Playstation Plus – Is it Worth the Money? Month 1

Playstation Plus debuted the last week of June and there’s still a lot of talk and excitement about it. On paper it looks great. For $49.99, you get 15 months of free add-ons, free games, free themes, free avatars, discounts on various titles, and more. However, when you begin to read the fine print, things get a little murky.

For example, all the content you download from Playstation Plus, is only yours as long as you keep your membership active. Once you leave, those games can no longer be played. Let’s look at the actual dialogue that pops up once you try to download a Playstation Plus title.

This item is available as a free download for Playstation Plus users. You will be able to use this item as long as you remain a Playstation Plus subscriber. If your Playstation Plus subscription ends, you will no longer be able to use this item. If you purchase add-on items for use with games obtained for free through a Playstation Plus offer, those items will only be useable as long as the game is useable. If the game is no longer useable because you are no longer a Playstation Plus subscriber, a separate purchase of the game will be required in order to use the add-on items you purchased.

What this boils down to is that EVERYTHING is Playstation Plus that is marked as “free” is actually only a rental. However nowhere does Sony actual call these things rentals and a lot of journalists have skimmed over this fact. As well, what happens when the PS3 is no longer supported and they discontinue PS Plus? This has not been brought up by anyone nor discussed. Remember what happened when Xbox Live was discontinued for the original Xbox? Or when the Dreamcast shuttered its online play? A lot of games were rendered unusable and thus worthless. I don’t know about you, but I don’t rent – I BUY. And if I spend money on something, I expect to be able to use it until I accidentally break it or grow tired of it. The idea of even DLC add-ons being rentals, or themes or avatars gives me great pause and makes me wonder how come there isn’t an outcry against this?

Simply put, it’s because I’m not like most gamers. Just because I hate the concept of renting does mean others do. Most gamers are fine paying the equivalent of $3.33 a month for the “12 months plus three months free” subscription. Honestly, when you break it down to that little per month, renting doesn’t see so horrible, especially when you’re getting to rent about fifty dollars in stuff each month for the duration of your subscription. I’m also an older gamer that doesn’t necessarily like online play and is still appalled by the quality of the hardware and how long it lasts compared to say, the fact I still have my original Sega Genesis, Saturn, Dreamcast, TG-16, Sega CD, 32x and more that work fine, yet I dread turning on my 360 due to the RROD that will someday claim it. Tick tick tick. I should note four of my thirty friends I have on PSN (which includes me) have Playstation Plus, or a whopping 7.5%. It’ll be interesting to see if that’s par for the course on people pulling the trigger on Sony’s new service. That’s a lot of money even though the percentage seems small.

So what we are going to do here is an experiment. Each month I’ll be looking at the contents of Playstation Plus, broken down by category. Then I will state one of the following categories for each item.

1. Already own, but would have purchased without PSPlus

2. Already own, but regret purchasing

3. Don’t own, but would have purchased w/out PSPlus

4. Wouldn’t have purchased, but downloaded due to PSPlus

5. Wouldn’t bother downloading this regardless

6. Discount isn’t enough to make me pull the trigger

So there we go. Six possible categories each PSPlus item falls under. Then at the end of the column we’ll see if I got my $3.33 out of it. I’m writing this as I go, so each month will be a mystery to me, but on paper it seems pretty hard that I won’t, right? I mean it’s the costs of a single PSP Mini…

PlayStation Plus – Month 1

Demos

* inFamous (Free)

Games

* WipEout HD (Free, original price $19.99)
* Gauntlet II (PlayStation Plus price $2.50, original price $4.99)
* Mortal Kombat II (PlayStation Plus price $2.50, original price $4.99)
* Rampage (PlayStation Plus price $2.50, original price $4.99)
* Rampart (PlayStation Plus price $2.50, original price $4.99)
* Cuboid (PlayStation Plus price $7.99, original price $9.99)
* Hamsterball (PlayStation Plus price $7.99, original price $9.99)
* Interpol: The Trail of Dr. Chaos (PlayStation Plus price $7.99, original price $9.99)
* Magic Orbz (PlayStation Plus price $7.99, original price $9.99)
* Mahjong Tales: Ancient Wisdom (PlayStation Plus price $7.99, original price $9.99)
* Smash Cars (PlayStation Plus price $11.99, original price $14.99)
* Wakeboarding HD (PlayStation Plus price $11.99, original price $14.99)

PSone Classics

* Rally Cross (Free, original price $5.99)

Minis

* Age of Zombies (Free, original price $4.99)

Add-ons

* Warhawk – Fallen Star Pack (Free, original price $1.99)
* Fat Princess – Fat Roles ($3.99, original price $4.99)
* Cuboid Booster Pack (PlayStation Plus price FREE, original price $2.99)
* Cuboid Bundle Pack (PlayStation Plus price FREE, original price $4.99)
* Cuboid Level Editor (PlayStation Plus price FREE, original price $3.99)
* Magic Orbz Booster Pack (PlayStation Plus price FREE, original price $2.99)
* Magic Orbz Jungle Pack (PlayStation Plus price FREE, original price $2.99)
* Magic Orbz Winter Pack (PlayStation Plus price FREE, original price $2.99)
* Mahjong Tales: Ancient Wisdom Booster Pack (PlayStation Plus price FREE, original price $4.99)
* Smash Cars: Virus Run (PlayStation Plus price FREE, original price $2.99)

Themes & Avatars

* Collision Theme (Free)
* Fat Princess Avatars (x2) (Free)


Wow, that’s a lot of stuff, right? But how much of it is actually any good? Let’s break it down by category.


1. Already own, but would have purchased without PSPlus
* Gauntlet II (PlayStation Plus price $2.50, original price $4.99)
* Mortal Kombat II (PlayStation Plus price $2.50, original price $4.99)
* Rampage (PlayStation Plus price $2.50, original price $4.99)
-all three of these I picked up for only $2 in a recent sale, so PSPlus is actually more expensive that the original sale. Interesting.

* Interpol: The Trail of Dr. Chaos (PlayStation Plus price $7.99, original price $9.99) – Fun hidden object game. I only paid $4.99 for it back on the April first sale, so this too is actually an increase from outside of PSPlus. OUCH.


2. Already own, but regret purchasing
* Magic Orbz (PlayStation Plus price $7.99, original price $9.99) – reviewed it in 2009. I found it fun but way overpriced. Five bucks, sure, but not at the original ten and not at this discount.
* Magic Orbz Booster Pack (PlayStation Plus price FREE, original price $2.99) – reviewed it in 2009. I didn’t like it then, but it’s worth free.


3. Don’t own, but would have purchased w/out PSPlus

NOTHING. That’s pretty damn telling that in the first month, everything on PSPlus is a B-List title or worse to me. There is simply nothing here I was like, “Hell yes! I wanted this.”


4. Wouldn’t have purchased, but downloaded due to PSPlus

* WipEout HD (Free, original price $19.99) – Way too much for a DLC title and it looked lame to me every time I saw it in the PSN store, but what the hell, right? Free $20 rental. It turned out to be a mediocre experience. It’s certainly not worth twenty bucks, and I’ve played better racing games, but it’s okay for a freebie.

* Rally Cross (Free, original price $5.99) – I’m not sure how in the blue hell this is considered a “Classic” and six bucks for a PSX racing game is insane, but my girlfriend likes racing games so I downloaded it for her to try. Otherwise this would be in category 5.

* Age of Zombies (Free, original price $4.99) – Five bucks for a PSP mini is insane but I like old school shoot ’em ups, so free is worth it here. Or rather it would be if the game wasn’t both one of the easiest and most insipid titles I’ve ever played. I beat this thing in one sitting and without a continue. It was too damn easy and the “plot/writing,” if you can all it that, made me ill from beginning to end.

* Magic Orbz Jungle Pack (PlayStation Plus price FREE, original price $2.99)
* Magic Orbz Winter Pack (PlayStation Plus price FREE, original price $2.99) – I already own the game and the first DLC pack, so I decided to snag these due to being free. I would never pay three bucks a pack for them though. Magic Orbz is pretty dull after a while, the levels all feel the same save for different window dressing and they have yet to address multiple bugs with the title.

* Collision Theme (Free) – downloaded, but god damn is it fugly.


5. Wouldn’t bother downloading this regardless

* inFamous (Free) – This is a nearly 7 gig demo and you only get an hour to play. That’s pretty much just the opening story and nothing else. Hardly a “demo.” PASS.

* Rampart (PlayStation Plus price $2.50, original price $4.99) – No interest.

* Cuboid (PlayStation Plus price $7.99, original price $9.99) – No interest. This was only $4.99 back in April

* Warhawk – Fallen Star Pack (Free, original price $1.99) – I am not buying a game for a two dollar add-on. I am not stupid.

* Fat Princess – Fat Roles ($3.99, original price $4.99) – See above.

* Cuboid Booster Pack (PlayStation Plus price FREE, original price $2.99)
* Cuboid Bundle Pack (PlayStation Plus price FREE, original price $4.99)
* Cuboid Level Editor (PlayStation Plus price FREE, original price $3.99) – That’s twelve dollars in add-ons, but I would have to pay eight dollars for a game I don’t want in the first place to use them. I will say, if you’ve ever been interested in Cuboid, but haven’t pulled the trigger, getting everything for eight bucks IS a sweet deal…in addition to the $49.99 you have to pay for PSPlus.

* Mahjong Tales: Ancient Wisdom Booster Pack (PlayStation Plus price FREE, original price $4.99)
* Smash Cars: Virus Run (PlayStation Plus price FREE, original price $2.99) – if I don’t own the original for either of these and don’t find them worth purchasing at their current price tag, an add-on isn’t going to persuade me any.


6. Discount isn’t enough to make me pull the trigger

* Hamsterball (PlayStation Plus price $7.99, original price $9.99) – get it down to $4.99 and I’m there.

* Mahjong Tales: Ancient Wisdom (PlayStation Plus price $7.99, original price $9.99) – Again, five bucks and I’d consider it. As well, this was only $4.99 back in April.

* Smash Cars (PlayStation Plus price $11.99, original price $14.99) – Still too much for a lame game. This was $7.49 back in April

* Wakeboarding HD (PlayStation Plus price $11.99, original price $14.99) – Ditto.

* Fat Princess Avatars (x2) (Free) – Why would I want an avatar of a fat person?


So let’s add up the price tag of what I did download and how much it would have cost me to purchase these things without PSPlus

1. WipEout HD – $19.99
2. Rally Cross – $5.99
3. Age of Zombies – $4.99
4. Magic Orbz Jungle Pack – $2.99
5. Magic Orbz Winter Pack -$2.99

That’s $36.95 in free stuff! Or rather, $36.95 in rentals that I only paid $3.33 for. As well, all of this is B-Level or worse stuff and NONE OF IT is something I’d have ever paid money for. It was more just downloading because it was all free rather than something I wanted to play, or even try.

I think worst of all is that with the discounted pricing that PSPlus supposedly gives you, I’d have actually spent $4.50 MORE on these supposedly “discounted” games than when I bought them before PSPlus. That’s pretty bad and is a red flag that Playstation plus is nowhere near what it claims to be.

So at the end of the day, I got $36.95 in free stuff, but none of it was stuff I would have purchased anyway (nor is any of it actually GOOD), and the stuff I would have purchased if I didn’t already own it was actually more expensive than the original price I have paid. So did Playstation Plus turn out to be worth my $3.33 for the month? I have to say yes, but only just barely. A little over three bucks to try five things is worth it. It boils down to only 66 cents per item, and I can live with that. I just wish there was something in this month’s offering that I could actually get EXCITED over. Maybe next month will be better, but I was really underwhelmed with this first month. I’ve got 14 more to go though, so here’s hoping for a turn-around. I will end this by saying I think it is shady that some of these supposedly discounted games are actually more expensive that what I originally paid for them. That’s not really much of a discount after all, now is it?

What about you dear readers? Did you find PSPlus worth purchasing. If so, what did you download. If you didn’t decide to pick it up, let me know why. Let’s get a discussion rolling. I’d also suggest reading this article from the Toronto Sun.

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