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"PlayStation Plus" Subscription Service Unveiled

Those "free games" they talked about at the press conference aren't so free.

After months and months of speculation about the future of the PlayStation Network, Sony Executive Jack Tretton revealed a new online subscription service for the PlayStation 3 that will begin later this month. The newly minted "PlayStation Plus" service will offer PS3 owners additional online features, discounts on PSN games, "free downloadable games," and access to exclusive offers such as game betas. A one-year subscription to PlayStation Plus is $50 dollars--the same price as a year of Xbox Live--while three months of the service can be purchased for $17. The key difference between the Xbox Live and PlayStation Plus services is that the latter is not required to play games online.  
  

Plus subscribers will get exclusive access to new PSN game discounts every month.
So, if you're not paying for online play, what are you paying for with PlayStation Plus? According to Sony's press release, PlayStation Plus subscribers get access to a number of exclusive features. First, Plus members will get access to "Full Game Trials" which are time-limited version of PlayStation 3, PSN, and PSone games that cycle every month. Like the free games on Gametap, you can play the games as much as you want during the allotted period,  but once the games are cycled out and replaced with new free games, you'll have to actually buy the game. 
 
That's not to say that there aren't free games to play. In fact, Plus subscribers will have access to a number of free PS3, PSN, and PSone games to download and play as much as they want. For instance, Wipeout HD will be a game free to download for Plus subscribers when the service begins this month. There is a caveat, however: the games are only free as long as you are subscribed to the service. If you cancel your subscription to PlayStation Plus, those free games will no longer be accessible, not unlike a Zune music subscription. So, remember: you have to pay money to play the free games. 
   
 Wipeout HD will be the first free game offered to PlayStation Plus subscribers.
Plus subscribers also have access to exclusive content, such as special themes and avatar items in home, as well as early access to game betas, demos, and the PlayStation's suite of video magazines. In addition, Plus members will have exclusive discounts on items various items in the PlayStation Store (PS3 and PSP!) that will cycle month to month. Finally, Plus subscribers get some additional features for their console: their system will be able to automatically download updates and patches for games. PlayStation Plus also adds cross-game chat functionality to the PS3, so you can chat with friends in any game they're playing. PlayStation Plus subscribers can even set their PlayStation 3 to "automatically start up at a designated time to download content and will turn off after the download has completed" which is less of an update and more of a terror that my PS3 has become sentient. It can turn itself on and off, and use my bandwidth at will. This is the nightmare connect future we were warned about. 
 
So, those are your PSN features. It's important to mention again that none of the content that has already been available for free will be blocked for non-subscribers, so don't worry that free online play will suddenly become a subscriber-only benefit.  
 
What do you think, guys? Are you interested in paying for Sony's online service when it launches later this month? Are you willing to pay to have access to free games, and continue paying for games to ensure that those games stay free? 
272 Comments
Posted by MattBodega

After months and months of speculation about the future of the PlayStation Network, Sony Executive Jack Tretton revealed a new online subscription service for the PlayStation 3 that will begin later this month. The newly minted "PlayStation Plus" service will offer PS3 owners additional online features, discounts on PSN games, "free downloadable games," and access to exclusive offers such as game betas. A one-year subscription to PlayStation Plus is $50 dollars--the same price as a year of Xbox Live--while three months of the service can be purchased for $17. The key difference between the Xbox Live and PlayStation Plus services is that the latter is not required to play games online.  
  

Plus subscribers will get exclusive access to new PSN game discounts every month.
So, if you're not paying for online play, what are you paying for with PlayStation Plus? According to Sony's press release, PlayStation Plus subscribers get access to a number of exclusive features. First, Plus members will get access to "Full Game Trials" which are time-limited version of PlayStation 3, PSN, and PSone games that cycle every month. Like the free games on Gametap, you can play the games as much as you want during the allotted period,  but once the games are cycled out and replaced with new free games, you'll have to actually buy the game. 
 
That's not to say that there aren't free games to play. In fact, Plus subscribers will have access to a number of free PS3, PSN, and PSone games to download and play as much as they want. For instance, Wipeout HD will be a game free to download for Plus subscribers when the service begins this month. There is a caveat, however: the games are only free as long as you are subscribed to the service. If you cancel your subscription to PlayStation Plus, those free games will no longer be accessible, not unlike a Zune music subscription. So, remember: you have to pay money to play the free games. 
   
 Wipeout HD will be the first free game offered to PlayStation Plus subscribers.
Plus subscribers also have access to exclusive content, such as special themes and avatar items in home, as well as early access to game betas, demos, and the PlayStation's suite of video magazines. In addition, Plus members will have exclusive discounts on items various items in the PlayStation Store (PS3 and PSP!) that will cycle month to month. Finally, Plus subscribers get some additional features for their console: their system will be able to automatically download updates and patches for games. PlayStation Plus also adds cross-game chat functionality to the PS3, so you can chat with friends in any game they're playing. PlayStation Plus subscribers can even set their PlayStation 3 to "automatically start up at a designated time to download content and will turn off after the download has completed" which is less of an update and more of a terror that my PS3 has become sentient. It can turn itself on and off, and use my bandwidth at will. This is the nightmare connect future we were warned about. 
 
So, those are your PSN features. It's important to mention again that none of the content that has already been available for free will be blocked for non-subscribers, so don't worry that free online play will suddenly become a subscriber-only benefit.  
 
What do you think, guys? Are you interested in paying for Sony's online service when it launches later this month? Are you willing to pay to have access to free games, and continue paying for games to ensure that those games stay free? 
Edited by Fontan

Let's wait and see.  Sounds good, though.

Posted by ChristianCastillo

sony disappointed me :(

Posted by Soliddragon24

damn.. underwhelming

Posted by Fallen189

Your statement is very misleading in the descript

Posted by Urmean

This is the worst. Really.

Posted by Atary77

Yeah Sony already got enough of my money after the fucking yellow light I got on my PS3. No way I'm paying for this

Posted by neoepoch

To be honest, I may have done it if it included cross game chat...but I probably won't knowing what is actually in it.

Posted by newfound

At E3 I think I heard him slip in something along the lines that you loose a lot of your content when you stop subscribing, or was that just me?

Posted by Dendei

Not quite sure how to feel about this. I mean on one hand it does provide some interesting services. On the other hand I lose everything if I happen to not want what they have to offer on a given month.

Posted by DrLove

there is a rumor about cross-game chat? can anyone confirm it?

Posted by Natedogg2

I don't know about this. I think I'll have to wait and see during that free trial period to see if this is worth it or not.

Posted by zombie2011

That was a fucking letdown.

Posted by MoeB
Posted by Jensonb

This is not that impressive.

Posted by IanBrooks

Totally not worth the money in my opinion.   A few free avatars/themes, a 'possibility' of early access to betas/games, and a rental service.

Posted by VoshiNova

I hate to sound like a broken record, but this is shitty.
 
It seems like a shifty marketing scheme.
Why not just copy Xbox Live?

Edited by MoeB
Posted by Sully907

This is really rediculous, instead of making the normal PSN and XMB better, trying to catch up to Xbox Live, they charge for things that should be free to everyone. Automatic updates? Cross game voice chat? Give that to everyone! Sony can take their ripoff service and shove it where the sun don't shine.

Edited by sapient

I think it is a pretty good idea. I am sure I am not the only one to like it. It will allow them to earn extra money which will hopefully be used to make PSN even better. 

Edited by Red12b

I'll wait and see, internet ain't the best in New Zealand and I damn well ain't going to download new games every other month, my bandwidth will go through the roof. 

Posted by DrLove

http://www.joystiq.com/2010/06/15/cross-game-party-chat-coming-to-ps3-with-strings-attached/  
 
cross game chat... 

Posted by Jensonb
@neoepoch said:
" To be honest, I may have done it if it included cross game chat...but I probably won't knowing what is actually in it. "
This. Cross-Game Chat is still not on the PS3. That blows my mind.
Posted by JoelTGM

I don't see much benefit.  The free trial thing is cool, free games, discounts, but what about group voice chat and all the good stuff that is still missing?

Posted by HanktheAwesome08

Let's just see and wait.
Posted by Tearhead

I'd have to wait and see if the content is meaningful to me, and if it justifies the price. Also, didn't they say something about a three month free trial? Or am I just crazy?

Posted by Chrjz

Microsoft and Sony are going in opposite directions.

Posted by TripMasterMunky

I thought this was kinda stupid.
 
I would pay $50 if it included cross-game chat/party chat. That's the main reason why 360 online is so much better than PS3.

Posted by Meteora

It sounds very underwhelming to me, especially now that gold membership is starting to feel justified with the added services. But we'll see how it plays out.

Posted by LtColJaxson

Nah not enough to pay 50 bucks for. Some of those features should be in the PS3 regardless and they are just using it as a lever to have more people pay for the service... not buying into it. 
 
I am frightened to see what other system update features they will hold back in the future for this service...
 
The 360 has more justification in charging the price since the online service works in a much better fashion. 

Posted by Ace829
@newfound said:
" At E3 I think I heard him slip in something along the lines that you loose a lot of your content when you stop subscribing, or was that just me? "
No it's true.
Posted by MannAlive

I think I'll just spend 50 bucks on games I get to choose and keep.

Posted by Vorbis

Some of that stuff sounds good, I like having the option and not being forced into it. But no mention of cross game voice chat? would seal the deal if they chucked that in.

Posted by Blair
@zombie2011 said:
" That was a fucking letdown. "
Agreed.
Posted by TobyD81

So Sony wants me to buy a service where they get to choose what games I should play? And this includes automatic updating, which should be a standard fix for their lousy current system? Pass.

Posted by Cdude9590

This is stupid. Who will actually subscribe to this service?

Posted by J0hnnyD

To be honest, Microsoft should do something like this.  Make Silver the standard to play online and buy XBLA games, DLC, etc at no annual cost to the player and make Gold like PS Plus.  Discounted Arcade games would be awesome.

Posted by LordCrom

"their system will be able to automatically download updates and patches for games. The PlayStation 3 can even be set to "automatically start up at a designated time to download content and will turn off after the download has completed"     
 
REALLY?!  This seems like it should be free to everyone.  This is Sony admitting their update and patch system is broken and there should be a better way to do it, only you have to pay them to get the privilege to not have to stare at your tv for 10 minutes while it updates everytime you turn it on.  Huh. 
Posted by yoyokid

so im gonna be down 100 bucks for subscription services doesnt sound reasonable. i do like the full game trial though if i play 2 games its worth it.

Posted by DRooPZ

kinda dumb, where is cross voice chat?

Posted by m1k3

u guys do understand that playing online is still free...

Posted by Damien

I want to know if you unsubscribe then resubscribe at a later time, will you be able to play the games that were free when you were previously subscribed.  So basically, can I subscribe only when the games are good?

Posted by OmegaPirate

You guys are fucking dumb - 'Why didnt they make it xbox live, thats worth charging for'  
 
Wake up, psn is equal to XBL - except party chat  - newsflash, i got a 360 a year ago, ive never used party chat - it aint a holy grail. 
This is not for me, it does not appeal to me but there are people it WILL appeal to, all you prats saying 'waaaah they shouldve just copied live then itd be worth it' basically, you just want em to charge 50 bones a year for what you already have? and give nothing back?!  
 
Just think before you type for once internet - please

Posted by Vorbis
@Jensonb said:

" @neoepoch said:

" To be honest, I may have done it if it included cross game chat...but I probably won't knowing what is actually in it. "
This. Cross-Game Chat is still not on the PS3. That blows my mind. "
It is in, it's been left out of the article.
 
Bad Matt, fix it.
Posted by StriderNo9

No, do not want. Sounds like a rebranded Qore. 

Posted by Dustpan

If the online gameplay is still free I don't see the point of subscribing.

Posted by Vorbis
Posted by jakeh

For everyone down on it atleast you don't need it for basic online play.  

Posted by Norusdog

HAHAHAHA PSN is fine free...but the same price as Live w/o the features and all Live has?
 
Sony can blow my sweaty nuts

Posted by MrKlorox

Sounds straight up bogus. Only the hardest core of fanboys would think this was a decent deal.
 
Sony obviously still doesn't quite "get it" yet.