allows the user to download a full retail game and play it for an hour. My problem with this feature is that I’ll spend four hours downloading a 7 GB game, and the trial only lasts for one hour. Spending 80% of my time downloading and 20% playing isn’t exactly my idea of fun. Whatever happened to demos?

  • Streets of Rage 2: $5 value
  • Magic: The Gathering: -$5 value
  • Full Game Trial: $0 value

Discounted Content

For the past few weeks, discounted downloadable content has been available for several games, all of which I do not own. Since I own none of the games, I haven’t been able to take advantage of the discounts. Aside from DLC, several downloadable games have been offered at a discounted price. However, since I had no desire to buy any of them in the first place, why would I buy them at a discount? I still don’t want them. While it’s not Sony’s fault that I don’t happen to like the provided selection, it still provides me with no value.

  • Discounted Content: $0 value

Qore

The other free content included with PlayStation plus is Qore. I was able to download and watch the May and June episodes. While it’s kind of cool to get an “inside scoop” into upcoming games and movie releases, there’s no real value here. I could just as easily hop on my laptop or my new HTC Trophy and find the information, along with a plethora of additional tidbits.

  • Qore: $0 value

Early Access Content

Everybody knows that the American consumer loves to feel special. As a society, we just eat it up. Naturally, Sony leverages this by offering early access to content such as demos, new releases, and even highly-anticipated Beta programs such as Uncharted 3 . Maybe I simply don’t have enough time on my hands to dive into all of this content, or maybe I’m just a chump, but again, I have failed to take advantage of this portion of what PlayStation Plus has to offer.

While none of the early access content has a real monetary value, there definitely is some value to be had here. But between work, being married, owning a house, and feeding my evil cat, I don’t have time to jump into the free stuff. I’m still finishing Dragon Age: Origins, after all.

  • Early Access Content: $0 value

Additional Features

Aside from downloadable content, there are a couple of “premium features” that PS3 users receive. One such feature is the aforementioned ability to back up game saves to the cloud. This is supposed to be nice if you want to game on multiple PS3s, or frequently play over at your friend’s house. However, I’ve never had a need to use the feature. I understand that it’s probably an invaluable feature for many users, but not for me.

Another feature is the ability to auto-update your 10 last-played games, even when you are not using your system. The idea behind this is that you won’t have to wait to download and install a patch before you can jump back online and trash talk some guy living in his mother’s basement.

  • Additional Features: $0 value

Overall

In the end, I’d have to say that unless Sony ups the ante with its PlayStation Plus offerings, I won’t become a paid subscriber any time soon. It seems to follow a very popular business model of getting consumers to spend more money than they otherwise would.

  • Grand Total: $5 – $5 = $0

There’s no doubt about it: PlayStation Plus is a great $0 value. I can’t complain about the few weeks I’ve been a member because it was free, but is it worth the price tag for me? Absolutely not. Is it worth the price tag for you? Maybe.

If you’ve yet to try PlayStation Plus, I hope you find my overview of the features and benefits to be useful, and you can make your own judgment. If, like me, you tried PlayStation Plus for the first time because of the Welcome Back offer, how was your experience? Will you become a paid subscriber?